By Polli OgilvieJanuary 9, 2013
DOHA, Qatar - I remember thinking how often we look, but never see...we listen, but never hear...we exist, but never feel...A house is only a place. It has no life of its own. It needs human voices, activity and laughter to come alive. Erma Bombeck
Camp As Sayliyah is only a place, but the people here give it a voice, with activity and laughter that bring it to life. Being away from home during the holidays is not always easy and this is why it is so important to develop a healthy perspective and focus on your role within your camp family.
According to Army Chaplain (Maj.) William Wehlage of the Areas Support Group-Qatar, all the events during the season play an important part in the morale of this tight-knit community. "Winter is the darkest season of the year. I think that's why we celebrate the most light-filled holiday at this time. Sure, separation during the holidays brings stress, but CAS is a family."
To come together as a family requires a shared sense of purpose that can serve as a catalyst for a healthy life at home and in the community. These shared sense of purpose help families near and far stay emotionally connected.
"The Community Activity Center is our place of worship while away from home," said Lt. Col. Joseph Harvey, Deputy Commander, ASG-QA. "It is important to have these activities that bring everyone together. It builds a sense of community and a shared common ground. While we are deployed, the people here are our family and our home away from home."
"Christmas is very personal to me," said Staff Sgt. Ortland Meadows, intelligence noncommissioned officer, ASG-QA. "It's not about the gifts. It's about coming together outside of work and looking out for each other. You never know how much influence you have on other people's lives."
Life does not stop during the holidays. If anything it speeds up. Families need to recognize the impact of separation on both deployed and non deployed members.
"Deployments don't break families, they reveal what they already are," said Wehlage. "Prayer will strengthen your family...when talking to your loved ones on the phone, pray together. Yes, on the phone! God, who is everywhere, will hear you and bring enormous comfort to you both."
"Families that pray together stay together...even when they are apart."
Reach out as a family to those people who helped you during your deployment. Give them a call; write a note or take time to visit. Enjoy life and do the things that family members enjoy; keep the voices, activity and laughter alive.