We were happy to return to the place where it all started. The place where Zachary found answers to his questions about military service through research and conversations with his sergeant. It is hard to believe it has been close to a year since he came to us with a plan to enlist in the Massachusetts National Guard. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia, pride, and curiosity when revisiting the university he left behind to become an American soldier.
After AIT, Zachary returned to Bridgewater State University to study elementary education and communications. And he has embraced campus life in full force. In addition to attending full-time with the benefits of the tuition and fee waiver support afforded to those who serve, he is also an initiated brother of Sigma Pi that supports men’s mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Gaining a Blue Star bestie
As we sat down to enjoy a complimentary lunch at the campus dining hall, I heard ding! Glancing at my phone, I noticed a message from an unfamiliar name through Facebook messenger. As I begin to read her words a wave of emotions rush over me. Her introduction begins with thanking me for writing about our son’s journey to becoming an American soldier. Politely, she asks me about his experience with basic and AIT training, because her son will soon follow in similar footsteps.
My new friend describes the range of emotions she is feeling and so much of what she describes is exactly what I felt close to a year ago. I had so much to share and I knew it would be best to start at the beginning. Since our connection, Zachary has been able to share with her and her son about what life is life as a soldier and civilian. Through our opportunities to chat, laugh and shed a tear, we dig deep. Feelings surface that have us experiencing heartfelt emotions towards the ones we love and cherish who proudly serve in the United States military.
As our friendship continues to strengthen, I find myself sharing tips and strategies that helped me to get through the tough times. Not only did I experience loneliness and worry about what our soldier was enduring during basic training, but I held on tight to his self-confidence and personal quest for success.
My thoughts reminded me that if he could make it, I could make it too.
Some of the important tips I shared with her include:
- Sandboxx’s letter writing service: https://www.sandboxx.us/letters
- Fort Jackson’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fortjackson
- Journaling: The importance of having a place where she could express her thoughts in a personal and private space.
As I closed my reply message to her, I smiled. Smiles all around because we were able to spend the day with our son and because I was gaining a friend that I could count and lean on just like she could with me. As our Blue Star motherhood connection continues to grow, there is so much I would like to share but for now I will listen.