I Am A Military Mom and Proud Of It !!!
Senior Airman Douglas. A. Weigelt has served 4 years now in the USAF (United States Air Force). He was stationed in Germany the first 2 1/2 years with a deployment in Quatar. Currently, Doug is based at MacDill AFB (air force base), and will be deploying to Ballad, Iraq in September for his second deployment specializing in Fire, Rescue and Hazardous Materials.
Unlike my friends, whose kids went off to college, my son left one month after his high school graduation to pursue his childhood dream to serve in the US Military. He signed up to serve the year before he even graduated. Doug’s motivation to join the US military included a complex mix of pride, family values, patriotism, personal challenge, travel, and service in a time of war.
As parents, our admiration and appreciation for our son, and all military soldiers has been made even stronger after visiting Lackland AFB, Spangdalhem AFB, and MacDill AFB. We wish other Americans could experience the pride and sacrifice made by our military men, women, and families.
Coping has been made easier, since another military mom in my town and I started a Military Support Group for family members of all the branches of the military. We meet for prayer, support, and care package projects. We started the program through our church by announcing a meeting time at a local coffee shop in the church bulletin and web site. Then we made flyers and dropped them in the mailboxes of homes with the blue star banner hanging in their windows. Next we contacted all the other churches in town to pass on the information.
Over the past year we have accumulated at least 20 members from all military branches as well as three veterans. We meet once a month during lunch hour at the Bay Coffee Station where we pray, share ideas, and plan projects. Last year we sent over 300 Christmas care packages to Marines who do not get packages from home. The Police Department, City Hall and local schools supported us with funds for shipping the care packages.
We also collected towels for returning soldiers in Germany who had been deployed for 16 months. Again, we brought the project to local churches and city offices. We have been overwhelmed by the caring response and generosity exhibited by many people in our town who did not know how to get involved, but wanted to support our troops.
Our Military Support group also gathered this year and participated in the Memorial Day parade. Next year, we are planning to march along side the Veterans with a flag noting that we are family of those serving. The Commander of our local VFW comes to our meetings and has issued several checks for our projects. He encouraged us to be in the parade and march along side of the Veteran’s.
I initiated something, which had never been done before at my son’s high school. We created a showcase of the Alumni currently serving in the military. A group of us complied a list of those we knew were currently serving, called their homes to verify the information, and asked for a picture for the display. We used an empty showcase in the main hallway to honor and display tour soldiers’ pictures, posting the year they graduated, and their branch of the military. We also put information in the Bay High School Alumni newsletter asking soldiers for contact information and pictures. We have heard from over twenty five alumni dating back to the 1970’s. It was so well received, that the display is going to remain. I also made a list of those classmates serving, to be published in the next BHS Alumni Newsletter. These soldiers are appreciative of the recognition.
I will not see Doug again before he leaves for Iraq and his second deployment. Last month when we hugged good-bye at the airport, only a military mom could know what I felt and thought at that time. Would my son see things that will change him forever? Will one of his buddies be injured? Will Doug be injured? Will we be the parents from our town whose son does not come home?
Ironically, our Support group thought we were meeting to support each other because of our loved ones serving—what we did not expect was to support one of our mom’s diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the month her son was deployed to Afghanistan. We were able to help her by connecting her to the Red Cross for information on how to inform her son and get him home if need be. We helped her with meals, and the rides to chemo and radiation. We have reassured her son of our care and help for his mom. It has been a blessing to all of us, as we really have become a family, not just supporting the soldiers, but the soldiers’ families at home, as well. God bless America, and our United States Armed Forces.
Bay Village, Ohio