Support Is All Around You

Support. I thought this was an adjective to which Playtex’s “living bra” had exclusive rights until I was a Navy family member with a deployed active duty member? In other words, my husband was at sea. We have all learned, or are learning, that support is that which keeps the military family from sinking. But where do we find it?

The list of the most likely places is, actually, pretty substantial. You can go to your very own support group. Nearly every command has a support group which addresses the needs of the family members of that particular command. You can also go to your command’s ombudsman. This person has access to a multitude of sources of support. Next, you can go to Navy Family Services, which is staffed by professionals who are trained and dedicated to help you help yourself. You can go to shipmates’ spouses, or you can go to previous shipmates’ spouses – in other words, those ” very dear good friends” we all make along the way.

Or, you can talk to someone who has been through exactly what you are going through, knows exactly how hard it is, and knows exactly what will help. You can talk to a member of the retired military community here in Hampton Roads.

A while back my two boys and I were facing an unexpected long haul of one year without him…their father, my husband.It Had come as a sudden surprise, and on this particular Sunday, he had only been gone a week. The reality of what laid before the three of us was just sinking in. We were at church, where we are fortunate to have many members who are retired military.

Oldest sons have a hard time when Dad is gone. No matter how many times you tell them that Mom will take care of them and they are not to worry about stuff, they worry. And they try to take care of you. You tell them to cut it out, but they can’t. In his mind, he is the man of the house.

My teenage son was trying to deal with this awesome responsibility which he was facing. He looked worried that morning in church. Nothing I had said seemed to relieve him. Then, one of my retired Navy church friends took him aside after the service, thinking I was engaged in another conversation. I pretended to be, but I watched and strained to hear what was going on.

Chris Vatidis told my son that if he ever needed some help, you know, Mom wasn’t managing too well, and you just need an extra hand, for whatever, a ride somewhere, a ride home from somewhere, (wink, wink) then you call me. Then Chris, retired Navy aviator, gave my son his business card and explained that his beeper was always on his belt. ” All you gotta do is call me.” Chris then put his arm around my son’s shoulders while the man of the house tucked the card into his wallet.

As my son returned to my side, he walked a little taller. I breathed a little easier. And the days began to get a little better.

There are some people who willingly agree to give you a back rub, but you have to give them directions all the time. A little higher, a little to the left, right there, no, down there! Then, there are those other wonderful people who just instinctively know where to rub. You just lay there in silence because you realize you are in the hands of a master. Retired military people are just such masters – of support.

Where can you find them? They wait in line with you at the commissary. They sit next to you at church. They take night classes with you. They live on your block. They volunteer at your children’s schools and at the library. Gosh, they are everywhere in Hampton Roads.

So don’t be afraid to approach one of them for some support. I promise you – they will lift you higher than anything Playtex has on the market.

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