And in the spirit of the Memorial Day weekend upon us, I'd like to share these things that I learned, being the child of a soldier:
- Home is wherever your family is. We moved a lot when I was growing up. Sometimes Daddy was gone for months - even a year or more at a time. We have a picture somewhere of two-year-old me kissing his picture goodnight while he was in Viet Nam. Even though we didn't put down roots until I was an older kid, we all knew that home meant family, and not necessarily the town you're currently living in.
- Some scars don't show. I only know bits and pieces about my Dad's time in Viet Nam, and that's because he only talks about it sparsely. I'm okay with that, because that's up to him to share or not share. He came home in one piece, but that doesn't mean he didn't leave something behind.
- The spouses and kids of soldiers need your support and thanks, too. My Mom trotted us around the globe and moved us into new housing and signed us up for school and took us to doctor appointments and sometimes, she did it all without a lick of help. Sometimes, she had the support of a wonderful network of other military spouses who shored her up. Nobody gives those families the credit they deserve.
- You should thank a soldier when you get the opportunity. My kids were taught this from a very young age. Now when we're out, it's just a habit. We see a uniform (or any other military identifier), we say thank you. I've gotten into some incredible conversations this way with veterans who have amazing stories, and my kids have experienced them, too.
Growing up with Dad (and the rest of us) being shipped all over the world wasn't easy. Today, there are many veterans today who are far from home, or worse, without a home. Here are some ways you can help them and their families: