“good morning america” interviews…my nephew and his 4 children…

A very proud moment for our extended family was broadcast to the world on Good Morning America this morning.

Our nephew was interviewed along with two other dads by George Stephanopoulos.

Loreto has been a military man for many years, having served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan through several tours of duty. Needless to say he has missed watching his 4 children grow up, being home intermittently throughout their young lives.

Our niece Danielle, Loreto’s wife, has supported her husband in his career and seen to the upbringing of their children while he ‘s away. They feel blest when he is home with them and knowing Danielle, I’m certain she assures Loreto that he is still very much head of their family.

I’m certain they have their share of problems to deal with, as any family does. However I’m just as certain that military families with loved ones fighting overseas suffer in ways most of us could not even imagine.

Loreto and Danielle have done brilliantly…together and apart. Upon returning from the Middle East, he spent a few years at West Point teaching. And while tending to the needs of her children, she managed to earn a nursing degree and became a pediatric nurse. No slouch, either of them.

I salute our nephew and niece in their determination to do right by themselves, their children, their families, and their community.

Hawaii Pictures Kelly's Wedding 010Danielle and Loreto carry on the legacy of my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Parents who, by their example, instilled in their 12 children the importance of education, hard work, and compassion for others. All of which continues to pass from one generation to the next with the same dedication to living exemplary lives.IMG_3363

If I sound like a proud aunt…

…i am!!!

………hugmamma.

(Click below to watch the interview with George Stephanopoulos on today’s segment of Good Morning America.)

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/fathers-day-dads-surprised-kids-fathers-day-message-24102898

an opinion…to ponder

I came across the following in today’s Wall Street Journal which I thought deserved sharing, primarily because of its author.

afghanistan

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

The gentleman is not someone of notoriety; rather, he’s more like…every man.


A Marine Volunteers–for a Pay Cut

by Benjamin Luxenberg

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veter...

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veterans who escorted the unclaimed remains of seven Iowa veterans to their final resting place at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery line the procession route with American flags after providin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America owes its veterans. For the past 12 years, they have toiled and sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in so many other places around the world. Thousands made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, and thousands more were wounded. Even those without serious injuries gave their blood, sweat and tears. When service members take their oath, they are writing a blank check to the U.S. government, to the American people, for their lives. When and how America chooses to cash that check is beyond their control.

Nor should the untold sacrifices of military families be forgotten. How many husbands weren’t with their wives during the birth of their child? How many kids’ birthdays or Little League games were missed? How many childhoods were missed almost entirely? Twelve years of war does that. The time cannot pay veterans enough to compensate for those kinds of losses.

America has asked–or, more truthfully, demanded–so much from its veterans. And yet the country must now ask for more. Not for more of those things that really matter, the things that make life worth living. What the country seeks is more material in nature: basically, money.

The current budget sequestration plan protects military pay at the expense of all other costs in the Defense Department. Because our pay (I am a Marine) has become sacrosanct, even deeper cuts in the rest of the Defense Department budget will have to be made–cuts that will endanger us now and in the future. It isn’t just a matter of national security but also of personal security. As the Pentagon reduces funds for equipment, troops may begin to wonder: Are we going to be forced to surrender body armor to keep our pay? A more reasonable balance needs to be found. Even the currently envisioned cuts won’t necessarily be enough to stave off future ones, especially if military pay continues to be off-limits.

National security shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of military pay. But cuts wouldn’t have to start with basic paychecks. They could begin by aligning special pay across the branches. For example, airmen who serve aboard Navy ships earn “hardship pay” while the sailors aboard those same ships don’t. Serving aboard ship isn’t reasonably more difficult for an airman than it is for a sailor or Marine. Lodging and food allowances for those temporarily assigned to certain units can be reduced; there is no need for service members who are on temporary active duty in Bahrain–sometimes for as long as a year–to receive $142 per day on top of all the other moneys and forms of compensation. And there are, no doubt, dozens of other small fixes that can make some difference to the military budget.

But, ultimately, even base pay may have to be put on the line. Congress should cut only what feels justified in the name of national security. The cuts should be done the American way: Those who most need the money should be affected the least. Don’t start with cuts for everyone across the board. In the Marine Corps, we have a saying” “Officers eat last.” We officers exist to serve the enlisted Marines under our command. Start with us. But don’t start with those of us who are married and on whom spouses depend. Don’t start with those of us who have children. Start with those of us who don’t. Start with the single, childless officers. Start with me.

Yet active-duty service members and veterans cannot endure these sacrifices alone. For the past dozen years, most Americans have barely felt the impact of the wars and deployments abroad. To steer the government and the U.S. economy–the greatest pillar of national security–back on track, let everyone bear some of the burden. Let civilian officials take a pay cut too. Let older Americans, including my own grandparents–Nani, Papa Bernie, Grandma Dorothy–accept some cuts in Medicare. The middle-aged (that means you, Mom and Dad) must accept some cuts to Social Security benefits upon retirement. And to my civilian friends (Greg, Preethi, David, Anna), you must accept raising the Social Security retirement age, whether it is a mere two years or a painful 10.

It is long past time for all Americans to share in the sacrifice. Nothing should be off the table. Maintaining present comforts at the expense of future security endangers everything that veterans and their families have fought for. Don’t tell them that they fought in vain. That is what America owes.

Mr. Luxenberg is a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His views do not represent those of the Defense Department or USMC.


We all make sacrifices, big and small.

Even civilian families are often denied the substantive presence of working fathers…and mothers. And many do not have Uncle Sam footing the bill for health care costs and the like. 

Notwithstanding such comparable sacrifices, those in the military are charged with the extraordinary task of dying…to preserve our freedom and those of others who desire democracy for themselves.

Death is…the ultimate sacrifice.

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. M...

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. Marine with the Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Barracks Washington, plays Taps during an interment ceremony for 11 Marines recently brought back from Vietnam. Hundreds of friends, family and service members were on hand to pay tribute to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice so many years before. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…not something to be taken lightly…

………hugmamma.

a hand-up, our military defenders and their loved ones

  

 

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.