Military parents air their worries over children at war
August 4, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — Vicki Cody is one of hundreds of thousands of American parents who know what it feels like to send her children to war.
“It’s like being punched in the stomach,” said Cody, whose two sons, Clint, 28, and Tyler, 26, are Army captains serving their second combat tours in Iraq.
This is the fifth yearlong rotation Cody has weathered in the past four years, counting the rotation of her husband, the Army’s vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody.
Both Codys joined a panel of eight high-ranking service officials and their spouses to discuss what it’s like to be a parent with a child in the post-Sept. 11 military at a Wednesday luncheon here, held by the National Military Family Association.
The spouses on the panel agreed with Sheila Casey, wife of Gen. George Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces–Iraq, who said, “as a mother, sending your husband off [to war] is very, very different from sending your child.
“You look at your husband as an adult, but your child is always your child,” no matter what his age, said Casey, whose son, Ryan, is an Army specialist.
Mary Regner, wife of Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Regner, deputy director of the Programming Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, agreed. She said spouses left behind during deployments have so many responsibilities keeping the household together, “you have to prioritize what you’re going to worry about.”
But, Regner, who has a son, Michael Jr., who is a Marine first lieutenant serving in Afghanistan, said, “When you’re a parent, you just have to let them go.”
Her husband noted that servicemembers and, to an extent, their spouses, get extensive assistance in surviving deployments, from predeployment preparation assistance to postdeployment stress counseling.
“But how about those [parents] back home?” Regner said. “How much training do moms and dads have to cope with all the mental, physical or financial pressures?”
The stress of deployments can be worse for parents because units and Family Support Groups focus mostly on spouses when it comes to sharing information, according to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney McKinley.
The services need to “keep the families that are left behind integrated into the units … so they feel that they are part of the family,” said McKinley, whose son, Rodney II, is an airman first class in Sawa, Japan.
To help parents understand what resources are available to them as they work to support their children during deployments, Vicki Cody has written a guidebook, titled “Your Soldier, Your Army.” To order a free copy, call 800-336-4570, ext. 150 or 151, or go to www.ausa.org/family.