As we celebrate our military this Veterans Day, I am reminded that it hasn’t even been a year yet since my son returned from his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Like many soldiers who have returned home, Trey is even more eager to serve his country. I am humbled to hear him speak of his service to our state and to our country, and I’m filled with pride when our talks of the future always seem to include his continued commitment to his country and the military.
I am blessed to be part of a lucky family. My wife, Ginny, and I had each other to lean on while Trey was halfway around the world. Many families who have a loved one in the Georgia National Guard lose an integral part of their family when a spouse or parent is fighting for our freedoms overseas. Here in Georgia, these families still need your help.
To honor one such family during a special outing, the Atlanta Braves arranged for a soldier’s wife to bring her kids to a Braves game and attend batting practice. While most of us aren’t famous athletes, this makes no difference in the eyes of a child who goes without seeing their parent for countless months at a time. You can make just as big of an impression on a military child in your community by taking them to a movie, helping them with a school project, or simply playing catch with them. You could be a special hero to his mother who needs help with routine home repairs. There are countless ways that you can make a difference in the lives of these families. They cannot, and should not, bear the burden alone.
We must continue to take care of the families left at home. They serve in their own way. Soldiers, like my son, eagerly decide to put themselves in harms way to serve their country and to protect our freedoms. No one ever asked that soldier’s spouse if they had the necessary tools to fight that fight on the home front. Financial burdens, raising children as a single parent, and loneliness are just some of the enemies these spouses face at home.
The Georgia Army National Guard consists of more than 11,000 citizen-soldiers training in more than 79 hometown armories and facilities across the state. Georgia’s Army Guard is the 10th largest in the nation and includes combat, combat support and combat service support units. These soldiers work in our communities as police, firefighters, and teachers.
I encourage you to find these soldiers from your community. Join with others to see how you can support families left behind. Take them to a sporting event. Find out their interests and help them develop confidence and self-esteem during a trying time in their life. Help with home repairs. Get to know them and find out how you can assist them.
Contribute to the National Guard Family Support Foundation. The Foundation’s website is www.georgiaguardfamily.org, or send a check to the Foundation at 5019 GA Highway 42, Suite 203, Ellenwood, GA 30294-3438.
Support those who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Soldiers overseas appreciate our thoughts and prayers, and gain comfort from knowing that their families are being supported. Ronald Reagan once said “We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.” Let us take a moment today to reflect on the 10 men and women of the Georgia National Guard who bravely gave their lives in 2009 and 2010 for our freedoms, leaving family, friends and loved ones behind.
Sen. Don Balfour represents the 9th Senate District which includes a portion of Gwinnett County. E-mail him at email@example.com.