Armed services personnel and their families were the focus of today’s Oprah. Guests included 2 servicemen, one wounded in war, and their families, a mother whose soldier son was killed in action, retired TV anchor Tom Brokaw, renowned journalist Bob Woodward, and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Brokaw brokered the deal with Oprah to produce the show. He asked that recognition be shown those, a meager one percent of the American population, upon whom the rest of us depend for protection. Those who appeared with Brokaw agreed that the men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those continuing to do so, along with their loved ones who remain behind managing their lives as best they can, MUST register more substantively within the American psyche. They cannot be dismissed as statistics on the news, or given a pat on the back in the airport and forgotten.
Oprah admitted that she too was ignorant about the extent to which the current wars have impacted those serving, and their families. Until yesterday she, and very likely most of her viewing audience, in studio and at home, couldn’t put faces to those defending our freedom. In fact, Oprah indicated that she knew no one serving in the military. Nonetheless that doesn’t excuse us from reaching out to those who put themselves in harm’s way for our sakes, and their families who are without their loved ones, struggling to make ends meet, or feeling alone and isolated.
It’s obvious from what I’ve witnessed firsthand as well as on TV, that military households maintain the same attitude as those who serve. Wives and children “keep a stiff upper lip,
and keep on going. Many of them, unaware as to when their family member might be returning home. And probably most of them dreading the possibility that person may not make it back to them. How they wrap their minds around the ever present “what if” that must occupy the furthest corners of their minds, I don’t know.
One of my nieces, Danielle, is a military wife caring for several young children, 4 or 5 of them, if my memory serves me correctly. Her husband is a career soldier, having seen 3 tours, beginning in Iraq and ending in Afghanistan. Loretto evidently demonstrated great leadership skills for he is now teaching at West Point Military Academy in upstate New York. From what I know, he has willingly gone to war, while my niece has handled life at home. But not only has she done fine, she seems to have thrived.
Leaving Hawaii and an extended close knit family to live on the mainland, didn’t seem to upset Danielle. In fact she loved the independence she acquired. Raising her children without the safety net of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, did not deter her from creating a community among new friends. She shared babysitting services with others, gathered with them socially over home-cooked meals and outdoor barbecues. When the family returned to Hawaii for a few years, Danielle got her nursing degree. Upon moving yet again for her husband’s West Point appointment, she found work as a pediatric nurse while her children are in school. God bless my niece’s stamina for tackling the unknown with a young brood, and her obvious resilience in making a home for all of them, regardless where that might be. I would wish the same for all wives and moms, military and non-military alike.
Having raised our awareness of the plight of military families, Mrs. Obama recommends that Americans can reach out to them in big and small ways. Educators can seek out and offer support to those students who have parents serving. Health practitioners can offer affordable care to returning vets in need of counseling, or physical healing. My chiropractor, for example, displays a notice in her window inviting vets in for a free session. How cool is that?! Neighbors can help military moms by giving them a break from children, meal preparation, or an invitation to coffee and an opportunity to vent. When Danielle happened to be living in the same city where I lived with my daughter while she was training for her ballet career, we prepared a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. Memories of that day remain vividly etched in our minds and hearts. It was a loving, family celebration.
In a post from 12/6/10, “good samaritan #8” Michael Reagan has found a way to “give back.”
The website, www.fallenheroesproject.org puts those wishing to “bring a loved one home,” in touch with the artist. It also allows those touched by Michael Reagan’s humanitarian service, to make donations toward his singular effort. Besides donating his labor, Reagan also makes a gift of the materials. I’m certain he’s also included the silent tears he’s shed, as a bonus.
In trying to do my small part in the effort to reach out, I would like to offer words of solace to those in need of comfort. I understand that I might have a gift for writing, so if you know of anyone suffering emotional scars as a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, or their family members, I would welcome the opportunity to email brief notes that might provide respite from their pain.
we can all do something…however small…hugmamma.