“Less than 1 percent of the American population is bearing 100 percent of the burden of battle.” - Tom Brokaw
Do you know someone fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan? Do you know a family who has a loved one fighting? If you don’t, Tom Brokaw says that you don’t think about the war or the people fighting it.
And I agree.
I was military-illiterate before I started dating my boyfriend. And even when we were together, he rarely spoke about his work so my acronym knowledge was lacking compared to most military families. When he came back from Iraq after eight months, I moved to where he was stationed. I met the military families and his fellow Marines - and I was floored.
My boyfriend was a Marine Corps Officer. He graduated college, had a good job lined up, but always wanted to go into the Marine Corps. Why? Because he was compelled to serve his country. And mostly every other service member shares that exact sentiment.
But what about the families? Husbands and wives endure multiple deployments and location changes. Children don’t see their parents for up to a year and a half. Parents miss their child’s first words, first steps, and first birthday party.
These are the people who hold down the fort at home while the spouse or parent goes to war.
These are the people who try to ensure a smooth transition home.
These are the people who are just as brave and just as resilient as the men and women who fight for us.
How often do you think of them? Do you think of them? Could you imagine going that long without seeing your loved ones - let alone thinking you may not ever see them again?
The families are strong. They choose and accept this lifestyle. They don’t ask for help. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t give it to them.
This post is for the families.
It is for the pregnant wife moving by herself across many states while her husband is stationed in Iraq to make sure he has a home to return to.
It is for the new mother who raises an infant while her husband leaves for Afghanistan only a few short months after their child is born.
It is for the spouse and parent who is the go-to on base for all of the other families, in addition to his/her own.
It is for the young couple in love, waiting to start a life together.
It is for the children who only know their parents through Internet video chats.
It is for the parents, the siblings, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the best friends, the nieces, the nephews, the girlfriends, the boyfriends, and the people who hope and pray and wait for their loved ones to come home.
Oprah did a special recently because of Tom Brokaw’s insistence and admitted that she doesn’t consciously think about the war or the people fighting it. She pledged to do something about it. Michelle Obama was also there to speak about Serve.gov - resources for military families and opportunities for us to be aware and get involved.
One particular story made my heart twist. Watch it here. Corey’s unit was hit by an IED - he is the only survivor but is now blind and can barely walk or speak. His wife and children take care of him night and day.
His story is not the only one. Even service members who aren’t injured physically or mentally have a rough time transitioning back home. It isn’t easy.
If you want to help, go here for resources. Understand what these men and women do for you every day and what their families endure. Find out if your friends have other friends or family members serving or if someone in your community is serving. Reach out to those families. Offer help, and do something anyway if they refuse it. Anything…a meal, a babysitter, shoveling the snow, or cutting the lawn.
Be kind. Be respectful. Be aware.
(Please share this article with everyone you know.)
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