Family bonds help military couple separated by deployment

Capt. Rachel Billmyer hugs her fiancé, Capt. Joshua Morgan, goodbye before boarding a bus and officially beginning her deployment with the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group Nov. 25, 2018, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

RICHMOND, Va. — This Valentine’s Day, Capt. Rachel Billmyer is deployed overseas with the 529th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion. Her fiancé, Capt. Joshua Morgan, is here in Virginia, working full-time as a program manager for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs while commanding the Virginia National Guard’s 237th Engineer Company. Both Billmyer and Morgan are familiar with the deployment process.

“I’m the third person in my family to deploy since 2014,” Billmyer said. Both her parents serve in the National Guard and Morgan’s father retired a few years ago and all three have deployed within the past several years.

“With Josh’s father deploying and my parents having just had back-to-back deployments, that’s a lot of knowledge and guidance for both of us,” Billmyer said. She said the challenge of a deployment is the biggest one the couple has faced so far.

“We can always count on our families,” Morgan said. “It’s great to have their advice and lessons learned.”

The two met as cadets in 2010 when they were both part of ROTC in the Spider Battalion, which includes cadets from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Richmond and other area universities. Billmyer was one year ahead of Morgan and both were National Guard scholarship recipients.

“I was actually tasked by our cadre to give him his first and only negative counseling statement,” Billmyer said, but she didn’t remember that until later, according to Morgan, who reminded her about it on one of their first dates.

“She’s the only person to ever give me a negative counseling,” Morgan said.

After that, the two reconnected in 2016 when they ran into each other at Fort Pickett by a water fountain in Building 316 where they were both working.

“We started just by grabbing lunch with each other,” Morgan said. They got to know each other better and soon realized they had a lot in common outside their service in the National Guard. Having that military service in common helps though, especially during a deployment.

“Josh and I are almost at the same point in our careers right now so we are both very busy,” Billmyer said. “We both get to share in each other’s success and talk through our frustrations and offer each other advice.”

“Both of our lives are pretty hectic,” Morgan said. “It’s great to be able to go to someone who understands where you are coming from when explaining a situation.”

Billmyer is due back home later this year and then, in November, they’re getting married.

“It’s a huge team effort to make all this work but it’s the best team I have ever been a part of,” she said.

Capt. Joshua Morgan and Capt. Rachel Billmyer. (Courtesy Photo)