Photo Credit: iVillage
Spend time with a boy or girl whose mom or dad is deployed and it’s impossible not to feel moved – and yes, next to impossible to hold back the tears. That’s how I felt after meeting Jimmy Blain, a fourth grader at White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, Virginia. Jimmy and his classmates were invited by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President, to the Vice President’s Residence for an event designed to put the spotlight on Jimmy and other boys and girls whose parents are currently deployed.
Dr. Biden, who has teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama, to raise awareness about the sacrifices military families make, told the kids that her son, Beau Biden, a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and the current Delaware Attorney General, spent a year in Iraq. He was away from his family during Christmas, she added, as she held up a picture of Beau with one of his children the day he returned. “And so I know what it is like to have someone in your family whose deployed,” she said as the kids, all dressed in their finest outfits, looked on.
Watch here until the end for a smile from Jimmy that is guaranteed to melt your heart:
This is Jimmy’s third deployment with his dad being gone. Think about it -- Jimmy is only nine years old, which means about three of those nine years have been spent apart from his dad. “He’s kind of an old hand at it now,” said his mom, Tina Blain, a mother of four and a former U.S. Army Lieutenant who flew Blackhawk helicopters. "Every once in a while I get the ‘Well, can’t you call daddy?” she said. “But they seem to get it that this is what he is supposed to be doing."
Jimmy’s dad, Maj. James Blain, Jr., who is currently in Afghanistan, read a book to Jimmy and his classmates through the United Through Reading program -- a program that makes it possible for deployed parents to read storybooks to their kids aloud on DVD. According to the group, in a survey, more than 75% of people who responded said the recordings reduced their children’s anxiety about their mom or dad being deployed.
When Jimmy’s dad showed up on the TV screen and told his kids how much he loved and missed them, you could see the smile in Jimmy’s eyes while his younger brother, who is two years old, shouted, “Dada, Dada.” To wife Tina, Major Blain said, “I know it hasn’t been easy with all these deployments. I truly believe that you have the hardest job between the two of us." We agree, Maj. Blain!
Asked what it was like to see his dad reading on TV, Jimmy told us, “I liked it a lot.” How does it feel to have a dad protecting all of us? “It’s pretty cool,” he added.
“For the other children in the class, this created awareness of what... Jimmy was going through and his family,” Dr. Biden said in her first exclusive interview with iVillage. “And I loved how the children in the class said they would pay special attention to him so they got the message."
What Jimmy is most excited about is his dad is actually expected home for the holidays. “I’m really excited because whenever he’s deployed, he usually doesn’t come back for Christmas,” Jimmy told us.
Now Jimmy is counting the days until his dad returns and they can go skiing. Jimmy, we’re counting the days for you too!
Connect with other military families here on our message boards in the iVillage community and chime in below with a message to Jimmy and other boys and girls like him.
For more, watch this video to see how troops are being honored throughout the holidays at the White House and at the Naval Observatory, the offiical residence of the Vice President.