Christmas deployments

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

While most folks will spend time with their loved ones today, there are some who aren’t so fortunate. Many military men and women sacrifice sharing the holiday with their loved one so to give their countrymen the chance to celebrate the season in freedom.

“There are many families without their loved ones during the holiday season,” said Amy McIntosh from the Fleet and Family Support Center. “It’s not just families with children, but single sailors, as well. It can be a very lonely time for families.”

Communities across the nation rally around service members to support the families during this time of year.

Organizations such as the United Services Organization and the YMCA lead efforts to help give back to the families. Churches and a number of local organizations and charities offer military families assistance during the season.

Some participants in a USO “Adopt-a-Service Member” program, for instance, will be joining volunteer families for dinner today.

“It gives them a place to go and gets them into the community with families to let them know there are people who care for them and who are supporting them,” said Danis Lensch of USO’s Adopt-a-Service Member. “It’s nice to see people coming into the home and good to see them enjoying the holiday, even though they’re away from home.”

Family Readiness Groups also organize functions for parents and children during deployments.

“This group provides an opportunity to build lasing friendships with other parents experience same feelings and situations,” McIntosh said. “Military spouses often look at the challenge of deployment separations as an opportunity to become more capable, adaptable, and flexible given added responsibilities.”

While the trials of celebrating the holidays without loved ones are difficult, McIntosh said the Fleet and Family Support Center recommends families create traditions for children to focus on, instead of an absent parent.

“Talk with the children about not having one of the parents during the Holidays. Try to establish family traditions which take place every year. This gives children something to look forward to, instead of thinking about the parent that is deployed,” she said.

Another suggestion is to get involved at a mission, church or homeless shelter that is serving the less fortunate. Reaching outside to help others, she said, sometimes helps during times of need.

“It’s an excellent experience for children to see just how fortunate they are, even though they may not have their parent with them for the holiday,” she said.