FORT CAMPBELL, Ky.
Army Spc. John Luckey and his wife, Kerry, already had five children and no plans for more when he came home from a year’s duty in Iraq. But there was romance in the California air when the entire family went on a vacation to see the giant redwoods.
more when he came home from a year’s duty in Iraq. But there was romance in the California air when the entire family went on a vacation to see the giant redwoods.
Nine months later, Mrs. Luckey gave birth to a daughter, EmLee Rae.
Apparently many military couples at Fort Campbell celebrated like the Luckeys when about 20,000 soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division came home last fall, because the military hospital here is now seeing a baby boom.
The hospital expects to deliver 210 babies a month soon, nearly twice the usual number of deliveries, and more are expected at other nearby hospitals in Tennessee and Kentucky.
A temporary increase in births is not uncommon after soldiers return, but the boom this year is the biggest the post has seen in decades, said Lt. Col. Diane Adams, chief of women’s health at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
The base is seeing “a lot more folks with family on the mind when they returned this time around,” Col. Adams said.
About 19,000 soldiers returned to Fort Stewart, Ga., in the first months of 2006, and the hospital there saw a baby boom nine months later, delivering more than 100 babies a month, compared with 76 per month the previous year. Fort Hood in Texas saw deliveries peak at 289 in March 2006, well above the 213 average.
Lt. Trena Buggs, a labor and delivery nurse at Blanchfield, got pregnant herself not long after her husband, a Special Forces soldier, returned from Iraq in early 2006, and she gave birth in May.
“We knew that any time the soldiers are deployed, we knew the one thing they liked to do best when they come home is get a little bit of loving,” she said.
The baby boom at Fort Campbell is expected to continue through December, which also happens to be when three units from the 101st Airborne are set to return to Iraq. Another three units are scheduled to leave for Afghanistan early next year.