Here’s how to help our area military families

Tue, 11/20/2007 - 5:17pm
By: Letters to the ...

To the wonderful citizens of Fayette County, I am writing once again this year to remind you of the waiting children of deployed parents.

As many of you know, I run a charity called Embracing Military Families. It was started over five years ago to brighten the lives of the children of our brave men and women serving in harm’s way in our military. As long as the war continues, we’ll be here to help our littlest heroes.

Our efforts are coordinated through a counselor, Linda Turner, at one of the elementary schools at Ft. Benning. She has formed a support group called The Deployment Club.

I asked Linda to describe the benefits: “In our deployment club meetings we do lots of activities to keep the children connected to their deployed parent. The time together also allows them the opportunity to discuss any feelings they have in relation to the deployment. We have so many kids in our weekly deployment club meetings that they consider themselves a special elite group. This connection is a positive force. They support each other with caring understanding.”

She went on to tell me about the Partner in Education soldiers who spend time with the kids while their fellow soldiers are away.

As wonderful as these efforts are, they can’t completely erase the fear and anxiety these children face on a daily basis. According to Linda, “On occasion a parent will request that I see their child individually to work on issues related to deployment. Sometimes it is hard for the waiting spouse to talk to the children about how safe their deployed parent is when they have so many concerns and fears of their own.”

And this time of year, when we all long to be close to family, it is all the more difficult for these children.

In addition to the emotional support, there is a need for financial aid as well. And that’s where we come in.

Again, Linda describes the situation: “We have families with special needs children who cannot work outside of the home. When their spouse is deployed, the donations made to Embracing Military Families helps to make up for this. We have had several births while the dad was deployed along with deaths in the family that required travel of the remaining family without the deployed spouse. The Army is getting better at recognizing the family problems related to deployments but can’t take care of everything that comes up.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Linda says, at her school alone, about 33 percent of the children have a parent deployed in a war zone. Of those, half are dealing with a second deployment. She said she even has one student with a parent who has been deployed four times.

Won’t you please join me, once again, in helping to brighten the holidays for these special children who will be spending Christmas without their mom or dad?

Monetary donations can be mailed to 202 Panstone Drive, Peachtree City, GA 30269, and donations of new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any fire station in Peachtree City.

Please feel free to call me at 770-487-0672 if you have any questions, and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cathy McMullen

Peachtree City, Ga.

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