JUST CHERYL: Catalyst Connecting with Military Families

Less than 1% of Americans are protecting the rest of us so we can enjoy the freedoms we have.  Each week one more row is started at Arlington to bury our heroes. Somewhere there is a military wife, husband, mother or father who has sacrificed so much for us by staying home so others can serve.   I watched the  Oprah Thursday show (today on DVR)  on military families and the lack of personal support and it affected me deeply.  Take the time to watch the video.  I confess I was tearful through some of it.  This is just not right.

I and my children  were the typical Vietnam family with their Dad in the Marines.  He did two tours in Vietnam and one in Okinawa from an 18 month tour to 13 months.  In between every 6 months he went somewhere. We did this in a divided country.  When he retired we had spent no more than six months at any one time together.    Our children grew up knowing Dad’s job was to be a Marine and our job was to keep the home fires burning.  We are very proud of what he and our family did and our military tradition.   And I, of all people, know what it was like to be the chief cook, bottle washer, plumber, mom and dad, and support income producer. Beth was born on the day her Dad’s camp was blown sky high.  He didn’t see his daughter until she was 1 year old.    Military takes care of military and somewhere along the line after his retirement, life changes and moves I forgot this.

We have had a nephew and niece, Mike & Lisa,  actively serve in the Army. They have seen injured friends and lost friends as we did.  Dave has served and has a grandson serving in the Navy.  When you hear the heart-wrenching stories of families who are facing multiple deployments alone and those that are injured it breaks your heart. The divorce rate is high, the depression issues are above national statistics and we hear about the suicide rates.  Perhaps a knock on the door and an introduction could make  the difference.  They are hurting and they are simply looking for some day to day personal connection; someone to be there for them as they are for us.

 When our military are injured there are no party labels.  They bleed red, white and blue.  Pain and injuries know no political party.   And you may think slapping the soldier on the back at the airport is a show of support but there is no one slapping the wife or the children on the back saying we appreciate their service.

Over the next month my company will create a program called Catalyst Connect (using Jeanne’s idea of a name from a  newsletter template)  that will help military families one family at a time, starting with local community efforts in Raleigh and surrounding communities.  We will develop a program that will help others in professional practices to also reach out to provide services (a bit of arm twisting never hurt).   We will offer ideas and suggestions.

We will ask family and friends to help military families by personal connection.  I am going to ask our family  to work together to establish a personal connection with some families in their respective area either through our own contacts, churches, etc.  Socialization and friendship are desperately needed.   Finding people in your area who need a friend, a break, a spa treatment or even a job doesn’t hurt!  I used to focus on hiring military wives first.   I will be contacting the military units in Raleigh to see what connection programs they have. 

Catalyst will utilize our marketing division to help spread the message.  We will want to hear from you and what you have done.  We will blog, tweet and email if we have to. Catalyst will utilize its Catalyst Care program for this purpose this year.  I am asking the lawyers that I have come to know and trust to utilize their firms to help military families anyway they can.  I will ask every business person I know to find someone to help.   And I am personally asking my family and friends to make this happen.   Catalyst Connect will connect with military families one family at a time so we can truly help!

I guess these past months I have been trying to find something that represents me, this family, and my values and the values of Catalyst.  I am not sure this isn’t something we can all feel good about.  We owe so much to the few who bear the greatest burden.  I will blog about how we are doing and asking for all ideas and suggestions.  Then together we can right a wrong and make a difference. 

Email cjleone@lawfirmcoach.com for more information or ideas!