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Service & Motherhood: When Duties Collide

Operation Gratitude and Veterans United Home Loans are teaming up to support National Guard troops across the country. Throughout the month of May, Operation Gratitude and VUHL will distribute 7,500 care packages to these men and women who have been mobilized rapidly and frequently over the past year to assist in COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, served at the U.S. Capitol during Inauguration, and assisted in civil unrest. The following blog is part of this initiative.

A recent study funded by Welch’s surveyed 2,000 U.S. moms and found their average workweek clocks in at around 98 hours. That’s the equivalent of two full-time jobs. Most will tell you it’s a labor of love, and while the dedication and sacrifice of that work alone is impressive, the picture changes when service to family meets service to country. 

National Guardsman reading a letter of gratitude.

SSgt Caprice Barnes has served in the California National Guard for seven years. She’s also a single mother to two children and says while military service and parenthood is a tough balancing act, she tries to convey to her children the importance of service and being part of something bigger than themselves.

“It’s not easy, but I wanted to give back. So I just try to tell them (Barnes’ children) that everything is bigger than us. It’s a cause out there that we all have to help with.”

Frequently being called away from home is standard for service members. That separation can put a strain on families who miss out on all kinds of special occasions together like birthdays, holidays, and school events. SSgt Barnes says it’s in times like these that she’s especially thankful for her community of friends who are willing to step in when she can’t be there. 

“I have to try to find someone to watch my kids while I serve my country. I go through my phone and ask my friends [to help out while] I have duty and the majority of them will; they know what I’m doing. It’s about having that good support system.”

The fact is, Moms have to wear a lot of hats, and sometimes they wear uniforms, too.

We know our nation’s military is stronger and better prepared because of these women and that’s why Operation Gratitude is honored to be able to give back to military moms everywhere this May.

National Guard service members receive care packages for Mothers Day.

Through the support of our partners at Veterans United Home Loans, we’re delivering 7,500 care packages to National Guard members who have been mobilized rapidly and frequently over the past year to assist in COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, serve at the U.S. Capitol during Inauguration, and in response to civil unrest. In particular, these care package deliveries also aim to recognize the unique sacrifices of mothers in the military and will honor National Guard moms ahead of and in the days following Mother’s Day

Despite the challenges and sacrifice when duties collide, SSgt Barnes notes it’s the unexpected support she’s received from organizations like Operation Gratitude and their partners that makes all the difference. 

“It means a lot for people to take the time out of their day to thank me for something I signed up for. It’s the little things. I was deployed in 2019, and I don’t have much family, so honestly, the only packages I got were these packages. I cried from a couple of the letters because they were so touching.”

SSgt Barnes adds the pride she feels serving her country and the message she’s able to pass on to her children always wins out. 

“My son will say ‘Mom, I can’t wait to be like you and wear that uniform,’ so, I think they see it.”

National Guardsman holds a letter of gratitude.

Operation Gratitude continues to thank all who serve, especially the dedicated service members on Mothers Day. Find out more about what we are doing during Military Appreciation Month and how you can get involved.

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