Deployment – Parent’s style

I was asked to post this – and it sure would be great to get OUR voices and experiences heard.  Dr. Crow has gone through deployments of her son to Iraq and her daughter in law to Afghanistan, so she understands.  But to help her tell our story, get the information about what deployments are like for the parents of these men and women – she needs our help.

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Parents of Service Members who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan….

Your input is needed to understand the experience of a parent who has had (or currently has) a son or daughter deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Parents are very much a part of the military family and yet very little is known about their experiences and how they support their deployed adult children. Dr. Janet Crow, an assistant professor of Child and Family Studies at Baylor University, is conducting a survey of parents of service members to add your perceptions to what we know about how military families cope with deployment. If you are interested in participating simply go to: https://www1.baylor.edu/surveys/crow/deployed_child.htm. You will find a complete explanation of the study and will be able to add your experiences by completing the anonymous online survey.

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Please – go over and give her your input.  Thanks!

LAW

Beyond Tribute – Memorial Day

beyond-tributeI went to  the launch for Beyond Tribute yesterday, and with the Memorial Day weekend coming up, wanted to make sure all our  readers (those loyal few) get the word!

Beyond Tribute is  – to quote one of the founders – not a charity, not an organization, it’s an idea!  The idea is to make the holidays that should be devoted to veterans and those who gave their lives,  mean more again.  To those in America who don’t know anyone in the military –  and we all know how many that description fits – right now Memorial Day is the day for a good sale – and none of us will turn down a good sale!  But wouldn’t it be even better if the business doing that great sale on purses (that’s for Pam Eggleston the purse maven, the milspouse who spoke at the launch about her life with Charles, her husband and wounded warrior) was going to contribute part of the profits from that sale to programs for vets?  General Wesley Clark said at the launch that we need to transform Memorial Day and Veterans Day back into a holiday of more meaning.  The President of Gold Star Mothers spoke very movingly at the launch as well.  We cannot allow this day to be only the day the pool opens, the day for a great bargain on a dress..  We must remember, we must make everyone else remember too!

So – if you haven’t taken the pledge yet – go over and do it. Then send the link to the businesses you use – big and small.  Send the link to your family, send the link to your friends and co-workers. Let’s put the memories back into Memorial Day, and by Veteran’s Day – make the rest of the country remember the veterans.

LAW

Outside Looking In

Except for the occasional (negative) story buried somewhere on page 25 (or unless you read Milblogs), you hardly ever hear about Operation Iraqi Freedom any more. No one even calls it that — it’s just called “the war”. But it is important to remind people that the War goes on and that there are still soldiers — importantly, Citizen Soldiers — who are still deploying and leaving This World for That World… and leaving loved ones to carry on Between Two Worlds.
Talking to Stacy and her new daughter-in-law Kristy today and reading Melinda’s posts made me all teary-eyed and I was reminded of that idiot Pennsylvania Congressman’s comment a few years back about how the War “needed to get personal”. How much more personal can it get than mothers and wives and children saying goodbye to their much-loved soldiers? How much more meaningful can it be for those who must sleep alone and/or be the single parent or to worry about their sons and husbands and daddies for the next twelve or fifteen months??

Stacy and I talk regularly and I am in touch with a number of other milmoms and milspouses via email… and while I have most definitelybeen there, and absolutely done that“, I am not “there” this time as I have no relations deploying this year. I am not discounting the Navy son’s current at-sea deployment… but he’s not boots on the ground and neither he nor we will worry whether the contracted and meagerly-paid Ugandans providing security have been adequately trained and armed, nor will we worry whether our son will have hot meals, safe showers, or whether he will have to duck for cover. Nor will we worry whether his combat or security operation has all the requisite Iraqi approvals. (As if just serving in a combat zone were not worry enough!!)

Of course, we and our daughter-in-law and their daughters miss our son (and he, us and them) while he is deployed; and, of course, we worry because being on a large Navy ship has its dangers and perils. But this time — with these deployments — I feel on the outside looking in. Yes, my heart speeds up when I think about Stacy’s son Michael going again (he was last deployed when Noah was in Iraq) and when I think about Melinda’s DH; and yes, I am often misty-eyed trying to find the right words of encouragement and solace for my close personal friends as well as for any number of moms and parents who email. My heart especially hurts for Melinda’s daughters who must do without their Dad’s loving arms and whispered encouragements and who cannot fully understand their father’s Mission and commitment to it. I am saddened that Kristy will miss out on this most precious first year of marriage and I pray that this deployment will serve to strengthen their bond for all the years to come.

Make no mistake: talking to Stacy and thinking of Kristy and Melinda brings back every twinge, palpitation, caught breath and skipped heartbeat. While all of us who have experienced the part of being HERE while they are THERE like to fool ourselves that we have buried and dealt with those emotions, they are never far away; the waves of fear and the tingling of tears are much closer to the surface than we care to admit, and they rush up and smack us and consume us with the least bit of prodding. But.it.is.not.the.same.

I will most definitely be there for Stacy, Kristy, Melinda, M1 and M2 and their Guys just as they were there for me and My Guys. And I ask each of you to re-commit yourselves to taking REAL efforts to support our Troops and let them know that we have not forgotten them. You can start by stopping by Stacy’s and Melinda’s blogs and letting them know that they and their soldiers are in your thoughts and prayers… and then GO HERE. You can make a difference.

x-posted at Some Soldier’s Mom

Blue Star Moms – the Month of the Military Child

Reaching Out to the Community

One of the services that we promise to provide as a member of the BSM is to educate, another is to support.  While we as parents have always done this for our own children, not all of us have done this for others.  It’s just not an easy thing to do, to reach out when you, yourself are hurting inside.  I find that this is my own way of healing and dealing.  Healing the hurt of not having my “baby” with me because he is stationed elsewhere and dealing with the worry, hurt and anger that I feel some times about his being in harms way.  Many times we don’t want to give voice to what we are trying to deal with, and it’s damned hard to recognize that we cannot protect those who we have carried for 9 months.  That’s why, when I received an update from militaryHOMEFRONT regarding April being the Month of the Military Child, that I decided to request the DVD’s from them (free) to share with my granddaughters.

I wanted them because my oldest granddaughter had asked her Dad just before he left for his first sandbox tour, “what if you die? What will I do?” And for the other two, one who began bedwetting because her sister started Kindergarten and having one more person “leaving” and being separated from her was more then she could take at the time. I wanted to help them be able to see that they are not alone, that other childrens daddies and mommies were not at home too.

Little did I know that so much more would come of this.

After emailing for the free DVD’s, I received an email from, and later had the pleasure of meeting Col. Patrin, MIL USA MEDCOM CMONT one of those who has worked so hard with Maj Lemmon (and many others) to create these free DVDs for the children (and families) of the deployed and who is trying to get the word out about them.  My mind began going into overdrive when I started to think of how useful and far reaching this could go in my own hometown.  Beginning with just 3 little girls, reaching out to local schools, counselors, mentors, FAMILIES!!!  The list is practically endless as to who should & needs to view these DVDs.  We are all affected by what is happening, as adults we are able to express how we feel, sometimes effectively and other times, well, not as effectively as we would like.  But, imagine being 4 years old and not being able to see Dad or Mom and not really knowing why they are gone or where they are at.  Or being 12 years old and having to take on chores that used to be taken care of by one of your parents, as one young man states “having to man up”.  Or being a young child or teen and hearing your Mom cry when she thinks you don’t hear her and not being able to help console her, feeling helpless and defenseless.  That is what our children and grandchildren are going through, we are not the only ones.

Our BSM’s previewed the teen/young adult video last night.  What struck me was that all of the children interviewed in the teen/young adult DVD expressed the same feelings that we, as parents, have given voice to when we reach out to each other.  Yet, they hold it in, feeling that they are alone in one way or another while their parent is deployed.  I don’t know why I was surprised. Believe me, as a former Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, School Bus Driver and youth camp director, not to mention a MOM, I know when a child is not happy.  Finding out what they are unhappy about however, is not always easy.  Getting to know them can be a struggle if they don’t want to let you in.  But, it is up to all of us, as members of the military community to seek out these families with children of the deployed to help them through this difficult time in their lives.  To connect with each other as well so that we stay healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally.

What even surprised me more was how it affected our Moms who were previewing the video.  An awareness dawned on all of us, that maybe, we could do something to help our military families with children.  It opened up discussions about how we feel as well.  My proposal to them was to ask them if they would be willing to work with me in educating our community, carrying forth our mission to help not only our Troops but those courageous ones left behind.  So that is what we will be doing during the Month of the Military Child and beyond, we will be helping in any way we can, to educate the community through the use of these DVDs and their handouts and promoting other programs that are available like the Operation Purple Camp.

I believe in the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child.”  If we don’t help to ease the minds of our Soldiers while they are away from home by helping to care for the most precious people in their lives, who will?

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