Yes, the name of this website is a mouthful. I blame the military for that: I’m just worn out from being bombarded with — and perpetually befuddled by — military acronyms. So I went in the opposite direction: wordy and long, but clear in purpose.
The Strength Behind the Strong will spotlight imaginative and useful ideas for Americans who have loved ones in the military. We’ll tackle everything from the practical (tips on mailing care packages) and the patriotic (how to dispose of worn-out flags) to the celebratory (welcome-home party ideas).
These five words — The Strength Behind the Strong — convey a powerful truth I’ve learned during seven years as a military spouse: The friends and families left behind by our troops do so much valuable behind-the-scenes work keeping relationships intact, staying brave in the face of danger, and sending joy and hope overseas in care packages, letters, and emails. Unfortunately, sisters and grandfathers and neighbors don’t get medals for their everyday heroics.
But if they did, I’d nominate these people for The Strength Behind the Strong medals:
- My husband’s best friend, Max Nuki, for driving up to Fort Drum, New York, in the middle of winter during my husband’s first deployment to Iraq because Kyle asked him to check on me. Max brought a few bottles of red wine and — unprompted — unclogged the bathtub drain. That’s true friendship.
- My mom, Betty Hofmann, who stepped in for Kyle one Valentine’s Day by sending me a big box of candy and this poem: “Roses are red, violets are blue. If Kyle were around, he’d send these chocolates to you.” She understands better than most the stress of military separations: She had me while my dad was serving in Vietnam.
- Matt Conklin, my garbage collector in Watertown, New York. During Kyle’s two deployments — one 12 months, one 15 months — Matt pushed my empty garbage can all the way to the top of my driveway, whether it was sunny, rainy, or snowing, as was most often the case. That little gesture made me smile every single week because it was so thoughtful — and because I always wondered if the neighbors thought I was having an affair with him to get such great service.
The list of people who have supported my husband — and me in the process — goes on and on. And those great people are one of the reasons I’ve started The Strength Behind the Strong website. We’ll share ideas, lend support, and give a big pat on the back to all of you who stand proudly behind your friends and family in the military.