For many Davis residents, the wars of recent years are a foreign issue not affecting their daily lives. For those with close relatives serving in the military, there is a support group helping to comfort them.
The Yolo Military Families group met Monday night at Black Bear Diner. The group was founded almost 10 years ago by Cindy Schulze, whose son was in the Marines at the time.
Bob Glynn, a former Marine, and whose son Matt flew a fighter pilot in the war in Iraq, was one of the first participants of the group.
“The group started to form as a casual meeting of people,” Glynn said. “There were a couple of support the troop rallies, which helped meet other military families.”
The group meets about six times a year, and have a yearly fundraiser in the fall to raise money to send troops packages.
Linda Smith, who joined the group in 2006, now acts as the coordinator. Her son was deployed to Iraq twice, and she feels the war is completely different from the perspective of a family member.
“There is emotional sacrifice you have to deal with day to day when they are gone,” Smith said. “You carry a stress daily about if they will come home.”
The intention of the group is not just to provide comfort though.
“[It is] a place to come and brag about our kids,” Smith said.
Joni Klein is in a similar situation. Her son Matthew works in intelligence and helps train Iraqis, which made him realize Americans and Iraqis are similar. She feels the group helps support her a great deal too.
“It’s been wonderful to have people in the same situation you are in,” Klein said. “They are almost like family.”
While members of the group have close connections to troops serving in the military, for many Americans it is a foreign issue. Members of the group believe there are a few things many people do not realize about members of the military.
“They teach them a lot of respect for each other,” Klein said. “[Also], they come back as a hero.”
For Glynn, there is a different issue he feels is important that is going unnoticed.
“[People] realize they are in harms way, but they don’t realize these kids are coming back and can’t find jobs,” he said. “Some have medical problems and have families; they need jobs.”
Glynn believes that as more troops are withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, the unemployment rate is going to keep increasing because of the veterans looking for jobs.
He is grateful however, that no one within the group has lost a family member while serving in the recent wars.
The group is appreciative of the community’s support, including Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) who lends them a classroom to help pack boxes and The Grad where the group’s annual fundraiser is usually held.
Even though it started as a Davis exclusive group, it is now open to anyone within Yolo County.
Smith highly recommends anyone who has a sibling, child or other close relative serving in the military to join the group. The meetings usually take place at Black Bear Diner.
“Support the troops,” Smith said. “To show [them] the people at home care.”
ZANDER WOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.