PHOENIX, Ariz. (KSAZ) - While most try to head home for the holidays, for others, that isn't an option.
Just after Thanksgiving, more than two dozen citizen soldiers of the Arizona National Guard said farewell to their loved ones before embarking on a nine-month deployment.
Dean Riggs is one of them.
"I've never thought about anything else besides serving, even when I got off active duty, I think it's my job and my duty to go out and serve others, serve the great state of Arizona," said Captain Dean Riggs, operations officer.
Leaving behind his new baby boy and wife, Dean says technology helps ease the sting of missing special moments until his return.
"Lots of pictures about being able to talk over the internet kinds helps, she stays busy so that helps too," says Riggs.
Members of the 158th Military Engagement Team Detachment One will head overseas to support U.S. Central Command, and for many it's not their first deployment.
Since September 11th 2001, more than 12,000 soldiers and airmen of the Arizona National Guard have been called to federal active service.
Jose Breceda has served for 22 years and says the love of his children and parents are his motivation.
"I couldn't do it without the support of the boys, you know their mom, my parents, my family," said Master Sergeant Jose Breceda Jr.
Jose's mother, Olga, doesn't like to say good bye, but adds she has faith to get her through his deployment.
"It's not easy, but God is big and he's going to come back, that's why I'm so proud of him and I'm praying for him always," said Olga Breceda.