As the host of the Talking with Heroes Talk Show, I have interviewed many military personnel and family members. I have heard the sacrifices made, by both those deployed and the families left back home.
When I was with the Minnesota National Guard on my second trip to Iraq, they were so thankful for the care packages and the letters. But they were more concerned about their families at home. They asked me to ask people to not forget those who are back home. They asked that people were checking in on their families to see if they needed anything and to thank them.
In January ’05, my son in law deployed from Ft Riley. That deployment was for one year. My daughter had been in the military. At that time, they had no children but my daughter was very pregnant. She had their first child 5 days after his deployment. A year later he came back to be with her and their first child. I was not with my daughter then when she gave him the go away hug. I did not see the tears.
Tonight has been different. I have seen first hand the emotion of separation of families. Spouses who will not see each other for 12-15 months. Children who do not understand what is going on… babies and 2 and 3-year-old children saying goodbye not realizing they will not see their dad or mom for a long time.
It was all Moms in all the cases that I saw tonight who will be back home taking care of the child or children with the help of those who help them. For many of them like my daughter, this is the second or third deployment. There was the one wife who this was their first and she said, “I have no idea what to expect.”
But she said she would be checking in on my daughter to see if she needed any help. Those back home helping each other.
My daughter and son in law for this second deployment now have two children. The first … the boy … is almost three now and the baby girl is not a year old yet. Watching the boy play with dad in the car was incredible. Watching him say goodbye to dad not realizing how long dad will be gone. Watching my daughter and other wives and moms crying. It was not easy.
This is a part of deployments that most Americans do not have any idea about. The sacrifice is for sure on the men and women who deploy and go into possible harms way. But the sacrifice is huge on those left behind.
I have deliberately not mentioned any names, as this is the Internet. Who knows who is reading? But I do know that many who are reading this are saying … “I know what you are talking about.”
As I was witnessing this, the emotion was welling up inside of me too. But God willing … that I am able to find the sponsors for this next fourth trip to Iraq and first trip to Afghanistan. I will be in Iraq with my son in law and his Platoon and Battalion not too many months down the road. And I will bring back more of the progress stories from this group of soldiers who will be over there continuing the process of improving the lives of the Iraqis so that many many of our troops can come home and not have to go back.
The year 2008 will be a long year for all who love the men and women who are deployed. In the case of my son in law – my daughter and their two young children and his mom and dad and his sister and all those who love him.
Over the next month, I will be working on finding people who would be open to writing letters to him and others in his platoon and unit and battalion. I will help organizations that send them care packages and let them know that there are many Americans who truly appreciate their sacrifice.
And I will be finding out what organizations exist right here in Colorado Springs to give support for the families who are left behind.
I hope more people feel led to do something to support our troops and the families … something beyond the words … I support the troops … something that is action … that actually shows the deployed men and women and the families, who will appreciate whatever you do to support them.
All my Prayers go out to the many hundreds of soldiers in the 4ID 3BCT 1/8ID from Ft Carson and to all of our troops who are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. And especially to the families. We truly appreciate your sacrifice. We are praying for all of you to come home safe and for all your families to be happily reunited.