Grieving in Community

The Georgia Fallen Firefighters Foundation caisson leaves Salem Baptist Church after the funeral for McDonough and Roswell Firefighter John Kevin Cash.
Photo by Stanley Leary

We recently experienced a line of duty death in our fire department. An experience unlike any I have lived through as a chaplain.

The fire department is a very close knit community often referred to as family. Not only do firefighters work together but every three days they live with their co-workers in the fire house for 24 hours. Firefighters work together, but they share meals, sleep under the same roof and share many of the same experiences.

When a member of the fire family dies the ripple effects are numerous. The spouses and partners of the firefighters may not know the deceased, but they may feel that they do through the stories they’ve heard. Older children and relatives of a firefighter may also feel the grief and uneasiness too. They fear on some level this could some day be their reality. It is a dynamic may people go through during a loss in their community circles.

In a time of grief and mourning it is important not to brush off uneasy feelings. Talk about your fallen friend. Spend time with your family and friends. Let them know how much they mean to you when you are together. Reach out to family and friends who may not be in your area. This will look different for each person. Some are great with words, others are great with acts of kindness, and still others “do” for others in small ways or participate in activities like playing a sport, hiking, fishing, hunting or other past time.

In our public safety department we have a joint peer support program. Members of public safety , police, fire and 911 communications can reach out to trained peer support team members to express their concerns and talk them through. Most public safety departments have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with trained counselors.

It is important to feel emotions when you have them instead of pushing them aside. If we suppress our feelings and emotions they can rear their head at times we least expect it.

I learned this through my own early grieving process over my high school friend. We were 20 years old when she was in an in air plane collision in her college town. I was with her parents when they received the news. I returned to my summer job at my college in another state after the funeral. No one there knew what I had been through and at first I didn’t talk about it. One night while watching a TV show with friends a character on the show died. It resonated with me and I cried for over an hour. Crying is completely normal after losing a friend, but my college friend thought my reaction was a bit extreme for TV character, which it was. After that night I began to tell my college friends what happened. I still grieved the loss of my friend, but sharing my pain with trusted friends helped to move through that awful time.

If you find you are struggling after a loss there are several places to turn. Your friends and family, a clergy person, a chaplain, a counselor, are all resources available to you.

For some it may be too big a step to contact and meet with a therapist. There are online support networks as well. Websites like Robert Neimeyer’s After Talk and the resources listed on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation are great places to start.

Welcome to my updated site

Since 2011 I have maintained a blog. At first the entries dealt with topics of interest to parents of cadets at The Citadel, then they were my reflections as the mom of an Army officer. With this entry the focus is changing to reflections and essays of interest to first responders and others who, in the course of their work, are exposed to traumatic events.

I am entering my 4th year as the Chaplain for the Roswell (GA) Fire Department. It is a consulting position, but one I feel particularly called to. My study of traumatic stress began in the late 1990′ while I was a master of divinity student at Columbia Theological Seminary. While taking pastoral care classes learning about self-care for pastors, I realized my journalist friends could use the same advice.

My early professional career was spent in the press rooms/boxes of college sports. I worked in sports information which is the public relations office for college athletics. At the various games I’d hear stories, mainly from the photographers and videographers, about scenes they had covered before arriving to the game. Scenes that involved violence and sometimes death. A videographer for a local television station told me a stat that stayed with me. When the lists of most dangerous careers are published photographers and videographers are toward the top of the list. To do their jobs well they have to get close to the event. This fact stayed with me a propelled me on a course that gave me a purpose, supporting people who in the course of their work are exposed to traumatic experiences.

Since 2000 I have studied traumatic stress, attended several meetings of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, and The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma where I met world renown experts in the field whom I now consider mentors and friends. You can read more about my background and training on my LinkedIn profile.

In the months and years to come I hope this site will be a source of information and support to first responders of all types. If you’d like to follow the blog, please submit your email through the link on this page. Please share any entries you find helpful.

If you began to follow my blog for information on The Citadel and you no longer want to follow the blog you can unsubscribe from the notices through the email notice you receive.

Cadet Packing List

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants posted in this entry may be an affiliate link which means that I may receive a commission from any purchases made using the affiliate link. This is at no additional cost to you.

Each year the school posts a list of items that incoming cadets must bring. The list is published to the school web site and available in late May or June.

The official list for 2018 is now posted. See pages 6-7 and 13 – 16 of the Success Packet

Be sure to read all pages and links on the Matriculation Headquarters page

Always call the Commandant’s Office with questions about what to bring if it isn’t on the list: (843) 953-3020

PLEASE NOTE: In the past the Citadel Family Association posted a “Nice to Have List” there is NO list this year. The commandant’s office felt knobs reported with too many items. in the past. Just purchase what is on the Success Packet list.

Parents of incoming knobs in the Class of 2022 can join the Facebook group for 2022 parents to read other tips for new families. The group is for parents only. Extended family members can follow the public Facebook groups posted by the school.

The required items for 2018 are list below. I’ve added notes about the items in Blue. This advice is a result of talking to parents and cadets and just suggestions. You may find other brands and suppliers for the items on the list. The items listed and linked are just a suggestions.

Links are provided to items as an aid to help you see what types of items you can purchase. You can purchase these items through these underlined links or your preferred merchant.

You are sending your student to a military college with a strong leadership program. Since most students have to rely on their parents for financial support, it naturally follows that many parents are involved with the process.

When deciding what to purchase, is it best to ask your son or daughter what they want to purchase. The student is the one who will have to live with the decisions on the type items they bring. Throughout the first year the hardest thing for most parents of cadets to get used to is having their son or daughter make the decisions.

Many families find Amazon Prime for students is a great way for cadets to order what they need/want or to send items to your cadet.  Prime also gives access to streaming movies and video.

One pair of conservative style pajamas (optional) –

Most cadets sleep in their PT clothes or school sweat shirt and pants. Be sure to ask your student what they want to bring.

Here are a couple types that can be worn – there are many others:

Men’s X-Temp Short SleeveMen’s woven pajamasWomen’s shorts PJ’sWomen’s Pajama’s

Twelve white, cotton, crew-neck tee shirts

The cadets like to wear the t-shirts on the snug side so they will not bunch up under their uniform shirts. 

Men’s crew neck t-shirts

Twelve pairs of white cotton underwear – briefs, or boxer briefs (male)

Six white briefs will be folded and kept in their inspection drawer. Many cadets prefer to wear boxer briefs. The ones they wear do not have to be white but should be a solid color, like blue, it is always safe to start off with the white.

White men’s briefWhite Men’s Boxer briefs

Twelve pairs of white cotton panties (female) – NO thongs

Try to find breathable wicking fabric.

Women’s white briefs

One pair of “long johns”

These are worn with the wool uniform they will get in November.

Men’s Long UnderwearWomen’s Long Underwear

Twelve pairs of black crew length socks – cotton socks are recommended. [Experience has proven that socks made of synthetic material contribute to blistering and in some cases secondary infections.]

Technology has changed and many finding socks with wicking material help keep their feet dry. Some military and law enforcement supply stores also carry good socks. Preventing blisters is the biggest concern.

Hane’s Men’s X-Temp Comfort Cool Vent Socks;  Gold Toe Men’s Cotton Crew Athletic Socks;  Thorlo Wx Thick  Padded Walking Crew Socks

Twelve pairs of plain white cotton athletic ankle socks (Socks must be void of visible logos or color, and must cover the protruding ankle bone. Low cut quarter socks are permitted.)

Technology has improved and many cadets prefer socks with a wicking fabric to keep the feet dry and to help prevent blisters.

Hane’s Women’s Cool and Dry Ankle socksWynford Men/Women’s Athletic Socks

One bathing suit, solid black or navy blue (female: conservative one piece)

They don’t wear them often but at the end of the first week they do get to go swimming. There is a swimming test at some point as well. Many families have found suits at Target, Lands End and other retailers.

Black Men’s Swim TrunksBlack Women’s Swim Suit

One pair of shower shoes (black)

There are many options for black shower shoes. I’m listing just two here.

Men’s shower shoeWomen’s Shower shoe

Six white, cotton towels

Don’t spend too much money on the towels. Cadets are very hard on them and they may end up being used to clean too.

White Bath Towels

Six washcloths

Just like the towels don’t get expensive ones. Shop for bargain towels

White wash clothes

One standard sized pillow

A good pillow is one of the very few luxuries a first year cadet is allowed. There are many choices.

Select the one your student likes best.

Four white pillow cases

You can find them at most stores.

White Standard Pillow Cases

Four white, non-fitted sheets for a single bed

Cadets make their beds up for inspection then sleep on top of the made bed. Sheets are often used to make banners. For these reasons find the cheapest flat sheets you can find.

White flat sheets

Twelve white handkerchiefs

Get the least expensive ones you can find.

White Handkercheifs

Toilet articles

Pack their favorite toiletries, liquid body soap is a good option, shampoo, shaving kit, deodorant, etc.

A wide variety are offered on Amazon

One pair of good running shoes in a subdued color such as white, navy, or black (may have contrasting trim)

It is best to purchase the type and brand shoe that fits their foot in the least conspicuous color you can find.

Once your student finds a shoe that fits you can shop for a good price here.

Three pairs of black bike shorts (cotton spandex) for optional wear with physical training uniform

Compression shorts are what most cadets bring.

XGO Compression Shorts

One iron with ironing board (board can be full size or travel size)

A decent inexpensive steam iron will do. The cadet are rough on most items no need to spend a lot on an iron.

Black and Decker

Labeling clothes: As a time saving measure, though not mandatory, it would be helpful to write your last name and first two initials in your clothing using a permanent marker. The location of the name should be inconspicuous when the garment is worn (e.g., bottom of each sock, rear waistband of underwear, and the front shirt tail of t-shirts).

Some students find the stamp works well, others like iron on labels or sharpie

NOTE: Cleaning supplies are not listed, but when I asked the parent liaison on campus he said the commandant’s office said limited basic supplies can be brought on matriculation day. Pinesol, Clorox wipes, Comet, Swiffer wipes, Tide pen, Window cleaner, Febreeze are some basic supplies.

Basic school supplies like notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, etc. can be brought.

Shoes and Boots

For questions about the shoes and boots carried on campus contact the Cadet Store at 843-953-5166

Two [2] pairs of military style, plain toe, smooth leather, black oxford shoes with rubber heels. You will not be permitted to wear shoes that fail to meet these criteria. Shoes made of patent leather or poromeric material are not authorized.

Shoes

From page 15 of the Success Packet on the specs for shoes:

“MILITARY STYLE BLACK OXFORD, PLAIN TOE, PLAIN HEEL (no additional stitching on the heel), SMOOTH LEATHER, RUBBER HEEL AND SOLE HIGH GLOSS, POROMERIC, OR CORFAM SHOES ARE NOT PERMITTED FOR WEAR” “GO TO THE BATES FOOTWEAR WEB SITE, CLICK ON SEARCH PRODUCT ENTER STYLE NUMBER, E00932 FOR MALES, E00752 FOR FEMALES”

Bates E00932 on Amazon ;  On the Bates website

Bates E00752 on Amazon; On the Bates website

Some cadets like the Florsheim Lexington plain toe black oxford in polishable leather

You can find them online and at Kassis Bros in Charleston. They deliver to campus too.

Boots

“GO TO THE US PATRIOT TACTICAL WEBSITE SEARCH ENTER TR350 MEN’S 8” TACTICAL RESEARCH DESERT TAN COLORED BOOTS ARE THE ONLY AUTHORIZED COLOR. NO ZIPPERS”

 US Patriot Technical, Belleville Boots, style TR350

It is also available through AmazonThe approved Bates boots in Desert Tan are also on Amazon

This entry will be updated as new information becomes available like this note from June 13, 2017:From the Commandant’s office:The Admissions Office was working on an Addendum to address our concerns.Cleaning supplies-yes but in limited amounts- no bulk suppliesShoe polish/brass polish- yes but will be in box issued during first week-can send later for sureToiletries (whatever necessary for hygiene, including razors and nail clippers)-yesMedications-yesBug spray, sunscreen-yesT-pins, shirt stays- yes, but also in box provided- can send more laterExtra socks, t-shirts, underwear- yes but it all has to fit. Extras can be stored in warehouse in the required boxes.No -Sleeping bag/alternative bedding (to keep bunks in inspection state)Also, the box provided to cadets contains soap, brass and shoe polish, reflector belt, cuff links, a lock, and other items they will need.Helpful books and products: (The price is not $60. Click on the link for the much lower actual price)

Matriculation Day tips for the Parents of the Class of 2022

Class of 2021 knobs line up to “meet” the 1Sgt

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

NOTE: The Gathering Friday evening is at 5:30pm in the chapel. A previous schedule said it was at 5:00.

August 11, the Class of 2022 reports for Matriculation Day. The Parent page of The Citadel website has detailed information for families. I HIGHLY recommend you read the page and bookmark it for the weekend. Parents of incoming freshman knobs should take time and read all the links on the Freshman Parents page.

Citadel Family Association Blue Shirt volunteers help unload cars and carry items to the rooms.

The weather in Charleston in August is hot and very humid. Watch the weather forecast and prepare for the potential of rain. As of this writing (Saturday August 4) rain is in the forecast.

Since the cadets can no longer have plastic storage bins in their rooms we’ve been recommending that the knobs pack in disposable boxes and bags so they do not have to worry about storage of suitcases after their families have dropped them off. Since rain is likely, bring some large trash bags to protect the boxes from the rain Saturday morning. The Citadel Family Association “Blue Shirt Army” volunteers will help you unload your car and carry everything into the barracks. Since most knobs are housed on the 4th division (floor) of the barracks be sure to pack each container light enough for one person to carry each container.

A member of the Class of 2021 signs in at the 1Sgt table

A few more tips and reminders as  you prepare for Matriculation Day:

  • See this link for official information about Matriculation DayBy now the soon-to-be knobs, and their parents, should be checking the Matriculation Headquarters page each week for updates. Read EVERY link on the page and print out the schedule and traffic diagram in addition to the forms that must be turned in that morning.
    • If you will be in town the evening of August 11 make reservations for the 2022 parent BBQ HERE.
    • Put your knob’s name in the People Search window to find their mailing address.  Send letters to arrive the first week. Wait to send boxes until after the first week.  See this link for how to address mail to a cadet. DO NOT use nicknames.
    • Do attend “The Gathering” in the chapel Friday at 5:00 to hear about the various religious and fellowship groups on campus.
    • The knob should bring their wallet with state issued ID, like a driver’s license. It helps to have a little money, $20 or so with them in case they have an opportunity to buy snacks. Some years they have the chance to buy pizza as a fundraiser at the end of Challenge week.
    • The knob should wear a plain shirt (tucked in!), shorts, a belt if the shorts have belt loops, white ankle socks, and their athletic shoes. If they already have the white ankle socks and athletic shoes on they won’t have to search for them as soon as they have to change.
    • Drive to campus from your hotel the day before so you will know how to get to the Holliday Alumni Center. (See Traffic Diagram here and print it out for easy reference later) Getting lost Saturday morning can really add to the stress of the knob. (Ask me how I know)
    • Be sure you have a full tank of gas. You wait in your car in a long line Saturday morning. You won’t want to be the family that ran out of gas before you report.
    • They begin to process the line at 7:00am. The line begins to form before that time. It is best to report early and not wait until the last minute.
    • Say your real goodbye’s before you leave the hotel or your home. Once you arrive on campus things move quickly and the knob’s time will not be their own.
    • The knobs turn in their cell phones when they go into the barracks. They should be sure to have them fully charged and turn them off before they walk in. They won’t get them back for at least a week. Many knobs end up having to charge their phones before they can make their first call home.
    • Arrive on the early side. The line starts around 6:30am. Check-in begins at 7:00 am. It will be hot. Arriving early means it will be a chilly 85-90 versus 90-100.
    • Once you get to the barracks the Citadel Family Association volunteers will be there to help unload your car and let you know where to move your car. They have blue shirts on and all of them have been in your shoes.
    • Parents and family can go into the barracks, but you do not unpack your student.
    • Do take a photo behind closed doors, you’ll be glad you have that first day of knob year photo later. Do not make a fuss over your knob at all on campus that day.
    • Once the boxes are unloaded the knob reports in on their own. (With their FERPA form) Parents must wait with the boxes.
    • Once the knob comes out you’ll do what he or she tells you to do. How things happen from here can vary by company and each year the process is fine tuned based on the current cadet leadership.
    • Parents and family members SHOULD NOT approach the 1SGT table in the barracks in front of the company letter. Ask the CFA volunteers any question you’d like, but the uniformed cadets at the table are their to process the knobs.
    • All families must be out of the barracks by 10am. Many families leave earlier because their son or daughter is ready to start their process .
    • There is an information fair in the McAlister Fieldhouse. It is a great time to get your questions answered and meet people from various departments. The Fieldhouse is air-conditioned and there are restrooms, refreshments and water fountains.
    • The President, Commandant and the Citadel Family Association chair address parents after the information fair. It is a great place to visit to get information and cool off.

    FAQ

    • Your knob will find out their company the morning of Matriculation.
    • Legacy and Band Company knobs still must go through the check in process at the Holliday Alumni Center. It is how they keep track of who has reported.
    • Extended family members can come with you, but you should be aware there is a lot of standing and waiting around. Ask your son or daughter who they want to drop them off. One good option is to have everyone stay at the hotel and only a few go to campus that morning. No knob wants to call extra attention to themselves that day.
    • If you have young children, bring quiet toys, snacks and water.
    • If you have older family members or family with disabilities that make standing difficult, bring a folding chair.
    • The presentation in the Fieldhouse should be over by 11:45 the administration will be available to answer questions afterward.
    • You can attend Sunday worship (Christian students) at 9:00 am but you will not interact with your son or daughter. They are divided into groups for worship, Protestant, Catholic, Anglican.
    • The oath ceremony takes place Monday evening on Summerall Field. The school has live streamed it in the past. It is a short, less than 15 minute, ceremony. (See a previous years video here) Watch the school webpage and Facebook page for details. If you are in town you can attend. You will not interact with your son or daughter and may not be able to tell which knob is yours since they will be dressed alike and have no hair, or little hair in the case of the women knobs.
    • If you need to reach your knob’s company or battalion TAC officer after you leave the campus see this directory.
    • The Ombudsperson’s are a confidential resource for cadets, faculty staff and parents too.
    • The Parents resource page is very helpful throughout the year. Email parents@citadel.edu with your questions.

    NOTE: Parents of the Class of 2022, if you haven’t already, join the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2022. Go to the page request to join, then answer the 3 screening questions to let me know you are the parent of a knob. Email me with any questions. PLEASE note the group is for parents of knobs only. Please let your extended family members know they will not be approved to join the group.

    Once a knob checks in with the 1Sgt they are instructed to pick up their issued items

    Be sure you have made hotel reservations.

Previous posts about Matriculation Day:

The Citadel: A visual of the first view days

7 Days and Wake Up

Checking in at Holliday Alumni Center
Matriculation morning, 2015

We are one week away from the day Class of 2021 report to The Citadel on their Matriculation Day. Hopefully by now the incoming knobs have read the Matriculation Headquarters page, and completed the necessary tasks. Parents of the Class of 2021 should be aware of everything on the headquarters page, but should really read through everything on the Freshman Parent section of the school web site.

A mailing with helpful information for parents from the Citadel Family Association (CFA) will arrive in the mail soon. The CFA is made up of current parents who volunteer their time to support new families. Once your student learns their company you’ll have a company and battalion rep to support you. You can also find their contact information on the CFA web site.

Parents talk to the “Blue Shirt” volunteer as they wait with the boxes as their knob reports to the battalion.

I moderate a Facebook group called The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2021. We have a record number of parents in the group for this time of year. Membership is already over 630. The group is only for parents and guardians of knobs. Please let your extended family and friends know they cannot join the group, but they can follow the public pages the school runs to keep up with what is happening on campus.

This is the time of year I advise new parents to step away from the computer and spend time with their family. It can be a stressful time for many families, so much so that I end up writing a blog post about letting go each year around this time. I’ll add a few links at the end of this entry.

I do understand how scary it can feel to send a child to The Citadel, or any military college. The key to remember is your student has chosen this type of college experience. If this is what they really want to do they have the skills necessary to be successful.

Trust me, when my son went to The Citadel I was extremely nervous. What I learned that first year is that I didn’t have to understand why they do things the way they do. I was not a cadet my son was. He was the one that had to deal with the 4th Class system. To this day I can’t say I totally understand the “why” around much of the process, but I have come to appreciate the outcomes. The Citadel was exactly where my son, and most cadets who choose to take on the challenge, were supposed to be.

If you are a parent worried about this first year, you aren’t alone. A few words of advice. Try not to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet, because most of the things you worry about will never happen. If you feel you need to speak to someone on campus the Parent liaison is one place to start: parents@citadel.edu The company and battalion TAC officers and the Ombudspersons are also great resources for parents.

If you find you are nervous and obsessing over the parent’s Facebook page each day, walk away from the page for a while. Most likely by now your student has what they need to report on the 12th. Once you have read the Matriculation Headquarters , the Freshman Parent information page and the Citadel Family Association page you are set for next week. Read my previous post with matriculation day tips next week before you get to Charleston for a review.

I have walked your path as have scores of other families. We understand your fears, but also know how great the rewards are for those who stay and wear The Ring.

If you will be in Charleston the night of August 12, sign up for the 2021 Family BBQ dinner. It is a great way to meet other families.

On a personal note. . . this year our youngest is a college freshman. She moved into her dorm at Columbus State University yesterday. It was a completely different experience from her older brother’s matriculation day in 2007. We are slowly adjusting to our new normal as empty nesters while still missing our girl.

Blog posts about my son’s knob year and what I learned:

The Making of a Military Mom

Mom Readies for Son’s Military College

The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents

How The Citadel “Ya-Yas” Came to Be

Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel

A few tips about knob year for parents:

Knob Year Notes for Parents

Posts about letting go:

Uniformity, Lists, and Letting Go

Citadel Parents: Let it Go!

Transitions and Letting Go

Matriculation Day: The Hardest Part for Parents is Letting Go

Preparing for Knob Year – Parents Edition

Advantages of being the Parent of a Citadel Cadet

Our family Matriculation Day morning at the hotel, 2007

Taylor, Chelle, and Nelson (Bravo, 11) May 2017

 

 

Parents Weekend, 2007

Chelle in her new dorm room. August 3, 2017

Preparing for The Citadel – Parent Edition

The knobs check in with the company’s 1st Sergeant and turn in their phones. Remember to turn them off so they won’t be dead when they are returned in a week.

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

Each year about this time in the Facebook group for new parents some parents post that they are really stressed about the preparation. I try to be as caring as  can be and encourage these parents to begin to let go of the process and encourage their student to do the prep work necessary.

Since tuition is now really high, especially for out of state students, I understand the need for families to monitor expenses and to be concerned with the purchases needed to report to The Citadel.

For many alumni who tell tales of their parents dumping them at the gates and driving off on matriculation day these parental concerns confuse them. Sending a student to The Citadel today is a major investment. Out of state tuition is over $40,000 a year. Most families must watch their expense and it is a team effort to meet the expenses.

With that background I offer a few tips for new parents:

The Citadel is a leadership college. That means in addition to their academic major they will be learning leadership skills. Parents need to learn to step back and let their student take charge of their process. This includes getting everything gathered to report on Matriculation Day. Once they report you will not have any control of how your student handles their training. Start practicing letting go now.

The new parent Facebook groups help with basic questions and support. Do not spend your time trying to get everything “just right.” Each cadet and family are different there is not one right way to get ready for Matriculation Day. The future knob must prepare physically and mentally for the big day. They need items on the Success Packet list and should break in their shoes. How those things come together with vary with each person.

Last year the father of a knob sent me a video clip from Finding Nemo. In the clip a small sea turtle, Squirt, gets thrown out of the current. Nemo’s dad, a clown fish named Marlin panics and tries to go after Squirt. Marlin is stopped by Squirt’s laid back dad, Crush, who says, “Kill the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.” As a parent be like Crush, not Marlin. Do not try to intervene with your knobs experience. You’ll be amazed at what they can do “flying solo.”

The staff and cadet cadre have a strong tradition of training young students and molding them into strong cadets. Allow the process to work. If at any time you have concerns or questions, contact the parent liaison, Capt. Taylor Skardon, parents@citadel.edu. or one of the three Ombudspersons.

Cadre members lead knobs from the Cadet Store back to their company. August 2015

Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.

A 2019 knob reports to his company on Matriculation Day.

A Few Tips for Parents on Graduation Weekend

DISMISSED!!! photo by Stanley Leary

Graduation is a few days away. The weather is looking iffy for Friday, but the forecast changes daily. I’ve compiled a few tips for parents as they head to Charleston for this huge milestone celebration.

Have fun

Be sure you have your camera battery charged up. Bring extra memory cards/batteries.

Be prepared for rain with an umbrella and water repellant jacket or coat. Wear rain boots if you have them since it gets muddy with the rain.

Remember if it rains it WILL NOT dampen the spirits of the graduates (it poured for my son’s long gray line. We all had a blast.)

Have Fun

When taking photos have one person in your party take a photo from one end of Summerall Field to get a good shot of the grads the complete length of the field.

The graduates go from being thrilled to be graduating to realizing that after Saturday the friends that have become family will be spread throughout the country and the globe. It helps to understand that their emotions can be all over the place this week.

Enjoy yourself

Before graduation on Saturday ask your senior where they will be sitting in relationship to the front dais (stage). They line up in alpha order, not by company, for graduation.

Decide where you will meet after graduation BEFORE graduation. Some meet on the floor of the field house other prefer to meet up outside. Some want to get photos with their friends at a specific place. Having a short conversation ahead of time can expedite the meet up after graduation is over.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the parents of 2017 and hope to see many of you Friday and Saturday.

Welcome to My New Blog Site

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

Since 2010 when my son was  cadet at The Citadel I’ve contributed to a blog, first it was the military blog, Off the Base, then I posted my own blog on WordPress, Dorie Griggs. This effort led to beginning Facebook groups for parents of new cadets. There are now groups for the parents of cadets, some grads, in the classes of 2016 – 2021 as well as the group, Military Parents of The Citadel, for parents of cadets and grads on military contracts.

I could not have predicted in 2010 that the blog would still be active, or that I’d still be involved with a school my son graduated from in 2011. As I outlined in the blog post, The Story of my Untraditional Calling, this effort has evolved from a call I have felt to be a supportive presence to people.

Together the groups I started and/or moderate include just under 2,500 members. It is a rewarding experience to help ease the anxiety of new parents. It is also a very time consuming venture. Between moderating the Facebook groups to answering private messages on an average day I interact with between 10 – 30 people daily about something cadet related. This has all been done on my own time at my own expense.

A few very thoughtful and supportive parents in the past couple of years have sent monetary gifts to help me make occasional trips to Charleston to attend events. Some have offered their homes so I don’t incur hotel charges. I am so grateful for their support.

I’ve now moved my blog to this platform to make it possible to add affiliate links and to encourage contributions to my effort to support parents. These links will make it possible for me to derive a small bit of income while providing helpful information to parents. Using the links will help me to continue to help parents and does not cost the user any additional money.

This is a big step for me and uncharted territory. With our own daughter graduating high school in May and heading off to college, I need to find ways to help pay tuition.

As always I welcome your feed back. Thank  you for visiting.

The Citadel Foundation Launches the 2017 Senior Campaign

This past week The Citadel Foundation (TCF) launched a campaign for seniors to give back $20.17. The goal is to raise $2,017 with 100% participation. Parents can also donate in honor of their cadet as well! In addition, the TCF will be adding a gift match by a generous donor in the near future but that won’t happen until next week.
 
It would be amazing to announce that this is the first time in history The Citadel Foundation has had a current cadet class at 100% participation! The link to the page is:
The members of the Cadet Philanthropy Council choose their priorities which are The Citadel Fund, Academic Endowment, Cadet Activities, and the Cadet Relief Fund.

Corps Day and Recognition Day Tips

***2/10/2019 Please note: I am no longer updating the blog posts for Citadel parents. See the official school website for the most up to date information***

UPDATED 03/16/2017

The Citadel is combining two big events for cadets the weekend of March 17 – 19, Corps Day and Recognition Day. The school website mentions three events which includes the Leadership Symposium. Since most families who come to town do so to see the Summerall Guards ceremony on Saturday morning, and this year for Recognition Day, I’ll focus on those two events.

The schedules are available online for the weekend. For a more detailed schedule for activities parents will want to attend, go to the parents page of the school website and read through the Corps and Recognition Day 2017 page.

Rifle exchange
the 2015 Bond Volunteers prepare to take their rifles and become the 2015 Summerall Guards.

Tips for parents of Bond Volunteers and Summerall Guards:

The crowd begins to form on the parade field about 30 minutes before the scheduled ceremony. The schedule lists the time as 8:45 – 9:45am. So arriving  by 8:15am to find your preferred spot along the roped off area is a good idea.

Be sure to ask your cadet where they will be as they march onto the field to know if you should be on the side closest to the barracks or the other side closer to Chapel side of the field. For instance my son was the 5th squad back on the end closest to the barracks side of the field. We stood at the roped off area closest to the 2nd battalion across the walk way from where General and Mrs. Rosa sit for parades. (Of course cadets and grads will refer to theses areas and line up for the Summerall Guards by their proper terms. Since I’m a mom and not a grad I’ve developed my own way to describe the areas to help other parents know where to stand.)

Another must is insect repellant for the morning. The entire ceremony only lasts about 20 minutes or so but after it is over you’ll want to snap photos with your cadet. It is a bit of a scramble after it ends. Ask your cadet the best way to find them after the ceremony ends. Many of them will be talking with the Summerall Guard whose rifle they now carry and receiving their Summerall Guard patch.

Most years they’ve had a luncheon for the Summerall Guards after the parade. It is at the luncheon where we purchased out Summerall Guards parent t-shirt. It is a fundraiser for them to help with expenses. Check with your cadet for the plans for this year.

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Members of the Class of 2019 begin their march to Marion Square on Recognition Day for the Class of 2019.

Tips for parents of the Class of 2020:

The schedule this year is completely different from previous years since Recognition Day has been moved from April to the same weekend as Corps Day. Stories from parents of upperclass cadets of what they did on Recognition Day won’t really apply to your experience this year.

This weekend is not like Parents Weekend where the emphasis is on spending time together. The Recognition Day part of the weekend is really about the Class of 2020 and their time together, parents while welcome to watch are not the focus. If you are planning to be in town, remember you may not see your cadet Friday afternoon and evening. They have meetings and will need to get their rooms in inspection order for the open barracks Saturday morning. If they do have time off to see you for dinner consider it a bonus visit.

Saturday will be jam-packed with activities. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the day. Look over the schedule to see just how busy you’ll be and make your plans for lunch based on your family.

The barracks open at 8:00am. Check with your son or daughter to see if they want any food brought to them. They will have a VERY strenuous workout after the parade so they may not want anything too heavy.

The Rifle Legion and the Summerall Guards will perform on the parade field that morning. Check with your cadet to see if they will be attending both or either of those events. My son’s senior mentor was a Summerall Guard so he wanted to see that ceremony.

After the Summerall Guards exchange rifles the Corps of Cadets must prepare for the 10:00 parade. This would be a good time to have a light snack. The Canteen will be open but to avoid lines you may want to pack your own snacks or lunch. You’ll also have time after the parade and before the Gauntlet begins to grab something to eat or sit in the reception room in Mark Clark Hall between events.

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Members of the Class of 2019 participate in the gauntlet as upperclass cadets guide the activities.

The Gauntlet begins at 11:30. It is a series of physical challenges the 4th Class cadets go through together by company. They will be either on the parade field or the WLI field. Some years the school posts a map. I haven’t seen it posted yet. To get an idea of how Recognition Day was handled in the past I’ve found the PowerPoint from 2015 on the website.

The past several years after the gauntlet is over and the 4th class cadets are in the barracks and hear the announcement “The 4th Class System is no longer in effect.” The newly recognized cadets would come out to give a hug to their family members. The timing is very tight this year and the cadets may not have time to come out. The training schedule has the cookout in the barracks beginning at 1320 and the hygiene time to get ready for the retaking of the oath on the parade ground at 3:00. The March is on the schedule for 1500.

If you haven’t ordered a meal through the school (the ordering time frame has past), pack a lunch or eat in the Canteen the school.

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General Rosa and Provost Dr. Connie Book visit with class of 2019 family members at a lunch held last year after the gauntlet. This year boxed lunches will be available to purchase.

Cadets who saved an overnight and followed the protocol can take one Saturday night. Most of the cadets are too exhausted to want to do much Saturday night. If you want to go out for a nice meal Sunday is the better day to do that.

I’ll be helping my youngest daughter at her high school musical that weekend so I’ll have to miss the excitement. I look forward to seeing everyone’s photos. Next year I’ll have my own college freshman, just not a knob at The Citadel.

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L-R Provost, Dr. Connie Book, Dorie Griggs, Mrs. Donna Rosa, General John Rosa