The heart of America: The military family

We rightly praise our military men and women. They are the “tip of the spear” in defense of our country. Sadly, over the past 17 years we have seen our military commitments and deployments increase to a level not seen in recent military history.

It is not uncommon for young men and women to be deployed and redeployed to hostile fire zones at a rate of four to six (and more) deployments in their careers, which means 12 to 18 months in hot spots around the world, returning home for a year or more and then redeployment again, leaving spouses and children alone again and again to carry on and support their men and women as they protect the country.

Unfortunately, only slightly more than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military today and therefore, it may be difficult for readers to fully grasp the challenges and difficulty faced by our military families to cope with having their fathers and mothers go absent for long periods of time.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like for you, your family and friends to face the consequences of your loved ones facing the difficulties of managing your family during such long and frequent separations under dangerous conditions.

How would you deal with suddenly being faced with becoming mother and father at the same time without your partner near to help? Handling a household, taking children to events and activities, managing a budget, repairing things around the house, monitoring children’s behavior, counseling and supporting your family while dealing with the stress of worrying about your loved one in harm’s way every day, all day. These are just some of the challenges facing our military families as they live their daily lives.

While most military spouses and children deal with these realities with tenacity and courage, they also face the possibility of even more life-changing events when their loved ones do not come home.

Devastating as that would be, there is also the possibility that their loved one returns with debilitating injuries such as lost limbs, emotional distress like PTSD and other physiological issues that require constant care, rehabilitation and treatment.

These are just some of the realities faced by our military families as they serve our nation. Once again, it is the military spouse and children that must accept and cope with the potential outcomes of these life-changing events.

The reality of constant separations and deployments also result in other tragedies not known by many outside the military community. Suicides in the military and for veterans is at an all-time high, as are the incidents of family and spousal abuse, thereby adding more difficulty and challenges to their lives and families.

How these men and women of military families continue to endure such difficulties is almost too much to comprehend for members of the civilian community, yet these families do so daily and with little recognition of the circumstances they face and the dangers they endure.

So, say a prayer for military families and appreciate their sacrifice on behalf our country for they are the heart Of America.

Roger F. Casale
U.S. Army, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)
Peachtree City, Ga.