SAN ANTONIO- With thousands still stationed overseas many military families face hardships everyday. That's especially true for military children who may deal with challenges of separation and loss of a parent currently deployed. But, there is a program that is helping to ease the strain for children.
The Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program has expanded to offer a program geared towards military children. The volunteers help fill the void of a parent serving overseas.
“He did Korea for a year, home for six months, Iraq for six months, home for a year and now Afghanistan for 14 months,” explained Jessie De Leon as she spoke of her husbands deployments.
It’s a tough life for the men and women who serve our nation as they fight to defend our freedom, and in times of war. But it's just as challenging for the family members who are left behind to cope with their absence.
Linda De Leon is one of those children affected.
She said, “I'm kind of scared because he would go off base and just walk through the towns of Afghanistan and he could get shot”.
Her father is currently serving in Afghanistan leaving her mom to temporarily handle both mom and dad roles. But, then Linda’s mom heard about the big brother, big sister mentoring program specifically geared towards military children.
Jessie De Leon explained, “They said would he like a big brother and I said actually that would be quite great because he's having a hard time with this deployment”.
The parents get some help from trained volunteers while the children get another great role model.
“I wanted somebody there like a big brother, not a dad replacement, but somebody that would help him take his mind off of it by going and doing things that he likes to do,” explained Jessie.
For Damian Medina, serving as a big brother is a rewarding experience since he knows he is making a difference, not only in a young child's life, but in a sense partnering with men and women in uniform who are parents.
“I can't take his place, but knowing that I can be that positive role model for him, is so important. I think he needs it,” said Medina.
For more information on enrolling a child in the Big Brother- Big Sister mentoring program, or to serve as a mentor visit big mentor.org.