National Guard Parents – a different experience

July 31, 2008 · Filed Under Military Parents 

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.



3 Responses to “National Guard Parents – a different experience”

  1. stacy lee on July 31st, 2008 12:47 pm

    It was different I can certainly say that. I was fortunate living in Mississippi and my son was stationed only 2 hours from home, and I made many trips to Camp Shelby just for a 30 minute visit. Now that we are looking at a second deployment soon, I am thankful for what I learned during that first deployment. I too thought when my son joined that it would be just a one weekend a month deal and the two weeks in the summer, and boy was I wrong. He has been on active duty since the day he graduated from AIT. So for us, it feels like Army and not just National Guard.

  2. jane Via LAW on August 1st, 2008 10:25 am

    This is a response we got on the RSS Feed – if you hit Reply on that, it goes to TEch Mama. Please click on the link in the email – it’ll bring you here. ANYWAY – From another NG mom

    My son is Natl Guard and this month about to deploy a 2nd time. We are lost because there’s no good fit. We are not active Army yet our troops are in the big middle of this whole effort. I’ve seen my son twice now, over the past 4 years, load his belongings into my garage, stuff his clothes into plastic tubs, and take leave from his job….not knowing for SURE if that job will be waiting when he returns. I watch him pack his duffle bag and his trunk and wonder if he remembers happier times when as a little boy he used to stuff unnecessary junk into his school backpack . My son joined just after 9/11 and he joined because he truly wanted to be of service. We warned him then that during times such as these, active duty would surely be a reality.
    So, yes, us guard parents experience both worlds just as full-time active duty personnel families. We live in the day-to-day dread of the unknown and unexpected. We stand in lines at the post office to mail packages, we check e-mail constantly every day and we experience moments of tears as the thought of a young child crosses our mind….and we realize the only thing we can do as a parent is wait, pray, and anticipate our soldier’s return.

  3. Kathy Magorian on August 4th, 2008 4:16 pm

    Finally it feels like someone else is willing to talk about the “other” military parents….Those of us who, although knew deployment was a huge possibility, really didn’t understand what it could be like. Three months of training in New Jersey, a short weekend before Iraq, then a full year in the sand. Our son joined after 9/11 with never a second thought about serving. He wanted to, was anxious to, and was so proud to leave with his unit. Then, just 2 months after arriving in Baghdad, 2 road side bombs took 2 of his platoon, two more were severely injured, one died from complications 3 months later, the other requires 24/7 care. The nights of no sleep, the days when everyone forgot what he was doing and where he was….except us, who were afraid to say the words “what if he’s next?” Another road side bomb 2 months before homecoming and a 4th casuality. He’s been home just shy of 2 years, is married, and looking to another deployment within the next 6 months, destination unknown. This is the third time his college years will be disrupted. Will he graduate or just get tired of starting over? He came home, but forever changed by what he saw and had to do in the name of freedom. He is still proud, strong and our beautiful soldier/son, will he be whole in mind and body if he comes home again? Who of his unit, this time, will be remembered as a fallen hero? So many questions without answers…. And yes, we realize that all we can really do is wait, pray and live in today….God Bless all military parents.

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