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Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America's Military Families
By Ellie Kay
Bethany House
PB, 176 pgs. US$9.99
ISBN: 0-7642-2789-0

The hidden heroes

By Joyce Mucci
web posted January 20, 2003

Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America's Military FamiliesThe United States is preparing to go to war with Iraq. Our troops, from all military branches, are standing ready to commit their lives for the cause of freedom. For this we should be thankful and grateful.

But there is another sector of our military forces that is rarely mentioned in the formulaic news stories about war--the soldier's families.

They are, as Ellie Kay, author of a new book Heroes at Home: Help & Hope for America's Military Families, the hidden heroes. Her practical and heartwarming book is a first-class primer for military families, their friends, and extended family members.

Kay knows military life. Married to an Air Force pilot she has eleven moves in thirteen years under her belt and five children to boot.

From the practical (household budgeting, child care and moving tips) to the more personal (communication issues, separations and stress) Kay provides the reader with plenty of common sense information about the nuts-and-bolts of military life.

Having been a military brat myself (my father was in the Air Force for 20 years) I remember seeing Dad off at Andrews Air Force Base and being kissed on the forehead in the early morning hours before he left on TDY (temporary duty). For children, it's rough. For the spouse left behind, it is rougher still.

Consider for a moment if you and your family were given orders to move to another state and set up house (with all that entails), knowing full well that the family could be given orders to move again in say 2-5 years.

Consider also that you are new to a city and your spouse is given orders that he is going to be shipped out for two weeks or months. You're left with children to attend to, a spouse to worry about, and a deep anxiety about how you are going to handle it all.

Kay reassures those faced with separation that one of ways we manage is through the help of "angels with skin on." They are the people who assist young military families with the day-to-day stuff and sometimes, when things are particularly stressful, they take up the slack. God, it seems, always brings someone along side to help.

Heroes at Home also gives us a glimpse into the personal lives of military wives. Woven among the how-to chapters are intimate glimpses into the day-to-day triumphs and struggles of young women facing family responsibilities without the physical presence of their spouse.

These women are tough when they need to be, tender when their little ones are worried about their Daddy being gone for so long, and unflinchingly committed to the military way of life. They know full well that there are no money-back guarantees, and they tackle their commitment head-on with a deep, abiding faith in God and in their country.

These are women with backbone and there's not a whiner in the bunch.

The last page of the book (pg. 205) is a particularly tender "what if" that bears mentioning. Kay asks the reader to imagine she is at a special event, her husband is fully outfitted in his military finest and he raises his glass.

"I propose a toast." He smiles at you [the wife] proudly and holds out his champagne glass. "To her bravery and courage in the face of uncertainty and doubt."

Every American, without question, should raise his or her glass to all of the women who will be left behind as America prepares for war with Iraq. Their job, like that of their husbands, is a high calling that requires all of our support, prayers and assistance.

To all the hidden heroes – here's to you!

These are the people left behind to carry on the other side of military life.

Joyce Mucci has been published in the Kansas City Star, MetroVoice and in e-zines such as The New Australian, Ether Zone and Rightgrrl where she is an Advisory Board Member.

Buy Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America's Military Families at Amazon.com for only $9.99

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