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Military Parents

Military Parents

For most Americans, our military presence overseas is something that they see on the news, but for many, the war in Iraq occupies their thoughts every minute of the day. These are the people who wait while their sons or daughters, husbands or wives are serving in a war zone. It has been said that for every soldier or Marine stationed in Iraq, there are a dozen family members waiting and worrying at home. For these families, this war is a life-altering experience, and every day brings the fear of the knock on the door that could send their lives crashing in around them. Semper Fi Parents is a support group where members whose sons have been deployed help those parents whose kids are going to be shipped out.

Paula and Bob
Paula Zwillinger's son Bob wanted to be a Marine because "they were the best," but like most mothers, the military was not the future she had in mind for her son. As soon as he enlisted, Paula was left in the dark, not knowing anything about basic training or deployment. She started a support group, Semper Fi Parents, while Bob was still in boot camp, so that mothers, like her, could understand life in the military. Bob was deployed to Iraq and served there for only six months before he was killed by an IED at the age of twenty-one. Having a child killed at any age is something from which one never recovers, but Paula's focus is now on Bob's younger brother Greg, who just turned twenty-one and has also enlisted in the Marines. If the war is not over in upcoming months, he, too, will deployed to Iraq.

Ashley and Noah
Starting a family is a special time in every couple's life, and Ashley and Noah are no exception. Ashley spent most of her pregnancy alone -- her husband Noah is in Iraq. Ashley knows the dangers he faces better than most wives since she was a counter intelligence specialist in the US Army until she became pregnant. Scheduled to deploy, Ashley opted out of the military because she was pregnant. Had she not, she would have returned to active duty in Iraq after just three months of maternity leave. She is hoping that Noah will be able to participate in the birth through a satellite hook-up.

Frances and Ben
Ben, a single child raised by a single mother, became a West Point Cadet. He has been deployed twice to Iraq and although he is currently stateside, he can be recalled at any time. Frances channeled all her concern into her poetry. "The Warrior", which will be published next year, is a collection of poems that resonates with everyone who has a loved one at war.

Freedom Calls
Faced with extended tours of duty, front line soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are not able to speak with members of their families for months at a time. Soldiers may now attend and participate in milestone family events such as graduations, births, birthdays and weddings via video conference over the Freedom Calls Network,which enables troops to communicate, free of charge, from their base camps with their families by internet telephone and instant messaging.

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Paula and Bob: When Bob enlisted in the Marines, Paula didn't know what to expect. She formed a support group to help parents understand and deal with military life.View this story
View this storyAshley and Noah: A portrait of a dual military family.
Frances and Ben: Frances has channeled all her fears about her son's deployment into a book of poetry.

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View this storyWaiting: Excerpt from "The Warrior"
Letters: Excerpt from "The Warrior"View this story
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