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Your Military Sons and Daughters

Our Community Salutes You

Our_Community_Salutes.jpgIt is that time of year…we are happy (because they made it) and sad (because they made it). Life will never be the same. Our children will be graduating from high school in just a few weeks.

Social media will be filled with pictures of our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and friends who are all graduating then headed to college, a trade school – or maybe going into the work force. For others, the choice has been made to join the military – and that is what this blog post is about.

According to a recent article in Huffington Post, only 1% of the nation serves in the military and they are true one-percenters who deserve to be honored, celebrated and commended for their choice. And let’s not forget about the families who support them. Not only is it a lifestyle choice for the graduate, it is also a lifestyle change for parents. The rules are different in the military, the fears are different, and the support can seem to be non-existent.

Also from a recent Huffington Post article…”Although most Americans celebrate our veterans when they return, as well as supporting their families while they’re deployed, many of us don’t realize the enormous sacrifice and determination it takes for a modern, young 18-year-old to decide to enlist in the first place. High school seniors are told almost from the moment they start first grade that everything they do in school is targeted toward getting into a good college.  Even though many who decide to enlist still plan to attend college, but only after their service, they face a society that extols the virtues, let alone the assumed necessity, of continuing on to college directly from high school.”

Our local chapter of Blue Star Mothers is again organizing a ceremony for our children who have made the adult choice to join the armed services. Through a national non-profit organization, Our Community Salutes, started in 2009, a local ceremony will be held on June 20, 2015 at the University of Mary Washington Dodd Auditorium.

The decision to join the military after graduation is not easy. According to the Huffington Post article, our children “often face pressure from family and friends who question their ability to find work after their service has ended. Their teachers and friends might question whether they will be ‘wasting’ their academic talents or skills. They feel guilty about worrying their parents, or they’re made to defend their decision by people who make it all about the ‘politics’ rather than about what the enlistee actually feels or wants”.

Our Community Salutes understands these pressures and feels that we should recognize the enlistees for their decisions. A wonderful ceremony has been planned to honor our local area students. There will be many honored guests – including recently retired Emcee, Marine SgtMaj Kenneth Conover (an extremely motivated speaker), The Honorable Rob Wittman and Dr. George Nixon – the oldest enlisted eteran in our area (he is hysterical!).  Last year he told all of the male enlistees, “You are never too old to have a girlfriend”! His girlfriend joined him at the ceremony – he is over 90 years old!

Join us to honor our children for their decision to join the armed services. This event will be a day to remember. As a thank you, every enlistee will receive a free meal from Virginia Barbeque after the ceremony.

Our Community Salutes – June 20, 2015 – Dodd Auditorium, University of Mary Washington – 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM.

For more information or to ask questions, please contact Nancy Kearney This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 540-752-8020.

 

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What You May Not Know

Here is something that most people don’t know: that a nationwide support group such as the Blue Star Mothers exists. Add to that the fact that there is a local group in Fredericksburg--amazing! The Blue Star Mothers Chapters are limited – mainly because it requires someone (usually several people) to step up to the plate and invest a ton of time and energy to make it happen.

That is why the Fredericksburg Chapter is so successful. We are, I believe, one of the leading chapters in the State of Virginia.  We are one of only 5 Cchapters in the State with almost 60 members and 19 affiliate members.

Red_Star_Gala.1.jpgWhat you may not know is that as a Blue Star Mother, we passionately do what we can to support each other through deployments, hardships and even through the loss of a child. A large percentage of our members do not have previous experience dealing with the military – knowing what to expect regarding deployments and especially, where they can go to find out information that they need regarding their child. The Mmilitary is all about protocol that must be followed and our “seasoned” mothers willingly share their knowledge, experience and support.

Just a few more tidbit you may not know – very soon you will see yellow ribbons on every tree in Central Park and on every lamp post in down town Fredericksburg. This is our way of saying thank you to every generation who has served our  country  and honoring them all for Memorial Day weekend.

Red_Star_Gala.jpgBut, most of all, we like to have fun! We have almost 60 members and 19 affiliates who help throughout the year. Our biggest events include our Red Gala – which was just held last month at Renato’s Restaurant. We raised almost $5,000 which will be used to help fund the care packages that will be sent out in June.  The gala was an amazing evening full of prizes, laughter and celebration. Our local motorcycle chapter even showed up in their kilts! And I heard that if you happened to be standing outside the restaurant at around 7:15 pm you heard us inside, singing the National Anthem. (I heard that there were Marines standing at attention on the sidewalk – this gives me goosebumps).

We are approaching our “busy season”. If you are interested in helping, attending a meeting or volunteering, we welcome you with open arms. Just visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org for more information. We are here to serve you!

                                                                                                                   

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Your Child Has Made the Choice

I know that it is only February but typically, by this time, our children have decided that they want to do (or think they want to do) with their lives after high school graduation.

Many will decide to join the military. Some of the reasons: job stability, health care, discipline, love of their country and because they (or their parents) think it is their best option. Of course, the GI bill is also another reason that our children join the military. The financial burden of college may be too much for some children and their parents. The military offers an alternative option to help pay for it.

What I know (and what I hear from other military moms) is that this scares the bee-geezies out of them. They are scared to have their children leave home. They are scared to have their children be put into an atmosphere that is so very different from “home." They are scared that their child will be put in harm’s way.  And, they are scared that their child will be left to “fend for themselves” and are just praying that their child makes smart decisions.

My advice….be strong and comfortable that you have done your very best for your child for the last 18 years! Making the decision to join the military is huge. It is a very important life decision. The part that can be the hardest to digest is that this may not have been your life choice for your child.

Some friendly mom advice - Enjoy the last few months of their high school career. Let them make memories that they will want to come back home to. And then let them go off to make new memories that they can share with you when they return home. Life is about memories.  Through the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg, I have learned that military moms have a few things in common:

1.       They are proud!

2.       They cry often

3.       They are strong

You will always hear a military mom praising their child. At the Blue Star Mothers meetings, we cry together and always support each other. And mostly, we are not just strong but also we are resilient.

If your child has decided to join the military after high school graduation, reach out to an awesome group of ladies who’ve “got your back!"

For more information visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org

This article was written be Linda Clevenger, 1VP and Blue Star Mother

 

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Merry Christmas Soldier

The tree is down, the lights are put away, but you’re still finding remnants of the season that remind you of the wonderful memories that were made. The holidays are special for everyone, and for those of us with military sons and daughters it can be bittersweet. Our children may be stationed across the country, overseas or deployed and we may not get to spend time with them, but when they do come home, the joy is immeasurable. 

With all the worry in the world, it’s tough when your Soldier, Airman, Marine, Sailor, or Coast Guardsman, is away. Being able to catch up, laugh, and have everything seem like “normal”, is one of the greatest gifts military families can receive during the holiday season. It’s those little moments that mean the most.

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Our Soldier returned home from his first three months in the Army and it was quite a homecoming. You don’t really appreciate being able to communicate, until you can’t. Not knowing how Liam was doing every day and waiting for that brief Sunday phone call was painful. Thoughts of all the sons and daughters deployed and how their families feel, run through my mind constantly.  

The Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg had some members who were lucky enough to have their son or daughter home with them over the holidays and the social media frenzy that ensued was wonderful! So many smiling faces, lots of memories being made, and moments of pure joy; it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. 

We often take for granted those types of times, but being part of a military family makes every moment you spend together, a moment you cherish. Hugging your child who is briefly home makes all the worry go away for a moment and the holidays are once again….Merry and Bright! 

The Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg wish you and yours a prosperous, healthy and happy New Year! 

Our next Blue Star Mothers (VA4) open meeting will be held on February 21st from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the Salem Church Library on Salem Church Road. For more information please 

contact Nancy @ 540-752-8020 or visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org

 

This article was written by Michelle Spina - Member of Fredericksburg Blue Star Mothers - Va4. The picture in this blog is Michelle's son at his homecoming. 

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Packages Received!

 Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg has received word from the front line that our packages have been received by our loved ones in the military in time for Christmas!  It is nice to have Santa arrive early for those who are deployed for the holidays.

Our last blog talked about the community coming together to collect items, box them up, and mail them to the troops.

Now, we would like to share a few of the letters that we received from the troops. This is your “tissue warning”. Tears may begin to flow as you read their words of thanks.

 Teri and Blue Star Moms Fredericksburg 

"Hey, I wanted to send you a message and tell you thanks for your care package. I would have liked to write you an actual letter, but considering the situation in Africa with the communicable diseases that are present and the amount of time it would take for mail to reach you, I thought this might be a little better. Terri, I really do appreciate your thoughts and efforts, and that of the Blue Star Mothers. I was pretty excited when Shelly told me that she had some friends who were interested in sending a care package. There are 49 soldiers from my unit here right now. We are part of a transportation unit. Most of us have been deployed over the holidays  before, but we do have some junior soldiers who are away for the first time. Believe me, they appreciated the candy and kind thoughts. I don’t know how much the media is talking about the Ebola crisis anymore, but on this end it seems like it is going pretty well. Hopefully I’ll be able to extend a thank you in person when I’m back. Thanks again, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday."

Respectfully...Cpt J. Johnson

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"Hello, I just received the package that you sent to me, I appreciate it very much, it's not often guys like us receive such great and heart touching gift as this, I thank you for your hard work and support; keep up the good job. 

P.s tell Caleb I said thank you for his letter and that I promise to take care of our country and all of its citizens to the best of my ability, I really liked the drawing it helped me relax after a long day, and to have a jolly good Christmas."

Merry_Christmas.jpg

Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg is eternally grateful for the local community and their support in sending these care packages. It is difficult to write about how your support makes me feel. There is a part of my heart that can go back 24 years and remember exactly how it felt when my husband missed Christmas. As I sit here, with tears flowing, I would like to end 2014 with a simple Thank You.

Thank you to every active-duty, retired and reservist member of the military. Thank you to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins, nieces and nephews for supporting you while you serve our country and please let the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg know how we can support you as well. 

Merry Christmas to all. 

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About Blue Star Mothers

Blue Star Mothers Fredericksburg is a community group that provides support to each other and local military families who have given their children to serve our Nation. We support every branch of the Armed Forces and it's veterans through patriotism, education and social events. We support our community and its active and deployed military through on-going service projects, including providing our servicemen and women with care packages. For more information about National Blue Star Mothers you can visit their website. To find our local chapter click here.

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The opinions and/or views expressed on this blog represent the thoughts of individual blogger and not necessarily those of Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine or any of its employees or staff.