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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Connected Army Families

Fourteen weeks after theArmy Infantry training officially began my oldest son (referred to as #1 son) has now graduated. Within 10 minutes of graduation he marched off to Airborne Hold and is now in an Airborne unit. Fortunately after we parents stood in the hot Georgia sun for 5 hours, their new unit released them for a weekend pass. So proud of those soldiers. That makes two sons that have graduated basic training this fall.

We almost didn’t make it. Only through the connections we made online and in army forums were we able to be there. After teaching all day, taking #3 son back to the doctor, and driving 6 hours, the car’s right front tire seized up at 70 mph only one mile from Fort Benning. At midnight I’m sitting alongside the road looking at the signpost to Fort Benning and wondering if I’m going to have to walk to get there.

I was just far enough away from the post that my cell phone worked so I could reconnect with the world and come up with Plan B. My brothers were cub scouts so I understand the phrase "Be Prepared!" I had made sure I have Roadside Assistance with my car insurance so activated it and began the wait. Logistically I needed to get from the side of the road to a repair shop, to the motel, and to the ceremony the next morning. 

I’d programmed in the names of other parents (note photo of Laura Kelley, Chloe Wilson, and me) who had sons/boyfriends in the same unit and began leaving messages on their phones. We’d met online in the forums, shared the experience of watching our children grow into soldiers, and established relationships including sharing contact information. Would anyone help?

By 2 a.m. my family was in a hotel room, the car at Meineke. At 8 a.m. army family cars showed up and loaded us up to attend the ceremony. We journeyed back with families to their cabins to celebrate our sons and were ecstatic to hear the car was repaired. Our greatly expanded family continued celebrating with lunch and then the return to the car shop.

We were able to get beyond celebrating with only one group to reaching out to other families and soldiers. How will this impact our soldiers in the future? We demonstrated what Army Strong Families are and what they do for others. The phrase I kept hearing over and over was, "I just hope someone is there in case my son ever needs help."

Sometimes in our school library silos we don’t reach out to others and build communities. Be strong, ye librarians, be together and get connected.