From the time they are born, we watch over out children, wipe tears, fix boo boos, and dole out hugs. We do everything within our power to keep our children out of harm’s way. Then one day they grow up, walk in and say, “I’m joining the military.” Immediately your heart skips a beat. “My son is choosing to put himself in harm’s way in service of our country and there will be little I can do protect him.”
I recently had the chance to talk to Helen Maxwell, a mom of three sons, all of which chose to join the military. Two of her sons are currently at Fort Benning and Fort Stewart. One is scheduled to deploy for the first time in January. Was their family a military family? No not at all.
What influenced your boys to serve?
Our oldest son was in high school at the time of 9/11. Also, at around the same time a graduate of his high school, who was a Captain in the Army and West Point graduate, came to speak to the school. The combination led him to a desire to serve, and to attend West Point. Our second oldest had an interest in military history since he was in grade school, and had us visit West Point over Easter break when he was in 6th grade. Our third oldest was very much influenced by the choices of his brothers and the time he spent visiting them at West Point. He ultimately chose the ROTC route.
How did your children’s enlistment affect you and your family?
Our son’s decision to be Army officers has introduced us to many wonderful people and organizations during the past six years, and the effect on our family has been nothing but positive and rewarding.
Do you think about the day they will be deployed? What’s your strategy for dealing with that when it happens?
I’m not sure how the day of deployment will go, but my strategy for coping will probably remain as it has been through the last few years: to be positive, supportive, and prayerful always.
How do you communicate with your children?
Presently we talk on the phone and text, with the occasional care package. I see Skype in the near future.
What do you love most about being a military mom?
I love seeing how proud my sons are of how much they have accomplished so far. I think being in the military makes a young man or woman stand a little taller, gives them confidence, and strength that carries over to other aspects of their lives. I can’t help but be proud when I see them in uniform, with their buddies. The friends they have made and the support they have for one another is reassuring and comforting for me as a mom.
How do you show your support for our troops?
We support the Wounded Warrior Project. We have been involved with the West Point Parents Club of Massachusetts, which offers much support of our troops, everything from letter writing to sending care packages.
What is the greatest piece of advice you could give to other military moms?
Moms need to reach out to other moms, establish a network or support system where experiences, concerns, worries, and happy moments can be shared.
My final question was regarding the election knowing that the Oval Office has a tremendous impact our military. Helen said, “I want a President that supports the active military as well as our vets, ensures adequate funding of what is needed both in battle and after battle, and uses a threat to the national interest on the United States as the litmus test to putting our men and women in harms way.”
Are you a military mom or apart of a military family? How do you show your support for our troops? We’d love to hear your story.