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Homefront Wife: My Letters from the Homefront

 

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One Response

  1. Here’s my story –

    I thought I knew about military families. They volunteered, they chose that life. I shed tears watching newscasts of soldiers leaving –seeing them part from their families, with spouses hugging, children clinging, everyone crying. I ranted about the evil of war, but once out of my sight, it was forgotten. I didn’t think about the effect of deployments. I didn’t know.

    Then a dear Navy reservist friend of my daughter began a deployment, leaving behind two young children. It took the shock of his separation from his children, and from my daughter, to get me to face my ignorance and lack of interest. I was touched. I was involved.

    I now had a daughter who was “left behind” and while I knew she and her friend would stay connected writing to each other, I thought of the others left behind without that ability: his children.

    After searching online and finding nothing for deployed parents to easily communicate with their young children, I realized I’d have to do it myself.

    I sought a way for him to keep in touch with his children that would engage them. So I designed postcards – easy for him to send. With printed drawings to color and other activities – fun for the children to do themselves and send back -their very own mail! They’d share the accomplishments; the art would keep them connected.

    So began my “Troops In Touch” ™ project and thoughts of making these cards available to others experiencing the pain of separations.

    How would I reach them? I didn’t have a clue. This was a world I knew nothing about. The only military person I knew was now overseas and pretty much out of reach.

    I visited a recruiting office, VA groups, posted notices, but still didn’t know how to reach families. At a nearby Armory, I met soldiers who distributed the postcards to some families and I learned about Family Assistance and Readiness Groups. I became familiar with military jargon and spent hours online learning about and linking up with organizations that support military families. All of this an education. A new world.

    Then I read a NY Times op-ed piece by Melissa Seligman and once I contacted her, my life was truly never the same. She opened up the world of military wife and mother to me She became my biggest booster and a treasured friend.

    She helped me understand how my work, especially as a non-military person, impacts those it touches. She shared with me the pain and struggles of her daughter who loved the postcards, and used them to express anger and sadness of having her father removed from her for the fifth time.

    Melissa scanned her daughter’s drawings and sent them so I could see how what I drew was transformed into a means to help her hurting child. Seeing her child’s added drawn tears and “I miss you” writing on the printed drawings broke my heart. I was immeasurably moved and more deeply committed.

    Yes, the postcards may have an impact on some military families, but the impact on my life has been vast and in ways I cannot easily convey. I’ve learned about a way of life I knew nothing about. I’ve learned that patriotism is so strong for so many. And, I’ve developed appreciation for sacrifices made by ordinary people –especially young children.

    It took deployment coming to my door before I took action. At first, I was embarrassed by my lack of interest and knowledge, but now I feel connected, part of a community where service prevails. Even though my service involves no uniform.

    My family friend is home now, and I hope the need for the work he and his children inspired will be short-lived, but its impact will be everlasting. What began as a simple project to help him has evolved into me being forever changed.

    It started with a postcard. A small thing. Perhaps that’s all anyone needs. After all, the smallest things often reap big rewards.

    My reward came in a note from Melissa’s daughter: “Thank you for the postcards to send my daddy. I think they are perfect because I don’t have to write very much words and daddy sends them to me. I feel happy about you because you send the most good postcards. Love, Amelia.”

    I feel happy about you too Amelia. Your note is above my computer to remind me you’re the reason I am doing it. That’s why I think we should all do something. Even if we haven’t been personally touched. Even if that something feels so very small.

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