USA — Family Matters Blog: Deployments from a Parent’s Perspective

WASHINGTON — 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 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.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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