Reaching Out to Military Families Helps

Family Day at Fort Stewart, Oct. 2012
photo by Stanley Leary

It’s been a busy month for me. Most of it related to things other than The Citadel or Army mom involvement.We are very close to the deployment date of my oldest son so staying busy is a good thing. I find I am choking up or tearing up at odd times throughout the week.

We did attend his going away party in early October and then visited Fort Stewart for the Casing of the Colors ceremony and family day. I wrote about that experience for the military blog site Off the Base.

Some fun with family at the pre-deployment party. Quite a contrast to the photo at the top of the entry.

There are so many thoughts going through my mind it is hard to decide what to write about now. So much of it is extremely personal. I am an extrovert so many times what is in my head pops out of my mouth with very little screening. In this situation, however, I am more guarded about what I share with a nameless faceless readership.

Fortunately I can channel my anxiety into projects that help not only my son and his battalion but other military families and military families in training at The Citadel.

For the senior Army ROTC cadets at The Citadel it is a time of anticipation. They received their branch notices at a meeting recently. Their parents are now researching the next steps, including what BOLC means. The training for young officers is called Basic Officer Leadership Course or BOLC and is pronounced bullock. Our son attended Armor BOLC at Ft. Benning. The courses for the various branches of service are taught at bases throughout the country. If you have a cadet at The Citadel you can resource with other military parents through the Facebook group, Military parents of The Citadel. Most likely someone there will know something about the BOLC your cadet will go to after graduation.

If you or someone you know is a cadet or graduate of The Citadel and is currently deployed, make sure The Citadel Heroes Project has their APO/FPO address. You can contact Susie Maghakian with the name and address. Her contact information is below. This group of volunteers sends care packages to deployed cadets and grads a few times a year. They rely on the families to send the addresses. They have an immediate need for personal care items, including items for female soldiers, for the boxes that will be packed November 10 and financial support to cover postage. Items received after November 10 will still be sent out to the soldiers. Make checks payable to: The Citadel Heroes Project

Please send your donations to:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 171 Moultrie Street, The Citadel Station, Charleston, SC  29409

or if you are sending items via UPS or other carrier use the physical address on campus:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 201 Richardson Ave, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409

Phone: 843-953-5815

Care packages ready to be shipped to deployed cadets and graduates of The Citadel.
There are many nonprofit organizations that support the troops throughout the year. One organization I volunteer with is the Military Families Ministry. Co-founder, Tracie Ciambotti, is also a contributor to the blog Off the Base. She wrote a book called Battles of The Heart for new Army families.
This past August I enrolled in the Level II Comedy Writing Class taught by Jeff Justice. It was just one more way for me to stay busy and positive as we face the first deployment of our oldest son. In the routine I joked about Army Moms and their cell phones. During a deployment they keep them on their person at all times. Just today I was reflecting on how our life will be the next nine months. I imagine there will be times when I tick someone off on line at the grocery store or at an event when I answer my phone at an inappropriate time. I will not apologize if this happens.
The Family Readiness Group leadership at Ft. Stewart will send the contact information soon for anyone who would like to support our battalion while they are deployed. We already know they will need hand warmers, packets of hot chocolate and instant coffee, protein foods, and baby wipes. I’ll post the address to send donations when they send it to us.
Remember, if you are the parents of a deployed soldier it is completely normal and expected to be more emotional while they are deployed. If you do not have a family member in the military, but know someone who does, remember to check in with them and ask how they would like to be supported during this time.