Soldiers Have Parents??

We are a military family. All three of our sons enlisted while they were single (unmarried) and many of “Our Guys” (soldiers we consider family) have also been single. As a result, I have from time to time done some complaining about how about half of Army soldiers are UNmarried but that “family” resources and information were principally for spouses — parents left out of the loop. (I actually asked what was being done for the “other half” of the Army while participating in a blogger’s roundtable that included the Secretary of the Army…)
While recently cruising the Army Home Page on Military OneSource, I was pleased to see the following prominently featured on the page:

New to the Army? Help Keep Your Parents in the Loop

If you’ve just joined the Army and your parents aren’t familiar with military life, keep them in the loop with these materials:

I don’t know how long that’s been up there and I’m sure the Army didn’t need any prodding from parents… however it got there and however long it’s been there, THANK YOU!!

The information under “When Your Son or Daughter…” is pretty basic (it’s a starting point), but you should also seek out additional information from sites specific to the military installation/branch of service where your child is undergoing training.

The “Resources…” page provides links to official and unofficial web sites that you might, as a parent, find useful, but also be sure to check out blogs like ParentsZone.org and other military blogs (“Milblogs” — you can find blogs by branch of service as well as those blogs by parents at www.milblogging.com).

As the parent of a soldier, you should become familiar with some of the other resource information contained on other Army and Dept. of Defense sites for future reference… such as the Army Well-Being site and the Military Homefront page.

I’d really like the Army and the other services to produce content specific to parents (or non-spousal family) with the idea that these people are usually remote (away) from their soldier’s military installation and typically have no idea how to contact the installation or chain of command (or even who that might be) in an emergency… or what resources are available to their soldier/sailor/marine/airman/coastie or to the family member (be that a parent, aunt, uncle, sister or brother…) when faced with serious issues involving their child (for example, post-deployment issues). (And, yes, I know that there are those who actually joined the military to AVOID their parents… but every soldier has a next-of-kin somewhere — that are not “in the loop” but should be!)

I did also find some parent-related information for the other services (some official, some unofficial):

for Parents of Marines
A Parent’s Guide to the Marine Corps
USMC – Recruit Training
Marine Parents.com

For Navy Parents
Navy for Moms
Navy Dads

For Air Force Parents
Parents of the Enlisted

AF — you could do better… information or links for parents could easily be added to AFCrossroads.

For Coast Guard Parents (nice job CG!!)

For National Guard Families

General informational links for all branches, Guard and Reserves at Today’s Military and Military.com

Impact of deployment on children

kids-out-in-spring

I’ve heard the children of the military called the youngest draftees – they are the ones who didn’t sign up for the life as a military brat, they were born into it, or their parent signed up and they were pulled along into it.

My son was a MilBrat – then we got out and he didn’t soak in the military (except for one weekend a month and two weeks a year) until later – then he joined up.  Now he’s out of the Army – Our granddaughter will only get the military lifestyle one level removed, her grandpa Chief is in and will be for a while.

I’ve talked to military spouses, who are coping with deployments, but watching as their children have trouble getting through yet another absence by that service member.  It’s hard to watch your child hurting – and it’s agony to watch your child’s child in pain.  The military has realized there is a problem.

Deployments since fighting began in Iraq and Afghanistan have affected nearly 2 million military children, and about 234,000 of those children currently have at least one parent deployed, according to a 2007 Defense Manpower Data Center report.

The Defense Department has programs for the children, as does Military OneSource; We all know about the Sesame Street DVD and I’m told having Elmo tell you something is very special (direct from the granddaughter’s mouth!) The Military Child Education Coalition website looked promising to me.

As grandparents of military children, we have a special role in their lives.  I remember that when we moved constantly (when my father was in the State Department), my grandparents were my constant, their house was always the same, I could find everything and my Omi was a rock who was there, always.  It’s an important role for us – any advice for your fellow MilParent?

LAW

How can she help Military Parents?

Parents – I received an email from an employee at a Best Buy store.. and I was so impressed with her desire to help the parents of serving military. What would YOU want to tell her? Can we get her the information she needs? can we help her, help more like us? I’ve already sent her the Blue Star Mothers site – but there has to be more we can do!

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My name is Sabrina and I’ve been put in charge of the military initiatives here at my Best Buy Store . I saw your site and was very curious. You see in my store, and I’m sure many others, we have quite a few employees who are either returning from deployments, returning from TBS/OCS, or are looking into joining the military. Although our store is situated near a military recruiting office, I don’t believe that there’s enough information for the parents, siblings, or children of those that are in, or seeking to go into, the military.

As we also have a volunteer mentoring program here at our store, and as part of our corporate community relations initiatives; I was wondering what assistance our military employees could be to the parents of someone looking to join the military and to the children of military parents.

With the Military recruiting offices being so close to so many locations of BBY stores, quite a few of the younger employees who have considered a military career go over and ask for information or talk with recruiters. While this helps them, I don’t believe it provides enough information to their parents and/or siblings who need to understand what their children/siblings/family member will be going into. So many of what I overhear from the ones with concerns are questions like: Is my child going off to die? How will TBS/OCS change who they are? Will I know my child when they come home from training/deployment?

I’d like to be able to offer the concerned parents/family members some kind of resource or forum that they can go to attain the answers they need. Someplace where they can talk to other parents with the same concerns, and others who have been through this and know what is the best way they can be concerned while still being supportive of their loved ones decision. Most parents worry about their children going off to college, but when that child wants to discuss joining the military it becomes a whole new ball game. I’d like to be able to offer what support and resources I can.

Signs of Respect

In Sullivan Illinois, the residents have found a great way to honor their military residents serving in the US Armed Forces. When many were deployed to Afghanistan in 2004, the soldier’s names were nailed to lampposts. As more and more young people volunteered in Sullivan, population 4,400, the parents decided to keep up the tradition.

More than a hundred town residents have served abroad and dozens more will still deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan.  Some names have hung more than once while spouses and siblings are displayed two to a post.

This is the town’s small, informal way of showing its respect to those members of the community who for the most part joined the military out of patriotism.

In Sullivan, the effort to support military personnel and their families includes churches, care package packing parties and coffee klatches. The wonderful thing here is the residents have taken their support an additional step by putting up the signs and honoring their military even further.

As we military family members know, support is imperative during deployment. It is hard for non-military people to understand the fear and helplessness when a loved one deploys for a war zone. The signs are a great way of reminding people on a daily basis that someone’s family member is in harm’s way and protecting each and every one of us.

Since my son will soon be deployed my need for support and understanding grows with each passing day. I think doing something like this in my hometown would be a great comfort to me. Maybe since this story is out other towns might want to do something like this too.

Some might worry about putting a loved one’s name on a sign in public. Let’s face it there are a few crazies out there. I suggest family members or the actual service member have the option of just using their first name. The whole world does not necessarily have to know the service member’s whole name and this might bring a little piece of mind to people who may be skeptical.

So I say spread the word and maybe this could grab some momentum and before we know it many towns and cities could be demonstrating yet one more way to say thank you to our brave military.

ProudMom3

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