Tuesday, February 21, 2012


PV2 Pete's Journey for Help is a look-see at the thoughts and heart of a young soldier who returned to Iowa from deployment to Afghanistan.  He is facing some real struggles integrating into "normalcy:.  His story, while unique, is one that many of the 2,800 that deployed in July of 2010 and returned home the summer of 2011 are experiencing in one form or another.

It'd been over a month since PV2 Pete and I had gotten together.  And we had a lot to catch up on.  Oh, we'd exchanged a few emails and texts but that didn't do much but the scratch the surface on our recent happenings. 

Since our last meeting in mid-January, Pete had experienced some highs and lows.  At least that's what was apparent to me.

Pete's excitability over Rick Santorum's rise in the Republican Presidential polls was evident.  This young Iowa Guardsmen was feeling pride for the effort he put forth in the Santorum surge.  "I'm so happy for Mr. Santorum", said Pete.  "We put in some long days in South Carolina....and we were all hoping people would begin taking notice.  I think they finally have.  I'm looking to see where and when I can volunteer again.  I've never lived through anything like that except when I had bullets flying at my head", he said with a smile. 

As we continued to talk I could see there was something else of concern written on Pete's face.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was sure before our conversation ended, I'd find out.   For the next 15 minutes I was an intent listener.  Pete made me that way.  He had a way in describing minute details and I always relished those moments.  But just when I thought the roll he was on would last for some time, his expression  went cold.         

"Sir, you ever feel like you take two steps forward and three steps back", he started.  I stared at him as I just about spit my coffee back into the cup.  Previous sips of the  Hazelnut blend from Panera Bread had gone down in a soothing way....the recent remark was another matter all unto itself. 

"Pete", I began.  "Pete"....I started again,  "Pete......yeah.  For sure.  We all have.  That's probably why consistency is something we should all strive to attain.  That way the highs are not so high and the lows and not so low.  Why what's up?", I queried. 

"Well....you know how much I've been hoping someone will offer me help in the form of a job or opportunity?  It just hasn't happened.  Waiting, be patient, knocking on doors, making phone calls, sending out resumes....I've tried all types of ways to have that door, so to speak, unlocked.  And nothing happens.  So what I'm saying,  I guess, is that in some parts of my life, I think I'm making some headway...then come the setbacks.  Ya know?"

"Pete, let me share a story with you.....one that I think might be an eye-opener.  All I can say is, we've all most been guilty in holding out that someone will come to our rescue.  But that's a set-up for disappointment.....here's what I mean".             

"Having been brought up in an Asian culture, I believed that having a man in the household was important. I married twice; both marriages ended in divorce. The first man flirted with my housemaid, and the second man loved my money.  Both were unreliable. They brought me misery and heartache.

As years went by, I relied on my only brother, who lived next door. Together we made decisions such as what to do about treating my father’s chronic emphysema. I thought I could count on my brother in the future. Unfortunately, he died suddenly a few months ago.  Now I am left with elderly parents and a sister who suffers from mental illness.  I carry the burden of caring for all my family members.

Since my brother’s death I have come to learn that God is always present when I cry for help. When I make decisions big or small, I pray for guidance.  The Lord not only protects me but also gives me wisdom to handle the struggles of daily life.  Now I no longer worry about finding someone to lean on;  I know I can always rely on God at every moment of my life".

God, can I ask a question?

I looked at Pete and he gave me a nod of understanding.  Not a "whatever" nod, but one that had sunk deep.  But I wasn't done yet...or maybe I should say, God wasn't done yet.....

"Pete, God wants you to know this about him.  Hang onto the verses he wants me to share with you .  Look to them for your help and see if the steps you take become consistent"..... 

My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding—

 indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,

 and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,

 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
   and find the knowledge of God. -Proverbs 2:1-5

P.S. Special kudos to Facebook peep Teri Wagonner in her picture post today.  It was perfect for the message.  



Friday, February 17, 2012


When it comes to awards, military awards especially, you can call me a "homer".  Recently voting was opened for six finalists all vying to be named the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year.  Among the super heroes is a former Iowan, Stephanie Geraghty, formerly from Avoca.  Stephanie is representing the Marine Corps and from the bios I've looked at, she's up against some stiff competition.  The remaining finalists are from the Coast Guard, National Guard, Air Force, Army and Navy.

And the 2012 Winner is?????
Let's hear something from Stephanie so you can become a little more acquainted. 

"I am humbled by this honor and thrilled to share my story, especially the miracle of STROLLER WARRIORS.   My story begins on a farm in Avoca, Iowa, where I was born and raised.  My midwestern values and Catholic faith have helped define me today.  From a young age, sports became my passion and especially RUNNING.  I also play a mean game of Scrabble.  (that's a sport, right?!)   I majored in English Education at the University of Kansas (Rockchalk Jayhawk!)  and hope to teach middle school children someday.  School-based programs dominate my list of volunteer activities, including Adopt-A-School, Big Brothers Big Sisters and assistant coaching.  Additionally, my attention has been devoted to other key causes including distributing groceries to the needy at the Smokey Hill Vineyard Food Kitchen, organizing a Marine softball team at Buckley Air Force Base and serving as the Newsletter Chair for the St. Francis MOMS Group. 

I also worked full-time in Publications at Lockheed-Martin while volunteering and attending graduate school during the evenings.  As a proud Marine Corps wife of eight years, my husband Brian serves as my best friend, my inspiration and my hero.  Together we have endured five deployments and three moves.  We've also been blessed with two wonderful sons, Caden (5) and Cole (2 1/2).  Throughout our lives, both Brian and I have found passion and solace in running.  During our fourth deployment in 2010, I achieved a lifelong goal of completing the Marine Corps Marathon.  Crossing that finish was a defining moment for me, proving I could achieve great thins under great burdens.  Running races has provided a source of focus and accomplishment when I need it most".

Here are some quick facts on Stephanie:

Number of Years as a Military Spouse: 8
Role Model:  My Grandmother, Phyllis Klindt
Favorite Movie:  A League of Their Own
#1 Fan of:  Dessert.....Mmmmmm
Can't Stand:  Snakes
Loves to:  Run, bike and sometimes another run!

And here is what others are saying about Stephanie:

When God made Stephanie Geraghty, he really got it right!  I tell people this all the time.  She has been through five deployments in the time that she has known her Marine.  She wholly exemplifies the spirit of the military spouse.  She not only fearlessly conquers deployments for herself and  for her two boys and husband, but she has also provided a crutch for over 300 women in Jacksonville, N.C. area.  Two years ago, she started a running club. I am nominating Stephanie Geraghty for the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year because she has gone above and beyond the "call" of a military spouse.    

And another testimonial.... I have known Stephanie since her family checked into Camp Lejeune the summer of 2009.  I remember meeting and thinking she was so encouraging and someone who motivates you to be better"  Two years later, I know without a doubt that Stephanie is a born leader and has made not only my life, but countless other's better.  In the past two years, I have seen Steph deal with two big deployments which her oldest son had a difficult time with, two unexpected deaths in the family and receive a life-altering diagnosis for her youngest son.  Though these hardships (all within two years, mind you) would put down even the strongest military wife, Stephanie has been the epitome of encouragement for other military moms.   

I have linked the site to vote for Military Spouse of the Year.  I would encourage you and anyone else you know to cast your vote for Stephanie.  Hey, and even if you're not an Iowan, and a "homer" right alongside me, know that you've voted for a spouse who takes her responsibility seriously.  The great thing is, you can vote more than once.  Our best to you Stephanie!!!




Thursday, February 9, 2012


The Super Bowl victory by the New York Giants and the ensuing victory parade that followed opened a can of worms, so to speak, as to who is deserving and when its appropriate to celebrate.   Not only is this issue relative to New York, it also has some local legs.  Let's first take a look at New York. 

The New York Times offered this to its subscribers on Monday....

"The New York Giants on Tuesday will be showered with confetti and greeted by throngs as they are feted with the city’s most storied honor: a parade through its Canyon of Heroes.

Our troops deserve some of this....
But all the fanfare — the parade this week is the fourth since 2000 to honor a sports team — has touched off anger and unease among some returned Iraq veterans, who are eagerly awaiting their own recognition.

“Everybody recognizes that the Giants deserve a parade,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  But, he added, “If a football team gets a parade, shouldn’t our veterans?”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has long expressed his regret that the United States did not do a better job honoring veterans of the Vietnam War in the 1970s, has cited advice from the Pentagon in deciding it was not appropriate to hold a parade while American soldiers are still fighting in Afghanistan.

But a growing coalition of veterans, elected officials and other public figures are disagreeing, saying it is time to celebrate the men and women who served in Iraq. Leslie H. Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former correspondent for The New York Times and a board member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called the Pentagon’s position “supercilious sensitivity” and “Washington-think.”

“Celebrating the Iraqi vets doesn’t negate a future celebration for the Afghan vets or deny that we’re still at war,” Mr. Gelb said, adding that “if we had to wait to honor our servicemen and women until wars were over, that would take a long time.”

So, how does this impact little old Iowa?  Well....I got to thinking.  Heck, if the question can be raised in New York, why not here?  Haven't we recently seen the return of the largest deployment of Iowa soldiers since World War II?  In all truth, did they receive the welcome home they were deserving?  

As I look back on the departure of my son to Afghanistan in July of 2010 and his return in the summer of 2011 there are a couple of things that impacted me.  In both cases, friends and relatives made up the vast majority of the audiences.  While there was great pomp and circumstance, I've always wondered what a huge throng would have done for the hearts and minds of the soldiers, the families and the community.

New Yorker Paul Rieckhoff called for a parade for veterans to honor them in an appropriate way.  So, why can't we Iowans think the same way?  We are roughly seven months removed from our Iowa Guardsmen coming home.  But in some sense it seems like seven years.  Memories are fading quickly....except that is, for those who were wounded or lost loved ones.

I'm going to offer a few thoughts and hope and pray this moves someone other than little old me to carry a torch.

1.  Is there a company or group of companies that would be willing to help underwrite costs and promote a parade?

2. Are our state leaders willing to step up and serve as a voice for each and every soldier that lives in their district?

3.  Are there organizations, i.e., the Patriot Guard Riders of Iowa and a number more that would be willing to donate their services to such an event.....either leading up to the day or the day itself?

4.  Is there a location/venue that would jump at the opportunity to host a parade and final destination celebration that puts a "cap" to the day?

5.  Are there other like-minded individuals that feel the way I do, that our military "deserves" a parade as a fitting testament to their service?  and are they ready to help make that day possible?

Should you feel this information moves you to get involved, contact me at jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com