The note asking about how to deal with your soldier coming home for R&R from Iraq, with so many people wanting to see him/her, and how to handle that prompted me to let everyone know of another group that you too can get involved with and will help you in dealing with your son/daughter heading into harms way and other issues that come up during that time. If there is not a Chapter in your area....start one!!!
When my son was at West Point, I was very involved with the West Point Parents Club in our area. I pulled away from that a couple of years after graduation, but then realized I needed something else as our young LTS were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Three West Point Moms got together and decided to start a Blue Star Mothers Chapter here in Albuquerque. With the help of a gal who had a very active group in Farmington, we held our first meeting in June 2004. We had maybe ten Moms/Dads at our first meeting and just nine months later, we are over 160 families strong. We come together once a month and talk about our concerns, and ask questions like...
"Our Captain is coming home for R&R next month. He has been involved in constant night missions for the past half year. I could use some advice or rationale for handling things upon his return."
We have all been there and can share how we handled the situation.
I had a slightly different situation...my son returned home after five months in Iraq after he was wounded during a mortar attack. He had a month at home and of course everyone wanted to see him. I told him the first hour he was home that he didn't have to talk to anyone if he didn't want to, this was his time, but of course I was very curious about everything that had happened to him while he was in Iraq....but again, he could talk if he wanted to, or say nothing if that is what he preferred. He did tell us a little, many things Mom will never find out, but finally he told us to invite the neighbors in all at once, so they could ask the many questions and he could tell them a little bit about his experiences, just once, and not have to repeat it a thousand times to everyone who called. He contacted a few people, but mostly just wanted down time and we respected that. He did go in to talk to some school children at the local elementary school that had been supporting him, and his soldiers, and that was definitely the highlight during the time he was home. Just give lots of hugs and let them sleep, eat, and do nothing. The two weeks of R&R will go much too fast and its not easy letting them go again. My son redeployed in November and just returned to Fort Hood with his unit on March 1st.
For more information about the National Blue Star Mothers go to - www.bluestarmothers.org
For information about the Chapter we started in New Mexico go to - www.nmbluestarmothers.org
It has been a lifesaver for me and the military families, veterans, and other contacts I have made this past year have made my life so much richer.
I will continue to help other Blue Star Moms, Dads, Wives and loved ones of our soldiers serving their country during time of war. We are keeping ourselves busy by sending boxes to our troops, sewing neck coolers, and just supporting each other. We are Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force/National Guard/Reserves....all one family and so proud of our young men and women serving our country and we look forward to every minute we spend together for this one purpose.
Please feel free to email me personally if I can answer any other questions concerning Blue Star Mothers. I proudly display the Blue Star Banner in my window. http://www.bluestarmothers.org/flags.php