Valentine's Day in a War Zone: A Soldier's Love Story

Marriage is a tough commitment for many people, even for some with no complicating variables in their relationship.

In an era where celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry fall in love, get married and get divorced all within a matter of months, it’s hard to not be skeptical about marriage.

But from Alaska, here is a Valentine’s Day story to melt even the most frozen hearts.

Jessica Meléndez, 27, has been married for almost seven years.

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A native of Puerto Rico, she resides near Anchorage, Alaska with her two children Ariana, 10 months-old, and José, 6 years-old.

Her husband José Meléndez, 28, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army is stationed in the Khowst Province of Afghanistan.

“This has been challenging,” said Jessica. “I miss him very much”

José, also a native of Puerto Rico has been deployed for just over 2 months and is coping with missing an important time in his family’s life. “I miss all the milestones with my kids,” he said.  “Jose is going to school, Ariana is beginning to walk.”

Valentine’s Day isn’t making the situation any easier.

“It makes it tougher,” he added.

This isn’t the first deployment that has separated the Meléndez family but it is the first time that Jessica has been in Alaska without him while her husband a medical services officer has been away, before it was Puerto Rico where her family is.

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“It’s been challenging but we fell in love with Alaska and I have a good support system up here,” Jessica said.

Meanwhile both are counting down to the next time they’ll see each other in person, he’s expected to be back in early October.

“We love him, I love him and miss him very much,” Jessica said.  “We’re looking forward to seeing him.  Ariana misses him very much.  José looks forward to playing baseball with him.”

José appreciates his family and the support his wife has given him.

“She’s my hero,” said Jose. “She’s there to support me when I call it doesn’t matter what day.”

In the meantime the Meléndez’s will have to settle for a phone call or Skype session as they wait to be reunited.

“I am worried because he’s in a place that he can get hurt but I know he is very cautious,” Jessica said.  “I trust him that he will be back with us.”

“I’ll be home in October and we’ll make up for time lost,” José promised.

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