Thursday, September 20, 2012

Honoring the families of our fallen

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God's gift, that's why we call it the present. Joan Rivers

We all have a story and a past, things that have defined and shaped us into who we are in the present. I have never let my past define who I am, I embrace the good and the bad and realize that it’s because of struggles that I am the woman I am, for that I am grateful. I am grateful to be alive, I am grateful to have my wonderful family (there are a lot of us!) and I am grateful to be married to my best friend and have the daughter I always dreamed of.

I was raised in a very patriotic family however my parents were not military. My family tree is littered with Army, including Veterans from Vietnam, Korea and both World Wars so pride doesn’t begin to explain how I feel about our country and our military. When my husband and I got married my family was overjoyed to continue the family tradition so to speak... Army Stong. My husband has gone through 6 deployments in 15 years of service most recently to Iraq in 2010/2011. While he was deployed I spent the days knowing the risks we were accepting and that injury or the sacrifice was worth it for the freedom’s of our country.

I have spent majority of my life dedicated to supporting our military in various ways from collecting donations for the VFW Memorial Day Poppy’s to assisting with family readiness because I know the sacrifices that we make as the family of a service member. In 2007 a classmate from High School was killed in Iraq, the effect this loss had on his family and our community was profound. Thinking about his mother never seeing him again but knowing he was killed doing what he loved. Then as a mother the thought hit me about the number of children losing their parent in battle or on the homefront, many so young they didn’t understand where their parent was or why they weren’t coming back. That’s when my focus became the families of our fallen, it's estimated that at least half of our service members killed in action had a spouse and/or children which equals more than 3500 families missing a husband or wife, mother or father. This estimate doesn't include the families who's service member committed suicide due to injury or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Families that experienced the dreaded knock at the door telling them that their hero wouldn’t be coming home.

I have been a very active Board Member and Spokesperson for the Got Your Back Network for the past 4 years. An organization started by Navy Dr Andy Baldwin to honor his fallen friends has become a home for so many families of the fallen. Between fundraising, event planning or just hanging out with these families has been indescribable and created some of my most cherished friendships. There is not a moment during the day that I am not in some way connected to one or more of my fellow military wives, because once you are a military wife your are ALWAYS a military wife. My promise to them will always be love, respect, commitment, family and honor.

I believe that you wear your true crown in your heart and not atop your head. The crown in my heart and the one on my head are dedicated to the families of our fallen heroes, families that have become heroes and an inspiration to us all.

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