COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley’s husband is being deployed to Afghanistan for nearly a year with South Carolina’s National Guard, state officials said Monday.
This will be the first overseas deployment for Michael Haley, 42, who joined the South Carolina Army National Guard in 2006 and currently serves as a first lieutenant, according to Guard spokesman Col. Pete Brooks. Initially a medical service corps officer, Haley now works in the Guard’s Columbia headquarters as a strategic plans officer.
Haley is being deployed as an individual and will be a liaison between an agricultural unit and Afghan leaders, Brooks said. In recent years, units from the South Carolina Army National Guard have deployed to help local Afghans improve their agricultural capabilities, and Haley’s civilian background in contracts and business development will help the unit, Brooks said.
Haley helped launch part of a clothing business owned by his wife’s family. He leaves the country in January and is slated to return to the United States in December.
“This deployment is the reason I joined the National Guard,” Michael Haley said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The only thing that gives me pause is the yearlong deployment away from family. But in the end, I can’t help but to think giving one year along with my fellow soldiers, as many have done before me, to secure a life of freedom for my family is well worth all that comes with it.”
In speeches, Gov. Nikki Haley frequently talks about her husband’s military service and says she is proud that he puts on his uniform daily when he goes to work. On Monday, Haley said in a statement that she was getting to know firsthand the sacrifices a family must make during a deployment.
“Our time has come, and it is an honor to watch him serve our country,” the governor said. “Our family could not be more proud of Michael and every man and woman who puts on a uniform.”
Michael Haley drew criticism last month after he used Facebook to call members of the South Carolina Senate cowards for not voting on a bill favored by his wife.
“It amazes me that in a week that we have heroes who have died fighting for our freedoms, we have cowards who are afraid to take a vote in the senate,” Michael Haley wrote.
Earlier that day, the Guard announced that three S.C. soldiers had been killed in an attack by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. The incident prompted the head of South Carolina’s National Guard, Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston, to say he would conduct an internal review of the Guard’s social media policy.
Michael Haley said he told the general he intended to express himself as a private citizen, not as a member of the Guard.