Friday, March 25, 2011

Guard deployment different this time

As our local National Guard unit readies for another
deployment overseas as part of the global
war on terror, I find myself in a different position
than during previous deployments.
As I covered the coming and going of units during
previous deployments, I have always felt somewhat
of a personal connection as I have developed friendships
with members of the unit over time.
This time, I have a personal involvement. My son,
Ryan, is a member of Bravo Battery. I should probably
say, our son Ryan, as my wife Melinda, not to mention
other family members, are beginning our first
experience with sending a loved one off to war, literally.
None of us can claim surprise that Ryan is looking
at an overseas deployment. His National Guard recruiter
was very honest and upfront with the fact
that, along with the benefits of joining the Guard, the
time would come when he would have to deploy to a
far-away land, possibly into a war zone.
Things do look different when one is a couple of
years away from an event, even one that is inevitable.
Now, as the time grows closer, I see that I cannot look
at this from a purely journalistic point of view. The
next time that I am taking photos of this unit boarding
buses to head off to training, then ultimately, to
war, it will not be just
another group of soldiers,
this time, it will
include our son.
My wife and I are extremely
proud of Ryan
and his decision to join
the National Guard. He
has a 2-year-old son,
Hayden, and his decision
to join was based,
in part, on how his service
can benefit his son.
I know that my wife is becoming more apprehensive,
by the day, on Ryan’s pending departure. I am, as
well, but am tempering my thoughts with the idea
that, while I know there is danger involved, I am
hopeful that this will also be somewhat of an adventure
for him. We pray that he, and everyone else in
his unit, will come back safe, full of stories of adventures
that they will be able to share for the rest of
their lives.
As we participate in the many activities necessary
for our soldier to deploy, I begin to see a different perspective
on how family members of all service men
and women must deal with being separated from
those they love.
Patriotism is at a high level in post 9/11 America.
We wave flags, shake hands and congratulate our
service members, as well we should. I often think that
some of this is due to a national guilt felt by many
Americans for the deplorable way that many of our
Vietnam veterans were treated on their return home.
No matter the reason, we should never forget that
our men and women in uniform stand between us and
the evil empires that would destroy us.
As we continue to honor those who serve, we were
reminded last weekend during a family briefing, that
families of service members also sacrifice a great deal
in order that husbands, wives, and children may serve
our country.
I hope that all of us can remember this as summer
approaches. Somewhere around us, there are families
dealing with a member of that family being away
from home.
In addition to thinking about care packages to send
to service members, let’s keep an eye open for a service
family who may need an extra hand mowing the
lawn, or raking leaves.
You may even consider attending a local ball game,
school play or dance recital to help cheer and applaud
a son or daughter whose family cheer section is
down one because mom or dad is 5,000 miles from
If you know, or live close, to a service family who
has a member deployed,maybe you could give them a
call occasionally to see if they need something from
the grocery, or just to see how they are getting along.
Supporting our service members takes more than
being proud of them and waving flags as they come
and go. Supporting our service members takes all of
us watching out for the well-being of our service
member’s families while they are gone.
Our soldiers, sailors and Marines have enough to
worry about as they protect America. Let’s offer them
a little piece of mind in knowing that our family will
help watch out for their family.

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