By Staff Sgt. Leah Kilpatrick, Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler, and Bethani CrouchMay 11, 2018
WASHINGTON -- While every day should be a day to celebrate mothers, Mother's Day offers an official opportunity to thank moms for the often-unacknowledged hard work and sacrifice they make for their families.
This legacy of motherhood is especially clear in the Army, where many service members wear the dual hats of Soldier and mom, or often are the sole support for a family while a spouse is stationed far away. Here, we highlight some of the stories of our incredible Army mothers.
'I'M BLESSED TO HAVE HER WITH ME:' MOTHER, SON SERVE DEPLOYMENT TOGETHER
One of the most challenging parts of deployment for many Soldiers is being away from friends and family. Soldiers and family members alike often lean on others who share a similar experience during long periods apart.
But one family in the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team is sharing an experience that's making their deployment just a little bit easier.
Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, both assigned to Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, deployed to Kuwait from Fort Hood, Texas, for nine months last year in support of U.S. Army Central.
Wolfe, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, began her Army career as an enlisted lab technician 24 years ago, and now serves as a physician assistant. Her son, Kameron Wideman, was born in 1996 at her first duty station in Fort Lewis, Washington. Brought up in a devoted military household, it was no surprise when he enlisted in the Army, Wolfe said.
"I was good in school, but I didn't take it seriously enough, but the Army was always my fallback plan," said Wideman, a behavioral health technician. "I initially wanted to join just so I could help people. That's why I got into the medical field."
What started out as just a potential option won his heart, Wideman said, has now turned into plans for taking classes and completing the prerequisites to submit a packet for the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioning Program, just as his mother did.
Meanwhile, Wolfe and Wideman are tending to the physical and mental well-being of the Soldiers deployed here. Wolfe said that, while her focus is on her job and taking care of the Soldiers, the mom in her can't help but feel some of the same concerns stateside parents feel about having a child deployed.
"As a mother, you still have that deep-down concern of 'What if something happens to my baby? What am I going to do?'" she said. "But I can't let him see that, because I need him to focus on his job and what I need him to do, and that's to provide mental health, which is something that is very much needed in this day and age."
Wideman said he enjoys having his mother right down the road. "I'm blessed," he said. "I'm blessed to have her with me."
Echoes of the same drive, motivation, dedication and discipline that exemplify Wolfe's career path are evident in Wideman's.
"We cross paths every now and then," she said. "I don't see him all the time. I let Kameron be Kameron. We are passionate about the military. This is our Army. My husband is a first sergeant, and I used to be an E-7 before I switched over. So that leadership is instilled in both of us, and that comes out in the way we raise our kids -- the leadership, the discipline, the morale, the ethics, everything. This is the way you're supposed to live."
ARMY MOM, GOLD STAR WIFE TURNS SACRIFICE INTO SERVICE
The role of the military mom is one of selflessness and courage. It's a job that does not pay or come with any awards.
It often means early mornings, late nights, and frequently going weeks and months without a partner nearby. It regularly includes playing both mother and father roles, both good cop and bad, being a counselor, provider, and director or a combination of all three. Coupled with the seamless transition of being firm to the gentle voice of love, being a military mom is no easy task.
However, this is a role that countless men and women have taken on without complaint or hesitation -- and one that Krista Simpson Anderson knows particularly well. Anderson, Gold Star Spouse and wife of an active duty Green Beret, was recently named the 2018 Army Spouse of the Year by Military Spouse magazine.
"As Army Spouse of the Year, I am honored to have the opportunity to not only represent Special Forces spouses but all Army spouses," said Krista. "It's very humbling being considered for overall Military Spouse of the Year. This journey has been humbling. As I read many of the profiles, I felt so honored to be a part of such selfless servants."
Krista serves her community through The Unquiet Professional, an organization she co-founded, of volunteers serving Gold Star Families and veterans in times of need.
Two of her smallest supporters are also among her biggest fans, two sons ages 8 and 6, who are proud of their mother and the example she sets.
"I am so happy for my mom, and I want to congratulate her," her eldest son said. "She works hard for us at home and other military families."
Krista's journey as a military spouse and mom has not been easy. Her first husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson, was killed in an improvised explosive attack in Afghanistan in 2013.
"When I was sitting on the tarmac, I remember waiting for them to bring his flag-draped casket off the plane. I looked over to see all of our family and friends crying, and I decided that I will show them that I would be okay," said Krista. "I didn't know how strong I could be until that moment."
From that strength, Krista relied on her faith and the support of others to gather up the pieces and continue to seek out the peace that she felt her family deserved. She has since remarried, and is now the wife of a current active-duty Green Beret.
Krista has applied herself to providing friendship and support through her organization to developing strength among the spouses with whom she meets and instilling faith and resilience in her children.
"My priority is teaching them that no matter what situations you go through in life, lead with your faith, and grace will follow. Michael's legacy plays a major role in our lives every day," Krista said.
"[My husband] and I teach our boys to treat and care for others the way our faith teaches us. Strength, resilience and kindness got us through the most difficult of times," Krista said.
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR FOR ARMY MOTHER AND SON
Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Franco and Sgt. Sergio Franco already have a special distinction of serving in the military together as a mother and son. But in August 2017, they got to take part in another unique opportunity -- receiving rank on the same day.
Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Franco, 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command, was promoted to the rank of sergeant major and pinned her son Sgt. Sergio Franco, 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, on the same day.
When she got the exciting news that not only would she receive her official promotion to the highest enlisted pay grade, but that it would also be the same day as her son, Rebecca immediately began planning a trip for the special occasion.
"I am extremely proud to serve my country and am very humbled to know that my son is following in my footsteps," Rebecca said. "I never imagined something this amazing could happen to us."
Rebecca has been serving in the Army as a CBRN Soldier for 23 years. The Rochester, New York native raised her family as a single parent and says that being a military mother is a unique experience.
"My life was really hard being a single parent in the military," Rebecca said. "I honestly didn't want this life for him, but he absolutely loves what he does."
Sergio, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, joined the Army in 2011 after studying forensics at the University of North Carolina. He decided to join the military for the experience and looks to his mother for advice on dealing with the challenges of being a Soldier.
"Being able to have her (my mother) as my mentor allows me to be above the curve and allows me to separate myself from my peers," Sergio said.
Since joining the Army, he has also started a family. Sergio married his wife Brittany in 2014, and they had their first child shortly after.
"I know how my mother had to work to ensure she could provide a better life for me and how difficult it must have been to leave me at times to serve our nation," Sergio said. "I am a father now with my own family and if I ever had to leave them, it would be the toughest obstacle I would ever have to face."
Sergio is undecided whether he will make the Army a career, but he aspires to be as successful as his mother. "If I decided to stay in, my mother is where I'd like to see myself," Sergio said.
(Editor's Note: This piece is a compilation of three separate stories. The links to each full, separate story are listed below.)