National Guard Parents – a different experience
In the community of MilParents (Parents of Serving Military) there is a “sub community” – the parents of activated National Guard soldiers. Many of the parents I met when my husband was National Guard were totally lost, and didn’t understand what had happened to them and their families.
Yes, they were proud of their soldier. Very proud of them, but for them the Army (National Guard version) was the one weekend a month that they couldn’t plan something with the family. It was the 2 weeks of “summer camp” or training somewhere else in the state or even somewhere else in the country, or when called up for a natural disaster, or when the Governor needed them for something else. True, they had mobilized once before, for a tour in the Bosnia area, but that was a lot of police type duty, and remembering what one young soldier told me, boring – but a way to get to the other side of the Atlantic and do some traveling on their R&R.
The Iraq deployment was something different. They were gone for so long. First in Mississippi and that was difficult, but there were phone calls nightly, they even came home for Christmas leave.. so while we were all worried, it was for “later” . Later came after a rain soaked farewell parade – the tears, the hugs and the “be careful”s. Later came when the phone stopped ringing when they were flying, when they got to the staging area. Later came when mailing packages, and for some putting the blue star in the window. Later came when the rest of the State seemed to forget they were there, and the sympathy dried up… until the first funeral.
These parents told me, over and over, that this was just what the kid did to get to college – or when he was drifting and didn’t seem to have a focus – what she wanted to do for her country, herself, her family – how he got the training for a good job. They hadn’t come to that realization of what it really meant to “Be Army” yet, not like the parents whose child joined the full time service, and in this day and age, we all know what that means.
It’s a realization more and more NG parents are having to face. Are you? Tell us about it. This is a place for Parents of Active Military, for information, for a shoulder when you need it. We understand.