South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was reunited with her husband, U.S. Army Captain Michael Haley, last week after her spouse returned home from deployment in Afghanistan's Helmand province, where he primarily assisted local farmers to improve their crops as a part of an agricultural support team.
"Seeing him, I felt like I took my first breath in a year," said Haley in a sit down interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday
. "I think we will just appreciate this Christmas more because you truly do understand your blessings. When you know you could lose a loved one and to think of that every day, it reminds you truly to be thankful for what you have, and it really helps you understand that a lot of the small things don't matter."
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Describing the Helmand province as a "Wild West"-like place, Captain Haley said his convoys were hit twice with improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) during his tour; however, no one was seriously hurt.
Haley joined the Army National Guard as an officer in 2006 and was tasked with converting opium fields to other profitable crops that can sustain their communities.
In addition to being used to create heroin, opium is also used to fund operations by the Taliban and al-Qaida throughout the region.
"They're very proud. They are determined," he said of the local farmers. "There's a lot of hindrance and things holding them back, but they definitely want to advance and move ahead. They want a better life for themselves."
Despite the time difference, the Haleys said they were able to communicate almost every day, the AP noted.
"There's a lot lost in translation," he said. "You don't get the emotion, the humor you get in one-on-one communication on the telephone or physically being there." Getting after-the-fact emails about family events, he added, was like "looking back in the rearview mirror at your life over the past year."
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