Today I had the opportunity to represent MOPS at a pre-deployment event for the families of some of our service men and women. It was an all-day event where the men and women and their families were informed of everything they would need to know before they deployed, covering subjects like how get get your will and finances in order to the high rate of suicide (NOTE: in the Army alone soldiers are committing suicide at the rate of one per day). For seven hours I watched these families cling to each other, react to the information they were receiving, and try to process what the future may hold. The Army had several vendors there to offer aid to the soldiers and the families members that would be on their own, and MOPS was one of those.
MOPS motto this past year has been No Mom Alone, and this event opened my eyes to a group of moms that are very alone. I watched those women specifically look scared and unsure and determined and strong. I just wanted to invite all of them for dinner and take their children so they could go shopping by themselves or out to coffee with their girlfriends. But realistically, that was 140 family units...that's just not possible.
I know we hear a lot about how to be grateful for our soldiers and the sacrifice they make and how to send them care packages. I don't want to deter people from doing that, but remember for every service man or woman that is deployed there is at least one family member at home that is sacrificing as well! Mike doesn't travel much, but when he is gone I have a new perspective on what it would be like to be a single mom and it is hard. But to be a single mom for six months, nine months, twelve months at a time?? And add to the stress not being able to talk to your spouse at a moments notice or to be wondering if they are safe, knowing they are in harms way...it is over-whelming just thinking about it.
So here is my challenge to myself and to you...
1. pray for the soldiers and their families
2. ask God to show you how you can help and be an encouragement
3. keep your eyes open for a family to "adopt"
Athena Hall, Area Developer for MOPS International is a military mom. Their family has been through one deployment and is about to go through another. In July/August 2010 issue of MomSense, Athena outlines how to help a mom during a deployment. Here are her suggestions:
1. Prepare and deliver a meal
2. Watch the children for a few hours every month or every week
3. Schedule a girl's night out with her
4. Don't complain about your husband to her
5. Invite them to share holidays with you...even the little ones like Halloween and 4th of July
6. Mow the lawn
7. Remember deployment lasts a long time...don't just be there in the first month
8. When he returns, celebrate and still be a friend.
Athena says it a much better and more humorous way...you really should read the whole article and read more about her and her family!
I have a renew sense of awe and compassion for these families today. I pray that I still do in a week, a month, a year. I want today to change my attitude, not just effect me for a moment.
Thank you to our soldiers. And THANK YOU to their families for the sacrifice that you have made as well!