Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Monday, May 2, 2011

Musings on My Son's Deployment

During the past eight years, I have often had a computer screensaver filled with pictures of soldiers, sailors, ships, and helicopters. I also have a growing collection of military pins, stickers, hats, and shirts. I have been known to tell complete strangers about my children’s service. I am a military mother. Three of our eight children left home within a few years of each other. Jonathan chose to join the Marines, Brian served a mission, then joined the Army, and Ben worked full-time before his mission and schooling. Later, one of our sons-in-law, Wes, served in the Army, and our youngest son, Jeff, chose the Navy.

I am proud of my sons who serve in the military, even though deployments are so very stressful for all involved. When our sons have been deployed I sometimes feel alone in my concern about their safety, and I don't fully relax until they come home. During those times, prayer becomes a lifeline, as does Sunday meeting and temple attendance, along with reading the scriptures. I often feel great peace and reassurance when I need it, and I know the Lord is aware of what is happening and that He is in charge. I am so grateful for an understanding of the eternal nature of families, and the realization that life continues beyond this time on earth.

We also have supportive friends, family, and ward members who prop us up when we need it. They love our boys, and we appreciate their kind words and all the prayers offered in behalf of those serving in the military. Those prayers, including those offered in the temple, are important, and we know they are being answered. Halfway through Brian’s second deployment I found an online support group for military parents. It has been a great blessing to discuss feelings and share information with other military parents.

I hadn’t anticipated my children choosing to serve in the military, but we have watched them grow and gain strength and confidence in their abilities. We are proud of them and those they serve with. When I heard the news about bin Laden's death this morning I felt relief that an evil man who caused so much suffering has been removed, thought of those who have lost their lives because of his teachings and actions, pride in those serving in the military who sacrifice so much for us, followed by concern for the well-being of those who are serving in harm's way.

How to Support to Military Parents and Other Family Members:
• Do not tell us to get over it when they’re away, or give us a look of horror (or sympathy) when we tell you that our children have joined the military. Serving in the military is an honorable occupation. Many of them come through the experience as stronger people who are able to reach out and help others.
• Offer a listening ear and an open heart. One of my friends put it this way, “Even when time has passed, and he/she has been gone for a while, don’t think that Mom and Dad have stopped worrying. They have not.” Please ask us about our loved ones who are serving in the military, and be willing to listen without judgement even when we go into great detail.
• Offer to write to our children.

How to Support Those Serving in the Military:
• Military training and service are very demanding. Tell them how proud you are of them and their willingness to serve. Even if you don’t agree with their decision, they need to know that they are loved and supported.
• Soldiers need and want letters and care packages. E-mails and phone calls are appreciated, but they are also fleeting. The father of a soldier says, “My son told me that letters weigh next to nothing, and if he got lonely he would take out a letter to calm himself.” Sadly, some don’t receive any mail. Consider finding a serviceman or woman who needs support and write to them.
• Pray for them.
• When you see a serviceman or woman express your gratitude.

Update on the family: We welcomed a new grandson, Carson, on the 27th of April; it would have been my mother's 88th birthday.

David has had a lot of depression this winter and spring, along with some bouts of mania, but the meds do a good job at keeping him reasonably level. I'm grateful for that, but sometimes I feel that he's leveled out in keeping the disorder under control. And there certainly are days when it can be difficult to be with him. I'm glad the days are starting to warm up, which means he can get out of the house more often and work on his projects.

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