Warfighters celebrate Military Families
November 29, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- "Throughout our Nation's history, an unbroken chain of patriots has strengthened us in times of peace and defended us in times of war. Yet the courageous men and women of the United States military do not serve alone. Standing alongside them are husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers. During Military Family Month, we celebrate the families who make daily sacrifices to keep our Nation whole, and we remember a most sacred obligation - to serve them as well as they serve us," President Barack Obama, from his Presidential Proclamation proclaiming November 2013 as Military Family Month.
This annual Presidential Proclamation marks a month-long celebration of the Military Family and recognizes the commitment and sacrifices Military Families make. The 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command spent Nov. 20, here, celebrating the battalion's Military Families.
"It's really nice when units echo the intent of our commander-in-chief's [Presidential Proclamation]; taking his words and putting them into action. To actually set aside an afternoon and break away from all the commitments is really awesome," said Tiajuana Morgan, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Archie Morgan, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde. "It's amazing when a unit echoes that intent; it lets you know that this [728th MP Bn.] is a unit and command that truly cares about Military Families."
Lt. Col. Theresa Farrell, battalion commander, 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde., knows all too well the importance of the Military Family and the roles they play in support of their Soldiers and to the mission, for having grown up in a Military Family herself.
"My father was in the Army for 22 years and I saw how important it was that us five kids and my mother supported him, and how he was able to do his job because we were there for him," said Farrell.
"It's important that we open up the doors to families and include them so they don't feel like it's a family and a Soldier but rather one Military Family," continued Farrell. "As we've gone through over ten years of conflicts, it's the spouses and the family members that keep our Soldiers serving and it's the spouses and family members that really give our Soldiers the support they need."
The afternoon was filled with music, activities for children, cotton candy, popcorn, raffles and prizes; all typical of what one would expect at a large scale celebration, however there was an atypical theme to the celebration that provided a unique experience for the battalion's Military Families.
Integrated into the festivities were static displays of military vehicles and equipment as well as a physical training challenge all done in a fun way to familiarize the battalion's Military Families with their Soldiers experiences, equipment, and responsibilities.
"Sometimes my son asks me while were driving in the car, 'hey mom, do you drive that vehicle right there, what does it do?'," said Master Sgt. Jamila Smith, battalion S-2 Shop noncommissioned officer in charge, 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde. "So by bringing out the different vehicles and equipment, and by giving our families the physical training challenge, it brings our families and our children into our world for a little while."
Smith added, "it gives them that actually realization of what mom or dad does, that these are the things that mom or dad use to make the mission possible; and when we get up every morning and go to PT these are some of things that we do. So, that was the intent behind it. It felt really good to see a lot of families out there smiling, asking questions and engaging Soldiers in conversation on the capabilities of the equipment and what the Soldiers do."
After the celebration came to an end, Stephanie Cross, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Cross, battalion command sergeant major, 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde., reflected on the event and Military Families.
"It takes a very resilient set of people to be able to do what the Military Family does. Especially the children, having to move schools so often. However, as tough as it may be to say goodbye to their friends I think the outcome is positive; they're learning life skills and these are skills they can put in their tool box that will make them successful later in life. For every hard day I think there are five great days," said Stephanie Cross.
She then reflected on her Military Family. Stephanie Cross and her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Cross, have two children and one grandchild, and will be celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary in December.
"The military is a wonderful place to connect and raise a family. We've enjoyed our years. I always say whenever we're going anywhere that we are an Army Family. I honestly feel like we're all enlisted, if that makes sense, I know we don't do the work that my husband does but we do make the sacrifice," said Stephanie Cross. "We are very grateful for this life, it's been wonderful to us and we look forward to serving in any capacity that we can for as long as we are able."
With all those years of experience raising a Military Family does she have any advice for young Military Families?
Concerning deployments she said, "you know going into it that eventually that day will come, but that day is always difficult. There is always that uncertainty if they are going to come back, but you do the best you can to be both mom and dad while they are away. You can't replace them but you can fill their shoes temporarily while they are away doing their job for our country."
She concluded, "focus on the positive, the most important thing you can do is find the good. Be strong, it's okay to be yourself, it's okay to be an individual. But, when it comes to your Army Family your role is very important and it takes an entire family to be resilient."