Messages Home: Making lemonade in Alabama

July 14, 2009 by

Dear Sisters, Agregees and Associates,

Note: For those who are waiting to read about my contacts within Fort Rucker; scroll down to bypass the personal, if you choose. Printing and routing this may be of interest to Sisters unable to access e-mail.

My permanent address is 923 S. Mound, Concordia as of 6/18, but I have been at Fort Rucker, Ala., Aviation Army, since 6/24, until 8/9. This past Thursday began the third of six weeks serving the soldiers, spouses, families and staff here.

It IS hot and humid, but I packed my Sri Lankan weight clothes, and have a sweater for the air-conditioning (which might be C-O-L-D at times).

My motel room is one mile from the fort’s one gate. I am so close that I sat on the front stoop of the motel to watch and hear the booms and cracks of the fireworks display at Fort Rucker last weekend. It saved me fending the traffic, and using the lawn chair I purchased just for the occasion. The chair? Returned to Dollar General, unused.

My one room in the Econo Lodge in Daleville now has specialty corners: food center with the apt. size micro and fridge, closet, laundry and drying center, reading, praying, and desk center. Thomas Merton would probably say it is the ritz. Be assured: I am not suffering. Beats homelessness, huh!

On my assignments to Germany and Anchorage I was not limited to distance I could travel on weekends. Here, since I am solo, I “might” be able to travel 1 to 1-1/2 hours from Fort Rucker on weekends. Oh well, what are six weeks on the time line of life? As you would guess, there are multiple places to (ad)venture on a weekend in this area: ocean, Atlanta, Montgomery, Birmingham, etc. I am, as a result, making lemonade from the lemons. Thanks God for books to read; for being able to have access to the fitness center and library, etc. I am enjoying a weekly trip to a farmers market in the town of Enterprise — 12 mi from Daleville to get local peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers. I do not have enough fridge space for cantaloupe, corn or watermelon. I would love to try the white peas, but they need to be prepared on the top stove.

SERVICE WITHIN FORT RUCKER:
This is a large and expansive installation since it is the training ground for many kinds of helicopter pilots. The same families and soldiers rotate in and out of here multiple times because of the levels of training. Soldiers who were here as trainees may now be the trainers.

My position here is a year round position which began only in January 2009. We rotate every six weeks. I was welcomed with open arms upon my arrival, and consistently have staff come to inform me of events taking place in the course of that day or upcoming week where my presence is encouraged.

In walking through the reception line at a promotion just this Friday, the newly promoted Command Sergeant responded to my name/role intro with: “You are the roving counselor!” He knows, and got the memo!

Early this same Friday a.m., a group of 88 soldiers returned from Iraq. They were welcomed in a short, yet uplifting and solemn ceremony in the presence of family: spouses, children, siblings, parents; or no one, after being in transit for 50+ hours with no clean-up or bed. I cannot even begin to imagine the level of feelings/emotions experienced by individual groupings.

Saturday, all soldiers and support groups were needed at an all-day gathering at the nearby lake to begin neutralizing and shifting in the presence of peers and other families. A big day at the lake, which merited my presence.

Monday/Tuesday continues the re-entry with input, discussion re: family, shifts from the battlefield to the family. This input is provided to soldiers and families in separate groups. I will be present for this.

FYI: Soldiers are to not drive a vehicle for the first 24 hours of being in the USA. Why? Depending upon the assignment a soldier may drive either too slow (still looking for hidden weapons); or too fast (to skirt what is coming toward him/her).

I meet with about 10 groups of soldiers each week who are either coming into Fort Rucker or leaving Fort Rucker to let each one know how persons in my position may assist and support each of them, spouse, family, children. This past week during a briefing with a group who is leaving by the end of this coming week, an 8-year-old daughter accompanied her mom to this session. The daughter asked if she could get help for her anger. Mom laughed. Another soldier responded by saying: “She probably doesn’t want to move.” Mom said: “No, she’s fine with the move.” She did not understand my message, nor heard her daughter. I continue to pray that the child gets her needs met.

Be assured, each of you is with me. Your prayer for right presence and responses at the right moment is welcome.

Loretta Jasper
ljasper@csjkansas.org

Comments

3 Responses to “Messages Home: Making lemonade in Alabama”

  1. Faye Huelsmann on August 2nd, 2009 12:51 pm

    I wish you the best in your work. I get alot of angry kids in my work. No single answer or intervention works best, as you know. It’s just good to give them support if there isn’t more you can do.

  2. Jodi Creten, CSJ on July 19th, 2009 10:46 am

    Enjoyed reading about your Fort Ruckers experiences, Loretta.
    Wish you could get to Atlanta, but we see you are plenty busy there. Montgomery has a wonderful Civil Rights’ Center there–the fountain outside the center is so inspirational.
    Are you about three-four hours from Atlanta? Birmingham is about 2 1/2-3 hours from us. My nephew-in-law returned from Iraq last week so I am anxious to hear how he fared while there. Will see him next week when we go to MIchigan.
    Blessings on your ministry there.

  3. Jean Befort on July 18th, 2009 3:54 pm

    Hi Loretta! Thanks for your very interesting information on the good work you are doing for our soldiers and their families. Know that you’ve been much in my thoughts and look forward to seeing you home soon. with love & prayers!

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