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Family Matters Blog: Deployments from a Parent's Perspective

By Lori J. Danby
Tri Counties Blue Star Moms

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2010 – Lori J. Danby is the president and founder of the Tri Counties Blue Star Moms in Northern California. Her son, Marine Corps Cpl. Brian Danby is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In this blog, Lori shares Brian's story of joining the Marines, how his deployment to Iraq prodded her to found the local chapter of Blue Star Moms and what she learned from both of his wartime deployments.

A Blue Star Mom Offers Tips for Deployments

My son, Brian C. Danby, decided to join the military after Sept. 11, 2001. My father is a Vietnam veteran who served 20 years in the Army. My husband's father served in the Marines in Korea. Brian's family history and the "sword" are the reasons he chose the Marines. Brian joined Sept. 12, 2005, and got out on Sept.  11, 2009 (and, yes, he planned those dates specifically). He made corporal and is still in an inactive status.

When I learned of Brian's first pending deployment to Iraq scheduled for January 2007, I was inspired to start our local chapter of Blue Star Moms, the Tri Counties Blue Star Moms. I knew there had to be other moms facing some of the same anxieties that I had. I searched the Internet looking for a support group. I came upon the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. What impressed me most is that it is an organization for moms with children who are serving and or have served in all branches of the armed forces. Since we are in a small town, Yuba City, Calif., I knew it was best to include all branches.

As a Blue Star Mom, I would like to share some tips I learned as my son completed two wartime deployments, the first to Iraq and a second to Afghanistan. I think these tips are important because much of the communication between the military and servicemember tends to seem geared toward their spouse and dependents, leaving parents somewhat out of the loop.

-- This is the most important!!! Keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. They have completed boot camp or basic training and have been trained to be a fighter. They are no longer your little boy or princess. Sometimes communication falters as they have a hard time expressing themselves in this new role. When they are facing their first deployments they are as scared as you, but have been trained not to let it show.

-- Attend any and all "Family Days." These events are informative and allow parents to get to know your servicemember's closest friends and their parents. Make sure you exchange contact information with these other parents. Usually, you will meet your servicemember's liaison, in the Marines they are known as Family Readiness Officers. This is the person on their base that can help with information, payroll and other needs.

-- Help your servicemember fill out their legal forms such as power of attorney and their will. If you have the power of attorney, keep a copy for yourself and provide copies of everything to the military. Encourage your servicemember to add you as a contact name on his/her documents. If you are divorced, adding both parents is best. If your servicemember is married, encourage them to add your name, too. In the case of an emergency, only the people listed are the ones the military will contact.

-- If you are divorced, PLEASE, put your differences aside and stand as a united unit for your child. Nothing is more stressful for your child than parents who cannot be in the same room with each other as your servicemember is preparing for deployment.

-- Get your passport, now and make sure it remains valid. If your servicemember is injured, and the military deems it beneficial, two family members are allowed to travel to your servicemember's bedside.

-- Most companies will suspend, without penalty, some accounts, for example, cell phones, car insurance, gym memberships. These companies will often request a copy of the servicemember's orders.

-- Make sure you get your servicemember's deployment address. Care packages from home are the best morale booster. Please feel free to send extra, unfortunately, some soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen will never receive anything from home.

-- Keep your letters and phone calls light; try not to burden your servicemember with family issues that can wait until they get home. You want their minds on their job -- not worrying about what is going on at home which they have no control over anyway.

-- If you have a family emergency, such as the death of an immediate family member, contact your local American Red Cross. Have their name, rank, and unit information available.

-- Last but not least, look for an organization where you can volunteer to support our troops. Sharing experiences with other parents is very beneficial and it gives you an avenue to relieve some of your anxieties.

I hope these help. Please, thank your child for making the tough decision to join the military and defend their country. Our country was built and stays free because of the sacrifices made by our veterans and our children.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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