Flipside

A few minutes with...Robert Carey

Robert Carey has three lives: first as the Navy Department’s deputy chief information officer, second as a Navy reservist and last — but not least — as a family man. Soon all three will converge. Carey is being mobilized to Fallujah, Iraq, to become plans officer for a Seabee regiment that will oversee the construction of Marine Corps and local infrastructures. Carey must balance his responsibilities as a federal executive, his military service duties and his obligations as a father and husband. FCW spoke with him earlier this month.

What is your upcoming schedule?

Carey: I’m getting married on June 17. A week after that, I’m in Disney World with my kids. And then about three and a half weeks after that, I’ll go off to my mobilization training. I’ll probably be there about five weeks and then start catching planes to Kuwait, then a plane to Baghdad, then a plane to Fallujah. It’s going to be a hectic summer.

Why did you decide to continue with your reserve status and eventually go to Iraq?

Carey: This is what I do. I draw a great satisfaction out of serving the country. And in this dual capacity, I have even greater satisfaction because I believe I can make a difference.

Robert Cary Do you foresee any desperate e-mails from your employees at the Navy Department?

Carey: I always view it that if you leave and have a transparent departure, then you’ve done well because [that] indicates you’re operating as a team. I want everyone else to have and know what I know and that way, whatever the issue is, the more people who are pushing in a certain direction, the easier it is to get it there.

How is your family handling this?

Carey: My two kids — Reagan, who is 11, and Conner, who is 8 — have friends in school whose dads are deployed. My fiancée is managing as best she can. She’s known me for a long time, so it’s not unbeknownst that this commitment lies in the offing. But what does it mean when you’re just not there? Even I don’t know how I’ll react because it’s a different environment.

It sounds like you live three different lives.

Carey: When I went away to Desert Storm, even after you put in a 12- or 14-hour day, you had one job. You were done. When I come home now, I have a reserve job tugging at me at 9 p.m., and I have being dad. That’s three or four days a week.

Are you saying that your current job as a civilian might be tougher than going to Iraq?

Carey: I don’t think I want to say that, but that might be true. You’re juggling one big ball as opposed to three really heavy balls!


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