I think deployments are different for reservist families. We don't have all the activities and support groups that you would find near a military base with active duty families.
I just happen to come across the Operation We Are Here website. It felt comforting to read it. To know that I wasn't the only one feeling the way I had felt, alone, isolated and forgotten about. Other than close family and friends we hadn't heard from anyone since Jerome had been deployed in January. No visits to our home and help with things we needed help with that you so often see in other communities....active duty communities. Even the recent book written by Mrs. Biden gives a different feel of what a deployment is like to go through.
I was at Target recently and came across her book. I knew immediately that I wanted to buy it for our girls, especially when I opened the book and the little girl's name in the book was Natalie. I stood there in the children's book section reading it. After reading it I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The book definitely did not resemble the kind of deployment we are going through. Needless to say I put the book back on the shelf.
That is why I am thankful places like, Operation We Are Here exist. I know that I am not the only one who has ever felt this way going through a deployment, and just knowing that gives me comfort. I am also very thankful for the resources they have available for military families. That is how I found the program Horses for Heroes and the Blue Star Families program.
I submitted our name to the Horses for Heroes program and it wasn't very long that I heard from the kind woman that runs the River Cities Therapy and Recreation Center. We scheduled a date for our kids to arrive and I told our kids about it that evening. They were very excited.
This deployment has been tough. It has been tough on all of us. I see sadness in all three of our kids but the one I see it the most from is Spencer. He isn't the same boy since his dad left for deployment. I don't see his genuine smile that often and I don't hear his laughter like I used to. It has been a struggle for him. And that is where I am most thankful for this program. Driving to the stables he kept asking if he had to ride and of course I told him yes because I had signed all three of them up. When we arrived everyone there was kind and friendly. All three kids rode the horses, laughed with everyone there, played with the dogs and felt at home. By the time we left they felt like family. The kids even said that in the car on the way home. Spencer talked all the way home along with Natalie and Katie (something that he doesn't do alot of either). I was happy because that evening the warmth and kindness that was shown to me and my children was beyond amazing. I had seen Spencer laughing and smiling, talking with everyone there about his dad and even joking around with them when he didn't want to ride the horse...especially when they told him he'd have to wear the pink helmet (he and Katie traded because there was NO WAY he was going to wear a pink helmet). On the ride home, the sound of all three kids talking about their evening and getting to ride the horses filled our conversations. The deployment didn't fill their conversations, rather the wonderful evening and the kindness that was shown filled it instead. I am beyond thankful to the woman running this program. I hope that she will know how much this meant to our kids.
While we were there I was told that she had just signed up to be a part of the Horses for Heroes program and that we were actually the first family to use the program.
Thank you River Cities Therapy and Recreation Center for the wonderful evening you gave my children. Thank you for their smiles you gave them, it was good to see the deployment far from their throughts that evening.
Katie was the first of my kids to ride a horse. She was a little nervous at first but warmed up to it fast. In the end she was the one out of the three of them who did the best.
Then it was Natalie's turn. Anyone that knows her knows that this is what she has always wanted to do. She has loved horses since she was two years old. She was excited to get to ride a horse.
It took her a while to get the hang of how to sit on a horse. She kept sliding over to the left of the saddle. Eventually she got it.
Then it was Spencer's turn....after of course he traded helmets with Katie.
He is ducking his head here (what he usually does when I try to get a picture of him)....sorry to say Spencer but you were on a horse in an open field....I don't think you can hide that much.
This.....this is his genuine smile. I was excited to see it.
He was talking about his dad and the deployment to someone here.
And if ever there was a picture that he looks like Jerome in....it would be this one. Jerome gives this same look a lot...exactly.
Even the horse was having a good time...
River Cities is a complete volunteer program. The kids talked about wanting to go help and be a volunteer, they were excited about it. I promised them that we would, they still ask every once in a while. We've been gone a lot this summer, between summer camps, a trip to the beach with my husband's parents, swimming in the pool...time has gotten away from me. I need to check into the time and day again so that I can take my kids to help work at this wonderful place.