by Joseph DeGweck

Lying deep within the childhood memories of us all, I’m sure, are those imaginary moments of fantasy that energized our spirit and delivered us into a world far from home. As we meet with our friends or gathered together in our backyards or neighborhood parks to play; we often brought with us an innocent, surreal sense of life. As young children playing a game of hide-in-seek; laughing, running or rolling toward our destination and almost breathlessly shouting “home free”. And as we grew, perhaps a month or two later, we transformed these games of hide-in-seek into those of playing the monster. “Frankenstein”, or the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, rising from the bushes in our own backyard and chasing its victims into the secure arms and loving lap of our mothers, as they watched. I remember playing “shark” in our bathtubs and pools. Then, as time went on unnoticed, we became cowboys or Indians, soldiers and guardians of a righteous world. But all games would end as the sun would set and we would return home. It was here, in this place, lying on the floor or gathered around the table, that we would share with our mom and dad, our brothers and sisters, the thrills of our childhood play that occurred that day. As their eyes watched and their ears listened and their mouths turned a smile, a peacefulness would emerge, and a cherished sense of security would surround me and comfort me with the warmth of a “mothers love”.

This brings us to the purpose of our article this month. For the past few months, After 50 News has recognized many of our local community leaders and organizations that continue to make Western New York a great place to live. This month we wanted to pay tribute to our moms and to our military. We searched for such an organization in our area but the closest we could find was an organization housed out of Cleveland, Ohio. It is a support group “comprised of mothers and fathers with children in all branches of the Armed Services”. Its mission “is to be a support and informational network for mothers and fathers with children in the military”; “that will address the concern surrounding the involvement of their children”. This group is appropriately named M.O.M.; Mothers of Military. Since its inception in September, 2000; M.O.M. has grown from 5 worried mothers sitting in their living rooms, to over 300 mothers and fathers meeting monthly to support one another. It is affiliated with the USO of Northern Ohio and its main focus is “to support those who support our troops and to support our troops who protect us”. It focuses on the parents whose children have made the free choice to serve our country. It focuses on the worry and concerns that these parents live with every day their child is away.

In the spring of the year 2000, a lady by the given name of Lucky was challenged with a very real and difficult event that was about to take place in the life of her family. Her daughter, Meka, was about to leave home. Meka had made the honorable and conscious decision to join the military. Lucky was able to share with me her perspective on this change in her family’s life. She stated that “I don’t know if it ever becomes easy for your child to go away”; “but it is more difficult when they are going away to war”. Lucky, together with her husband Mabry, would stand strong and support one another as they considered the uncertainty that would await their youngest child, their daughter, Meka. Their son, Mabry Jr. also provided them with a hopeful sense of family accord as Meka left on her assignment to the Middle East. Traveling toward a destiny unfamiliar, a fate unknown, into a providence “volatile” and unpredictable, Meka marched honorable forward. But Lucky felt a need to talk with other mothers that were experiencing the same “emptiness” she was feeling. .And so out of what Lucky considers a “selfish need” she searched for a support group that could help her cope with this new and uncharted region of emotional anguish. Lucky had attended several different meetings of a support group for military wives and girlfriends. She found them to be informative yet they did not “address” her needs. She needed an “avenue” that would merge the concerns and trepidations of military moms, dads, grandparents, siblings and other family members onto a highway of understanding and amity. And as Lucky searched she found that what she needed was being created through her friendships with neighbors, church members and co-workers who had children in the military. Together they started a support group for military families. Together they became M.O.M.

Lucky claims that her name is symbolic of the “blessings” that she receives every day. Was it by chance or perhaps some higher intervention that her search had provided her with the opportunity to develop a support group that would touch the lives of so many others in need? We’ll never know for sure; but I am confident that Lucky and her follow M.O.M.s do know. That is why Lucky continues to host and sponsor this organization. Having returned safely from her duty in the Middle East, Lucky’s daughter, now Sgt. Meka M ?????????, is a proud member of the Ohio National Guard. Lucky says that you never know when Meka might be called for active duty and we need to be prepared. That is what M.O.M does. It prepares its comrades to cope with the every day challenges and stress of a child grown into responsibility, of a child now matured, not nurtured. This is a difficult transition for parents whose whole lives have been dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of their children but together the members of M.O.M.. prevail.

Over the past seven years since its inception, M.O.M.’s has served the needs of our soldier’s parents throughout the United States. From Vermont to Washington State, interaction has emerged between families of our military men and women that transcend political views and agendas. Virtuously stated by Lucky, “We want our military to know that they are supported; we want our military to know that they are loved. Whether it’s a sibling, whether it’s a grandparent, whether it’s a cousin; everyone is affected by the fact that our family member is not at home with us”. That is why M.O.M. has evolved into such a strategic service for all moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and grandparents of our Armed Forces. The involvement of this organization can be no better demonstrated than by the story of, not only Lucky and her family, but by the story of these five other M.O.M.’s.

Sue, from Chesterland, Ohio, has been involved with M.O.M. for the past four years. Her son John is a Staff Sgt. in the United States Air Force. Since his enlistment in June, 2001, he has served his country at eight different stations throughout the world, including Kuwait and Iraq. Sue understands that “no one can know what it is like or how it feels to have your child away and in the military”. Only another parent who lives with this emptiness everyday can understand. Sue states that “this is a time of war and uncertainty” but she is “so blessed to be a part of the M.O.M.’s organization”. Her involvement seems to act as a catalyst that provides a greater purpose to her life. She spoke to me with such conviction. Sue left me with a sense that just being able to share with other parents this sense of “uncertainty”, that they all suddenly experienced, is liberating to her. Sue also mentioned that her involvement has brought a sense of calm to her son. Staff Sgt John ?????????, knowing that while he is away, his mom has the support of others that share her concerns.

Rebecca is a mother of two of our active military elite from Pennsylvania. Her son, Capt. Mark ?????????, is currently stationed in Afghanistan. Mark was also a first responder to the tragic event that took place at the Pentagon on September 11. Her other son, Capt. Matthew ?????????, and his wife Amy, have together served in Iraq. Upon their return from active duty they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, May. She was a “welcome home baby”. Rebecca shared with me the empowerment that the organization, M.O.M.’s, has given her. When depressed, Rebecca knows that she is only a phone call or an E-Mail away from someone, like Lucky or Sue, who will raise her spirit and motivate her purpose as a mom. It is this motivation that has championed her to create fund raisers for our troops. She has involved the whole community. From a well known exercise franchise, to her family dentist, Rebecca has organized events that have provided many needed items for our troops. From “baby wipes to girl scout cookies”, Rebecca assures that our fighting men and women are remembered. Just like so many other of the M.O.M.’s chapters, throughout our country, that do all they can to provide our troops with a taste of home while they are away and serving.

Kathy, a military M.O.M. from Ohio, spoke so proudly of being a “Marine Mom”. Her son, LCPL Jeffrey ????????? is preparing for his second tour of duty. She spoke of the hopefulness he had; that he would be able to return to the same area that he had been stationed before. Jeffrey wanted to be able to visit with the children and the families from Iraq that had befriended him on his last tour of duty. Kathy also shared with me her appreciation for all of the support that M.O.M.’s had given her and her family. “My first meeting was awesome”. “We learn what to say when people speak negatively about our troops”; which is a very sensitive issue for all of these women. Kathy also told me about how to send care packages; how to pack them and what not to send. She informed me of the availability of “flat-rate boxes” from the post office that enabled more to be sent for less money. Kathy writes, “M.O.M. has been a great support to me in coping with Jeff’s upcoming second tour of duty. It is a comfort zone; neutral territory where emotions flow freely and unconditional love is shared.” Kathy shared with me how her parents are also“great supporters of Mother's of the Military”. How, together, they and their community face the challenges that confront their sons and daughters, their grandsons and granddaughters, their children, our guardians of peace and freedom. How her life’s challenges are liberated as they face “the tougher times to come”.

The passion of the mothers love has engulfed this country and I could probably write a book with all of the responses I have received. But sadly I must close this article. As I do I would like to leave you with some brief but vital thoughts of its purpose. Written by the hands and impassioned by the hearts of the mothers that once held them as babes and today continue to bestow upon their children a warmth of security answered by a commitment to duty.

Carm, “A PROUD MOM” writes; “my son Airman Brian ????????? is currently stationed in the Middle east and does Aircrew Life Support. Brian is my only child so when he wanted to enlist I was shocked and honored to know that my son wanted to do something so important.” When writing about M.O.M.’s she states: “this group has shown me a lot I would not have known without them or taken longer to find out”.

Michelle. The mother of Army Spc. Matthew ?????????, who just returned home from Iraq in December of 2006, writes: “his deployment was very dangerous’; ‘his unit fought their way through dangerous routes peppered with bombs and ambushes.” “We are very fortunate to have a mother/fathers support group. It has been a great comfort to be surrounded by other mothers, fathers, etc. who have loved ones in the military. It has helped me cope with some difficult times and also has been an informative educational tool”.

And so now I ask you, what greater purpose hath the love of a mother, hath the love of a child, than to bear concern for one another? What greater purpose hath a nation than “to support those who support our freedoms”? So before the sun sets and this day ends I ask you to turn a smile and offer an ear to listen to our M.O.M.'s of the military. Their mission is critical and entrenched within the bonding relationship from which we all have been conceived.

If you are in need of support or you wish to offer support to others, I ask that you contact Mothers Of Military, M.O.M' through their website at: or email Lucky, Sue, Rebecca, Kathy, Carm, Michelle, and many other moms and dads are prepared and readied to help.

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