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Ellie Kay: 'Heroes at Home'

Ten years ago, Bob was an active duty F-117 stealth fighter pilot and Ellie was home with their seven children, ages six to twenty.  Five were living at home at the time.  Today Ellie and Bob have one left at home and all the others are college graduates or on their way to a degree.  Two of their children are serving in the military with the last one on his way. Only one percent of the American population (2.3 million) has the responsibility of protecting the rights and freedoms of the other 99 percent of us.  “My hope is that…all of us learn how to be better patriots by not only supporting those who serve our country but also by learning how to better understand and support their families,” says Ellie.  She says behind every service member is a family or a team.  Without this support, the service member couldn’t be as focused as he or she needs to be.  “When they can concentrate on their mission, there are fewer accidents.  With fewer accidents, there is less loss of life,” says Ellie.

Ellie remembers the days of multiple deployments throughout the years.  As soon as the troops deploy, the children get sick, the computer crashes and the appliances go on the blink.  Many of us think of deployments as a time when a member departs for an extended period of time to some far-off exotic land.  Sometimes a deployment is two-weeks or a year long.  “I had confidence that our family would survive those continued separations, and we did, even though it didn’t feel like it at times,” says Ellie. 

One of the ways they managed was through the help of people who put their faith into action and came to the rescue.  The daily routines, like mowing the lawn and cooking dinner, threatened to be Ellie’s downfall.  “Doing the single mom thing while worrying about my husband’s safety created so much tension that the thought of plowing through the week without help was almost too much to bear,” she says.  In these recent times of national concern, many are asking how they can reach out in practical ways to help the heroes at home. 


  1. Phone calls and texts.  Initially after a deployment, there are usually a lot of phone calls.  Keep them brief and to the point.  Be mindful that sometimes people will want to talk and other times they won’t. 
  2. Visits.  If you are related, your initial reaction may be to go and help, which may be exactly what the family needs.  However, ask first.
  3. Keep the cards and letters coming.  Make a weekly reminder to text, call or send a note.  Don’t expect or require a response from your friend or family member.
  4. Send gifts of support.  Make a coupon booklet for free babysitting, meals, cookies, coffee dates, running errands, etc.
  5. Prayer.  Organize a group of friends to pray each week.  Drop a note to the service member that people back home are praying.

Ellie says there are some links people can use to help military families in their community and overseas.
www.TreattheTroops.org: the “Cookie Lady” Jeanette Cram can organize cookie bakes for troops overseas.  Tax deductible donations can help with postage.  They have shipped almost 3 million cookies since 1990.  www.OperationShoeBox.com pairs up troops and teachers as a way of allowing school children to learn geography and reach out to troops overseas.  www.OperationGratitude.com has local assembly days where you and your family can help put together care packages.  www.MilitaryOneSource.mil supports every phase of military life including deployment, parenting, financial management, education, child care, etc.

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