Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Serving those who serve April 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — dayna @ 11:43 pm

I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never really given it that much thought.

Deployment just hasn’t been a part of my personal reality.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been appreciative in words, thoughts, or prayers towards military family acquaintances. Or that I haven’t shed tears while watching movies depicting the struggles and transitions of those affected by deployment. Or that I haven’t been completely in awe upon meeting a military spouse juggling family, work, or school.

I just hadn’t given specific thought to the question “How does that work?”

A month or so ago, the girls and I entertained a sweet runaway dog for a few hours while we attempted to locate her owner. Thankfully, she was micro-chipped and after numerous phone calls, we were able to trace her to a temporary home at a neighbor’s house.  The neighbor is a young man serving in the Air Force and trying to contain dog-sit this pony-sized pup while her “mommy” is deployed.

That evening I mused to my husband about how common that situation must be amongst our single young people serving, and how difficult it would be to find someone to care for your pet for such an extended amount of time. I was baffled that it had never occurred to me before.

Recently, a friend’s husband was deployed for the first time in their married life. His wife is a lovely soft-spoken woman who is bright and always incredibly positive. She is a mother to four (!) teenager-ish kids and works outside the home full-time.  She mentioned that this was coming and I tried to be supportive in word and by listening, but… that was pretty much it. Gulp.

And then he went, and there were glimpses that this might be (duh) really hard for her. Another sweet friend sprang into action organizing some meals for the family so that they would have at least one less thing to deal with right now. But beyond the food and the normal friendly attempts at trying to cheer her up and let her know that we are here to listen, I am ashamed to say that I am a bit at a loss.

My brain has been whirring.

How would my family do that? We would have to use so much childcare! How would transportation work? How would everything get done? The details of my (albeit imaginary) scenario quickly grew daunting. And that’s not even considering the emotional toll on a wife…on a family.

So comes the question, “How do we show our appreciation for this family’s willingness to serve?”

I found a few potentially helpful websites. I also found some tough statistics. In a recent Operation Appreciation survey, about 90% of military family members said that they felt that the general public didn’t understand the sacrifices they make.

So I am asking you for your help. Got any ideas?

Have you or your spouse ever been deployed? How did others support you in ways that were really truly helpful? I would love specific ways to support a family during this challenging time. How do we assure our friend that although we know she is strong and competent, ________ is the least we can do…

I hope you will join in the discussion and help me fill in the blanks.

  *In my internet ramblings, I was also led to Ashleigh’s blog where she writes about this experience with courage, honesty, and rare beauty. 



4 Responses to “Serving those who serve”

  1. Becca Says:

    I love this post, Dayna. I don’t think may people really understand what it’s like to have a family member deployed.

    Our friend Darcie knows about this, unfortunately.

    My husband was never deployed overseas, but had several short trips around the states. I also have two close friends dealing with this right now. They have young children and were stationed far away from their family. My one friend counted the days, and says that her husband was home for about 60 days in the last year.

    What can you do? Babysitting coupons, offer to bring dinner over (and eat with her – I bet she would appreciate adult company!), call when you’re heading to the store and ask if you can grab anything for her. Buy her some generic greeting cards and stamps. Ask if you can send a package to her husband – it’ll cross one more thing off of her to-do list for the week.

    It’s hard to put yourself in those shoes. I am sure that anything you offer would be appreciated 🙂

    • dohadden Says:

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful suggestions Becca!
      I honestly wasn’t sure if the meal delivery should be more of a “baby-meal” drop off style or actual visit. It is hard to feel some of that out when friends are embarassed or wanting to be polite.
      I love the card and stamp idea. I hadn’t thought of that but I’m sure it does add up. I’ll have to pick some up on the next Costco excursion 😉

  2. Kim Says:

    Well, having been deployed I can tell you that it is a tough experience and something that takes A LOT of coordination. That being said, it is an individual experience for each family that goes through it. In my situation we had ZERO family support where we were located so thank goodness we had great childcare that accepted my then 1 year old for 10 hours a day Mon-Fri. I think the best way you can support the troops is to try and keep the family members left behind in good spirits and offer whatever talents you have whether it be in the form of food, babysitting, or taking them out to lunch and a movie. Care packages are awesome for the person deployed, but best to check with the spouse to find out what resources they have (like access to microwaves for canned soup for example). Also, certain regions have limitations on what can be sent – benign magazines in the US like fitness magazines can be considered contraband in a highly Muslim area, so again, check with the spouse.

    The fact that you even took the time to think about how your family mioght deal with this situation puts you about 90% ahead of the rest of the civilian population!

    • dohadden Says:

      Oh Miss Kim. I am so glad you commented! I was hoping you would, given your specific experience as a new mommy deployed. I don’t know how you guys did it- but we are forever grateful that you did. You continue to amaze me, friend.
      Thanks also for your specific info about care packages. There are alot of things to consider that I probably would not have thought of.
      I just can’t seem to get this subject off my mind- got to do something. Embarassed that I haven’t done more…

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