Simply put, we don't think about military families enough. We just don't. Can you imagine the sacrifices they make each and every day -- wives who are raising kids for 15-month long stretches while their husbands are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan; women who are missing out on their little ones' milestones while they are in the combat zone?
The one time of year we tend to get it right is the holidays, when we look around, try to give back and think about families who can't be together -- such as families with loved ones serving in the military.
As a small way of giving back and putting the focus where we think it always belongs, we want to salute four amazing women, two of whom serve or served in the military and two others who have sacrificed and are focused on helping others.
I learned about these women through a special program sponsored by the Procter & Gamble brand, Secret. As part of Secret's effort to salute strong women, the brand asked its 500,000 Facebook fans to share personal thank-yous to military men and women and compiled all of those salutes into a flag mosaic that was sent to some 50,000 serving overseas. Secret also saluted women it calls "fearless" and you are about to meet a few of them.
Jennifer Canfield, who says she's been "married to the military" for the past nine years. Her husband was sworn into the Army in 2001, just days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Three children and three deployments later, Jennifer is preparing to spend the holidays with her kids while her husband is in Afghanistan. "You might have seen me," she said. "I'm the mom in the grocery store, wearing my sweatpants, hair pulled back trying to fight my way through the produce with three screaming children in a line behind (me)."
Anita Herrada-Johnson, active duty in the U.S. Air Force for over 18 years, wife and mother. She has been to Iraq twice and to Afghanistan once. She was only recently diagnosed with PTSD and says she's attempting to overcome it so she can continue her career in the Air Force.
Eve Baum, a military wife and entrepreneur who created a way for military families to keep their loved ones close by at all times. Her venture, Militaryhandbag.com, creates custom handbags and accessories from recycled military fatigues. "Our creations are great because they allow women across the world to carry a piece of their soldier close to them, everywhere they go, every day," said Baum.
Brandy Ryan, who dreamed of serving in the Coast Guard when she was a junior in high school. Six years later, she's now studying to be a lawyer, armed with invaluable life skills and experiences to help her -- and other women both in and out of the military. "For women in the military right now, the holiday season," she says, "the biggest thing to remember is you are not alone."
Send this blog and video around to your family and friends and any military families you know. Let me know they are not alone especially during the holidays and let them also know how much we appreciate all they do -- all the time.
How do you support our troops year-round? Chime in below!