Single mother deploys as family suffers COVID-19 at home

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Taryn Harris
Photo credit US Army
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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Taryn Harris deployed in July with the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade amid a stressful time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two months in to her deployment, things got a lot more stressful when her only child, Maddy, tested positive for COVID-19.

“It killed me not being home, and the very first time being away from her when she’s sick in 12 years,” said Harris. “It was very hard calling her and having her cry, asking for me to come home.”

Harris’s mother, Linda, then tested positive for the virus too which forced both her parents, who are currently caring for Maddy, to be quarantined for four weeks. With her daughter sick, secluded and lonely, and her mother stricken with the virus, her father, Butch, stepped up and did his best to take care of them both.

“I had to call my daughter and mom separately because they had to seclude themselves to their bedrooms for 10 days from diagnosis,” said Harris. “My dad had a shower curtain hanging in the hallway for my daughter and then when my mom was diagnosed, he had to hang one on her bedroom door too, being able to slide their meals under the curtain.”

Many other people came together to help them get through that time. Harris’s company command team, Capt. Mark Ruffing and 1st Sgt. Nancy Paul, checked in daily and gave her some emotional support. Harris’s brother, Brett, video chats with Maddy to help her with school and homework. Harris’s aunts and uncles would shop for groceries and leave them at the door.

Harris credits the people outside her family for their support as well. Maddy’s teachers and superintendent were patient and understanding and checked in regularly. Butch’s employer worked with him remotely while he had to quarantine and take care of Maddy and Linda.

Harris will miss her daughter’s elementary school graduation. Even still, she is proud to be on this deployment. She is doing what she “signed up to do” and serving with her brothers and sisters in arms. It also helps that she has a great support system at home that helped Maddy and Linda get back to full health.

“Knowing I have a sick child and sick mother, over the age of 70, with underlying health issues already, my father and mother both managed to put me at ease with daily updates and reassuring me everything was going to be okay,” said Harris. “They have been my rock, stepping up and keeping her schedule as normal as possible while I am gone. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing support system back home.”

Harris is an automated logistical specialist currently deployed with Headquarters Support Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, 28th ECAB, serving in support of Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.