Tag Archives: challenges

What does it mean to be invited to the White House Community Leaders briefing?

When I was notified that I had been selected to attend the White House Community Leaders briefing , my first thought was- “My wish is coming true!”

I have been wishing  to share with our government how we can better help our military families experiencing  deployments and returning home for sometime . I faced so many challenges at that time when my daughter was deployed and I knew other families must have faced the same issues, also. 

White House administration for the first time in history has opened up their doors. They have selected  community leaders to share  how they are improving their communities and in hopes of bridging government services to better serve our people.  I was selected because of my work in  educating our military families on deployment and reintegration.  And will be attending this briefing with the White House administration on August 12. It is an all day event.

I was informed by the White House Administration  prior to my visit, to select one of the four  departments to speak to -Small Business, Environment, Health Care /Human Services or Dept. of Education.  I selected the Department of Education.  I think informing the school administration on how to better understand and help the children of military families.  More than half of our military families are living in communities and  do not live on  military base.

I began to think back about the time when our  granddaughters came to  live with us during our daughter’s deployment. And the challenges I faced- changing my entire lifestyle, dealing with concerns for our daughter’s safety, the lack of communication, being a parent again,enrolling children in a new school, trying to find after school care( which I was unsuccessful due to limited space and being mid year), I had no support due to our location, and experienced many mixed emotions or being a parent, again.

Military families need help with many issues they face during deployment. So many of our families are on our own, trying to do the best job they can while their loved one is away.

I thought , wouldn’t it have been nice if I would have known where to get help. Have all the resources at my fingertips when my daughter was deployed? I would have loved to have had an after school care, homework helpers, babysitters -I could afford. Having other deployed children for my granddaughters to connect to, knowing what deployment was like. And maybe, a network of  other families in the same situation.

So now, here is my chance and I can’t wait to speak!

Want to share your story or do you have an idea on how to help other military families you would like to me share with the White House? I would love to hear from you.

Send me your comments.

She is a wife of a deployed, a mom of a deployed, a grandmother/guardian of her deployed daughter’s children all at the same time!

My husband Alan and I  had the honor to meet many supporting military  families at the Yellow Ribbon event for the deployed Army Reserves.  I loved hearing their personal stories of what their family experiences have been with their deployments. Each story is unique and touches my heart, and we all have a common ground. Trying to cope with what you have been dealt, and attempting to achieve a positive outlook and experience.

I know our personal situation with deployment was challenging, with being a parents to our granddaughters. Each family had a special story.

One families’ story I think stuck out in my mind that day. A woman shared with  Alan and I that her husband was currently deployed, for the past  year. While her husband was deployed, just four  months ago, she became the guardians of her Army Reserves daughter’s three children, ages -16, 10 and 6. She and her husband had downsized to a smaller home, a 1 bedroom and a loft, 10 years ago. She lives relatively  close to her daughter’s home. She felt she wanted to provide her grandchildren a familiar surroundings and a normal routine. She felt this would help them during  their mother’s deployment. The kids  get ready for school at their own home, and after school they would  return  to complete their homework. They all ate dinner together, then they would  gather  their belongings and sleep at their grandmother’s house. She felt she needed to sleep in her own bed. She shared with us the challenges of balancing the two households, children’s activates and her daily routine.

She is alone, facing all the mixed emotions and duties of her new responsibilities. When her husband returns, he will be able to help her in a few months. But in the meanwhile it’s all up to her.

I asked her how the children were dealing with this. She explained that the youngest child was convinced their mother would not return home safely. And they were fearful of anything happening to her, since she was the only one there for them. She was concerned and recognized the children’s  mental health was an issue. She sought out counseling to help the children and herself. I give her credit for reaching out for help. The military provides exceptional counseling for families dealing with all sorts of issues. I give her credit, for recognizing they all needed help!

I shared with her the website and my email, encouraging her to keep me posted on her progress, and if  she needed a shoulder to lean on,I was there for her. Knowing you have others that are or have been  in  the same situation is so gratifying. Knowing others  have come through deployment, makes all the difference in the world.

I am  proud to know other deployed families, and their commitment to sacrificing their lifestyle and making a difference for their family, doing what ever it takes for the family.  Cheers to those families!

We are the Force behind Our Force!

Deployed Grandparents

I am a working empty nester grandmother that became a care giver to her granddaughters, when our USAF daughter was deployed to Afghanistan. The children had to adjust to a non military lifestyle and moving to our home in another state. My role changed from being a grandmother to an acting parent with all the responsibilities. Our daughter faced the separation and feeling of disconnection of her role as a mother. We faced many challenges, and gained a greater understanding of what military families face when their love ones are deployed. We did not know when our daughter returned, how challenging it would be to reconnect her to her children and her old lifestyle, even though she did not experience trauma. I have written a book soon to be published book “Deployed Grandparents being Parents”, my personal journey during this time. Hoping this will help others that are care giving children. Even though our daughter has returned we face the possibility of future deployments, so our journey will continue..

Debbie Nichols