As we approach this holiday season, it is important to express our empathy for our service members, veterans and their families. Many of them know nothing but war and separation during a time when most are celebrating communion and fellowship with family and friends. As a veteran, and as a spouse of a military veteran, the emotions of anxiety and uncertainty are all too familiar. Some of you may be aware of my story, but I am merely half of another –  my greatest support system, best friend and the father our 3 beautiful children, Cedric. These are his words:

All service members become accustomed to sacrifice and selfless service during their time as valued members of the military. As a service member, I quickly became used to being away from family during the holidays. Each fall, before Thanksgiving, the uncertainty of family visits and travel was thrust upon me. I did not know whether I would be working through the holidays, remotely deployed, or hopefully… on vacation leave. This uncertainty became another part of the personal sacrifice required to ensure that the mission, whatever it may be, could be completed.

Depending on my mission or the geographic location of my duty station, I was never guaranteed to be home for Thanksgiving, or any holiday for that matter.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was not going to change and the impact would have a greater effect on me as I became older and had a family of my own.

During my deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom  I experienced the sacrifice of being away from my new family, my wife and our baby boy.  Although stressful, it was also personally rewarding, allowing me take stock in those relationships which are most important in life – family.

I have been separated from the military for more than 8 years. But because of that experience, I make certain to treasure family traditions and appreciate the most valuable commodity of all – time.

As we think about what the holiday season means, let us us not only be thankful for our own family and friends, but also for the 1% of American service members wondering whether they will be able to spend time with their family this Thanksgiving.

I leave you with this –

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us; and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips and shows itself in deeds.”

– Theodore Roosevelt, Thanksgiving Day, 1901


Lachelle Cato

Development Specialist

AmeriCorps VISTA

Code of Support Foundation

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