Deployed father watches son graduate high school
July 14, 2011
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan " A parent in a deployment environment can miss out on many important events in a child’s life, but the opportunity to communicate back home plays a major role in preventing parents from missing these moments.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Johnson, command sergeant major for 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), had the chance to see his son, Brandon, graduate from Carthage Central High School during a live video stream of the event June 24.
“I knew that my son was going to graduate high school, and I had to make a decision: do I want to go home on leave for his high school graduation, or do I want to go on leave when it’s time to take him off to college?” Johnson said.
The ability for Johnson to see a live video feed of the graduation gave him a way to not only see the graduation but also be there on his son’s first day of college.
“It means a lot to me, considering he's one of the most influential people who got me to where I am today,” Brandon said. “It’s important to me, to know that he not only knows that, but he also gets to see me graduate.”
Johnson said missing a major event in his child’s life is something that weighed heavily on his mind.
“It’s a huge factor in Soldier morale. For a parent, high school graduation is a very emotional event. It’s a very proud moment just being able to see it,” he said.
The ability to communicate back home can ease the burden of being separated from Family and help a Soldier’s ability to focus on the mission.
“He doesn't need more stress than he already has when he's fighting in Afghanistan,” Brandon said.
Johnson’s reason for choosing to save his leave to take Brandon to college was a practical one.
“It really came down to what would be tougher on his mother. A high school graduation is a happy time; a mother leaving her kid in a different state to go to college would be harder on a mother emotionally,” he said.
Johnson’s decision also seems to sit well with his son, who is now looking forward to a road trip with his father.
“Graduation is a big deal, but being the first person in your family to attend a four-year university is bigger in my opinion, and I think he feels the same way,” Brandon said.
However, Brandon still didn’t quite see why it was important to his father to see him graduate.
“I don't completely understand it, but I think that’s something I’ll understand when I’m a father,” he said.
“What a parent feels when a child graduates high school is indescribable, of how proud you are as a parent,” Johnson said.