Many of you know I am a military spouse. My husband, Sr. Chief Tom Cotton, has been in the Navy Reserves for 17 years. He has deployed 3 times. He has been to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Djibouti. Although he has served 17 years and 3 deployments, he has never been on a ship! He is ground support often working along side of Army Rangers and/or Navy Seals. During these deployments my two children and I were lucky enough to have the support of our family, friends and community. One thing we lacked was the comradery of living on a military base. Though, there were people from Tom's unit that checked on me regularly and I will never forget them.
Deployments bring on many challenges. It isn't just the absence, it's the way parenting changes, loneliness, and much more responsibility. As I stated above the kids and I had a lot of support, but it still wasn't easy. We were much more fortunate than some that we had technology and were able to talk to him on a regular basis. Learning to make parenting decisions on my own was hard, but learning to parent together again was even harder.
I remember we couldn't wait to see Tom walk through the gate at the airport. It was so emotional. Then the real work happened. I remember the questioning look when I told one of the kids they could spend the night somewhere without running it past him first. Him dealing with emotional stuff that he wouldn't or couldn't discuss. As he was to return from his first deployment, I remember him saying he had to fill out a check list to see if he needed emotional support upon stateside. He said if he indicated, at any point, that he did, he would be stuck in Norfolk, VA for an undetermined amount of time. That is when I first discovered that the system for our Veterans was broken.
In the last few years I've been hearing of many more people and veterans taking their own lives. They feel alone and don't know where or how to turn for help. In September I participated in a Mission 22 Fundraiser. Mission 22 is dedicated to healing America's veterans when they need it most - right now! They offer treatment for PTSD and TBI and all of the issues veterans are facing today. Here I learned of a network that helps veterans with emotional support and resources. If you are a vet and need someone to talk to, you can talk to other vets at Vets4Warriors.com. Vets4Warriors, housed at the Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care National Call Center in New Jersey, is a one-of-a-kind 24/7 peer support network. Originally supported by the National Guard Bureau and the U.S. Department of Defense, today Vets4Warriors operates independently of the U.S. military, complementing official government resources available to service members and veterans. Vets4Warriors is committed to ensuring that all veterans, service members, their families, and caregivers always have direct and immediate access to a peer who understands their life experiences and the challenges they face, and can provide support whenever they confront an issue, wherever they are in the world.
Thank you to each and every veteran and their family members for your service. Not only the military member serves, their whole family does! ALWAYS remember you NOT alone in the world. Together we can help each other.