Thursday, November 21, 2013

Yellow Ribbon: The Agony of Waiting & How We Can Help

I recently had to be a single mom again for a week (well...for five days...and my mom was visiting, and my in-laws live just down the I am a wimp...but anyways...!)

Steven had to go out of town for work and I was on [ahem] my own. It sucked.  I really really don't like being on my own. You probably know the feeling...adrift, with no hope of rescue in sight and the days drag about 15 times slower than they normally do, which is pretty dang slow.  Lemme tell ya.

ANY-ways. This isn't all about me {gasp!}.

My dear, dear sister is currently enduring the monster of all separations, otherwise known as military deployment of your husband to a foreign and dangerous place for the longest amount of time there is: nearly a year. Blech of all blechs.

Now, I know that my sister doesn't want me to use my tiny public forum to call attention to herself, or to make you pity her. No, not at all, but perhaps I can enlighten you a little bit, and you'll remember to thank your soldiers, and mail them care-packs, and hug their loved ones waiting at home.


Firstly, you should know that the wives and families of military folks know that their soldiers are worse off. The soldiers are in strange places with dangerous events and less than ideal (often way, way less than ideal) levels of hygiene and creature comforts. This is part of the agony: knowing that no matter how much it stinks to wait at home, someone you love is going through something worse.  This can even be a two-fold addition to the problem: feeling bad for them plus feeling bad that you feel sorry for yourself when you have it so much better.

My two of these guys is not like the other...
The thing is, the rest of us can't really do much to alleviate the stress of being apart for these military families. They feel lonely, but not generalized lonely--they are lonely for a specific and most cherished person. Often our well-meant inquiries about how things are going can just add to the problem, with Army wives having to scramble for yet another way to answer the oft-asked "how's he doing?".  We mean well, but we'd probably do better just to be extra nice and just offer opportunities for interaction or assistance (go to a movie, go for a walk...even grocery shopping, or better yet: rake leaves...wash dishes!), keeping in mind that sometimes it's nice just to be home alone for an episode of Downton Abbey or something instead (in other words, offer to hang out or to do something helpful, but the answer isn't always going to be a yes). Pamper the military families you know, and pray for their soldiers.  

If you're like me, however, you'd also like some concrete ways to help.  You're more than welcome to support my favorite brother-in-law...but he might get overwhelmed if you all do that (all two of you, my faithful readers...!), SO here's some other ways you can help from home:

1. Thank a soldier. When you see someone in uniform, thank him.  You don't have to be profuse or say anything you've prepared ahead; just say thanks, or shake his hand. Acknowledge that though his service may be voluntary, it is still a profound sacrifice that the rest of us benefit from daily. 
Crew 57, 62nd Squadron, 39th Bomb Group, 20th Air Force (USAAF): 2Lt. Harry Eddy.

2. Send your money to the USO. These folks are right there with the troops, providing support on a daily basis.  A dear friend of my family, and church back home, works with the USO...they do wonderful work!
USO rocks :)
3. Pray for our soldiers. The prayer below is from the USCCB, who have multiple prayers on this site for soldiers and their families, and even a small prayer service for sending troops off. 

Almighty and eternal God,those who take refuge in you will be glad 
and forever will shout for joy.Protect these soldiers as they discharge their duties.
Protect them with the shield of your strength
and keep them safe from all evil and harm.
May the power of your love enable them to return home
in safety, that with all who love them,
they may ever praise you for your loving care.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

There are *tons* of other different groups out there showing their appreciation for our soldiers. Pick one and run with it! Here's a sampling of some I found with a quick little Google search:

Yellow Ribbon Photographers
Pro-photography free of charge to servicemen so that they have a
piece of home with them while they're gone
(Also special photo shoots for occasions they may miss, like the birth of a child)

Adopt a Soldier 

Operation Shower
Provides "joyful" baby showers to military families

employer/job-seeker site for hiring veterans!

supports families back home & troops abroad

lists of items soldiers need and you pick where to send them

We thank our soldiers, and we pray for them and their closest family. May they swiftly be brought back together in the sweet delight of homecoming, that mere taste of that future joy which we hope to attain, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.


  1. ditto the above comment. praying for his safe and healthy return.

  2. I am adding your sister and brother--in-law to my prayers. We did this last year and you got it right. Another thing that is helpful -- instead of the vague and general "Let me know what I need to do to help you." because honestly I really never wanted to call someone out of the blue when I needed help -- it really was great when someone showed up and said, "I'm here. What do you need right now?" and then did it. Taking the van to be cleaned, changing light bulbs, fixing the running toilet. Anything.


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