The last Iowa National Guard troops deployed overseas returned home a few weeks ago, but hundreds of other families statewide are coping with the holidays as loved ones in uniform are on far-away active duty.
Ellie Kay wrote the book, “Heroes at Home,” which offers tips for those who’ve been left behind.
Kay says, “There’s a lot of longing that goes on and even in some cases grief because you feel like you’re missing out or your children are missing out on that parent that may be gone during the holidays.”
This time of year can be especially tough on the families of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Kay says families across Iowa should reach out to other members of the military community to give — and receive — support.
Kay says, “They will understand what you’re going through during the holidays and they know what to do to help support that military family, especially if their loved one is deployed.”
She says a decade at war is taking a toll on military families. Kay says there are many resources available to Iowa military families, including counseling, to help cope with the separation.
She says, “They can go and talk through issues of maybe dealing with a spouse that has post-traumatic stress syndrome or maybe just trying to cope with the children.”
In decades past, letters were the only form of communication between deployed troops and the home front, but now, it’s just a matter of email, Skype or a cell call. Kay says it’s important for families to stay positive while a loved one is deployed.
“You have a job back at home and your job is to tell your military member that you love them, you’re proud of them and you’re going to be all right.”
Kay’s father, husband and two sons have all served in the armed forces.