Military Families Experience Effects of War During Winter Festivities

While many families plan on coming together to decorate their homes, feast and unwrap gifts this season, thousands of military families across the nation will be forced to cope with a family member not being home for the holidays.

According to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network, there are over 750,000 married active duty members. This means that over 750,000 husbands and wives are separated from their loved ones at some point. These separations are only made more difficult during the holiday season.

Military families already face numerous hardships such as communication problems, inevitable worrying, the chance of death and unexpected relocationing. Even in families where the servicemen or women is not on active duty, meaning they are not called to fight in battle, may be regularly forced to move.

Junior Aiden Perrenoud moves every two to four years because his father serves in the army. He has lived in England, Chile and in several states in the U.S.

“Whenever my dad gets deployed, [my family goes] with him … It’s really hard moving around a lot because you have to leave all your friends you’ve made and people you’ve met behind,” Perrenoud said.

Skylin Fosah, RHS 2007 alumnus and a Senior Airman in the U.S. Air Force, has served in various countries including Afghanistan and Djibouti.

When deployed, Fosah is separated from his wife Jasmine and their two children, three-year-old Juliana and six-month-old Skylin II.

“When a military member is deployed, it’s not just the military member who is going through a hard time; it’s the family as well,” Fosah said.

English teacher William Jameson served in the Air Force on a base in Colorado when he was in his 20s. He also experienced the hardships of being away from home during the holidays.

“I came home a couple of times, but most of the time I didn’t really have the leave money to go home, or we wouldn’t be granted leave time so we just had to stay on base and do our job,” Jameson said. “It was just kind of lonely.”

Many organizations, such as Toys for Tots and the United Service Organization (USO), run charities to support and lift the spirits of deployed troops as well as their families back at home by giving out toys, cards and food.

Hallmark and the Red Cross also have partnered to create the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, which encourages people to “give something that means something” this holiday season by sending thank you cards to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.

“Send care packages. Those are priceless … Send a pack of socks, underwear, candy, something,” Fosah said.

After this year’s Halloween, the Key Club ran a Treats for Troops drive. This campaign is sponsored by Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that sends out care packages for the U.S. military. This drive collected and sent over 56 pounds of Halloween candy to troops deployed overseas to raise their spirits while they were away from family.

Junior Seyedehzahra Mousavi and vice-president of the Key Club said, “It’s so important to support our troops especially during the holidays. They sacrifice so much time with their families to serve our country and the holiday season is about giving back. We shouldn’t forget to give back to them.”