PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) — 165 soldiers are saying goodbye to their families for a while.

Members of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team are getting ready to deploy to Ukraine. The Florida National Guard hosted the deployment ceremony Tuesday.

Team members will help train and mentor the Ukrainian Armed Forces to improve their training and defense. Brigade soldiers will work with Armed Forces Ukraine partners to develop and implement systems to enhance combat training and increase training capacity by delivering brigade-and-below collective training to four Armed Forces Ukraine Brigades.

“We’ll head to Texas for a week or two, finish some last training, then upon training in Texas we will deploy to Ukraine,” Colonel Jerry Glass said. “It’s emotional because you know there’s going to be separation and know you’re going to miss your loved ones.”

For many soldiers, it’s their second, third, fourth or fifth tour of duty in a combat zone. It’s Amber Meurer’s first deployment. She joined the Army four years ago.

“I decided I need something for me, try a new challenge, so I decided to join the army and they took me,” Meurer said.

Meurer has a roller-coaster of emotions. She has no children, just her K-9, and other family members, but she’s excited.

“It’s comforting to see the community come together to support their family and friends because we’re all a family as soldiers,” Meurer said. “My family loves and supports me so I know it’ll be okay.”

The team is looking at a 9 to 12 month deployment.



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