By Sarah Greer, WTC Stratcom
There are always surprises at the AW2 Symposium. Today at lunch I met three AW2 moms who made quite an impression on other delegates—they refer to themselves as Larry, Curly, and Moe.
Barbara Appel, Denise Mettie, and Mary Tallouzi all cared for their children—Soldiers who sustained severe injuries in the line of duty. They’d met each other loosely in wounded warrior circles—sometimes in person, sometimes over the phone. All three were surprised to hear each other’s names at the Symposium registration table and even more surprised when they were all assigned to the Family issues focus group.
“It’s always nice going to these events, because you get to meet old friends,” said Denise.
The others nodded emphatically. “It’s easier going through the discussions in our focus group when you know the background of the other group members,” Barbara said.
“It’s also surprising to see the diversity of injuries other Families in our group experienced. I’m really taken by the different Families,” Mary added, noting that all of their warriors had similar experiences.
As we finished our tiramisu, these three ladies taught me a lot about the unique challenges facing caregiver parents—being away from a spouse and other children while the servicemember recovers, missing major Family events, and realizing the emotional impact on the Family’s other children. I also began to understand the value of peer support for caregivers—how much it helps to have someone to talk to about the challenges and frustrations of supporting a son or daughter who becomes a wounded warrior.
“I’d like to see more networking among Families,” said Denise. “Besides my son, there are lots of other severely injured Soldiers in Washington State—I could be a good resource for Families just starting this journey.”
This week is an opportunity to affect change, for these moms and for all the Symposium delegates. They’re working through tough issues and talking about the challenges they’ve faced, and they’re also making recommendations on how the Army can improve warrior care.
But tonight these AW2 moms will let their hair down at the San Antonio Missions baseball game with other Symposium delegates and Families. One word of warning to the rest of the group—don’t get between these three and the fun!