Originally published in The Chillicothe Gazette, November 10, 2019.
I flew to Seattle and stayed on base for one last goodbye to my son before his deployment to Afghanistan. Through a few tears and much pride, I hugged him and assured him of our prayers and support. He was finally getting the opportunity to do what he’d been waiting for since he was a young boy, to be a soldier. On the plane back to Ohio I inhaled, and didn’t exhale until about a year later when he came home.
There is a rich history of military service in my family. My husband, grandfather, uncles, nephews and cousins have served over the years. From the time I was old enough to realize the enormity of their sacrifices, I felt respect and appreciation. But this time, of course, was different. This was MY boy. Now I understood first-hand why it is said that military families serve our country too.
This is a familiar story to mothers all over this country. We wait for communication, and for the day when they come home. We often do not know even half of what they endure. We settle for what they choose to reveal, and maybe even feel thankful that they don’t tell us everything. We weep for the ones who don’t come home, because we feel a bond with all military families. We are aware of the PTSD, mental illness, poverty, homelessness and other issues that plague our veterans, and remember that all these afflicted veterans are somebody’s child.
This weekend, we honor those who serve. We acknowledge their selfless gifts to our country. And it’s up to all of us to recognize their needs and offer assistance where we can.
Here at the library, we sincerely thank all veterans. We can offer what libraries do best – information. We have printed materials specifically for veterans, but we can also offer help with job searches and resume creation. Through our library website, there is access to many valuable databases and online learning courses like Gale Courses. We even have a dedicated tech tutor to help with technology needs. Our Outreach department delivers library services and materials to homebound patrons. Of course, we can point veterans in the right direction for services we do not provide, such as to the V.A. or other veterans’ service organizations. Our support of the military doesn’t stop there. The Veterans’ Coffee Social meets every Wednesday at 9:30 in the Myers Meeting Room at the Northside Branch Library. We especially hope to see all our local veterans and community members on May 16, 2020 when the library honors the military at our 8th annual Military Appreciation Picnic at the Northside Branch Library.
Next year, I will be sending another son off to the military. Who knows, maybe it will be easier this time. More likely, though, I will be waiting to exhale when I see his face each time he returns home.
Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all veterans and their families, from the Chillicothe & Ross County Public Library.