Mark Johnson reports:

56 days . . . 55 days . . . 54 days . . . ChelseaCaudle began signing her text messages this summer with a countdown. At14 years old, she knew no better way to express what was coming. DayZero was to be Oct. 7, the day Dad left for Army basic training in FortJackson, S.C. He was moving 950 miles from their home in Watertown, 950miles from Mom. Hewas leaving, even though Mom was sick with ovarian cancer. Even thoughhe had been at her side through two long, miserable rounds ofchemotherapy. Even though she now faced the likelihood of a third. In fact, Dad was leaving because Mom was sick.

InMarch, he was laid off from his job as a raw materials coordinator fora plastics company called PolyOne, where he'd worked for 20 years. Hisseverance package had provided several months' salary, but by Augustthe paychecks were winding down. Soon the cost of his family healthcoverage was going to triple, then a few months after that, nearlytriple again. They needed coverage so Mom could fight her cancer. Dad's solution: a four-year hitch in the Army.

(Hat tip: Zaid Jilani)

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