Joining Forces for Our Sailors
Joining Forces is all about coming together to support our nation’s military families and one way to do that is hearing directly from military families about their experiences.
Adrienne Howard, the spouse of the Commanding Officer of a deployed Guided Missile Destroyer, shares her story of rallying her community to 'adopt' a Sailor and support deployed men and women with cards, letters and care packages:
As the spouse of the Commanding Officer of a deployed Guided Missile Destroyer, I was recently involved in the deployment preparations for our ship families. The Navy does a great job supporting the families so that they can, in turn, support their Sailors. During this time, I couldn’t help thinking: what about the guys and girls who aren’t married? What about the ones who don’t come from strong family backgrounds? Who is going to support them? Who is going to make sure they have something at mail call? Who is going to send them a Christmas card? A birthday card? The crew of the ship is largely young and unmarried, many of them doing their first deployment. Knowing how important little bits of home are to the crew, surely we could figure out a way to get little bits of home to these Sailors.
As I was mulling it over, the Joining Forces initiative popped into my head. Our First Lady has embraced our service members and their families and is actively encouraging the American civilian community to rally around our men and women in uniform. Her nationwide efforts were my light bulb; inspiring me to work on the community level to rally support for the creation of ‘deployment families’ for our single Sailors. I started by writing letters to friends and family asking them to ‘adopt’ a Sailor and support that one young man or woman for the duration of the deployment. I explained that it needn’t be expensive; it just needed to be consistent and to come from the heart. Birthday cards, letters, notes, a care package from time to time. Just little bits of home to let that one sailor know that somewhere out there in America, someone cares that they are far from home protecting our freedom.
The response has been incredible. My letters were sent on to church and civic groups, extended family and friends of friends. Americans with no personal connection to the military have responded with genuine enthusiasm and concern for our Sailors and the desire to do something. They WANT to support our young troops; they WANT to give something back and by adopting our Sailors…they ARE! I am so proud to be an American and a military spouse!
Brad Cooper is Executive Director of Joining Forces in the Office of the First Lady.