Career Focus: Blue Star Mothers give every Airman a hero’s welcome

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- I am always amazed at how quickly time passes. It also amazes me to think of the thousands of wonderful people I've met serving as an aircraft maintainer, instructor, career advisor and acting first sergeant. Truly, I have been blessed to work with great people in my career.

I am reminded of this each time our unit welcomes our warriors home from deployments.

Recently, a few co-workers and I went to the airport to welcome home two of our warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan. We were not alone. We were joined by a dynamic group of patriots who call themselves the Blue Star Mothers.

Their sons and daughters serve in the armed forces. You may have noticed them at the airport or been welcomed home by them. They form lines, wave flags and cheer for every warrior who returns home. They're a support group for military members and their families. They provide care packages to our warriors overseas.

They are very knowledgeable about the threats our warriors face fighting the Global War on Terror. True patriots, they've been doing this for some time.

I had the honor of standing side by side with them as we welcomed our Airmen home. I talked with Blue Star mom Eliane Notah, who shared her story as a military spouse and described the ups and downs of her husband's 30-year career. She also accurately assessed the situation in Iraq.

In her words, "The threats our warriors face today are far greater than when the war kicked off in 2003. Back then, the enemy was in front of us. Today, the enemy is everywhere in Iraq. Our soldiers face perils every day from improvised explosive devices, plus other terrorist tactics. Our warriors need our support now more than ever."

As Eliane spoke with me, a traveler passed by and asked what we were doing.

When Eliane told the traveler we were waiting for an Airman, the traveler said, "All this for just one person?"

Eliane smiled and said, "Yes. Every warrior deserves it."

Sometimes we forget that our military is a relatively small group of dedicated volunteers and many folks do not fully understand what we do.

Even we can forget just how important our role is.

It takes a special person to serve in the armed forces. It requires a deep, personal commitment to defend this nation from all threats - present and future.

The Blue Star Mothers reminded me of this and renewed my belief that this nation is still worth defending.

These truly remarkable patriots are always ready to welcome, honor, thank and support Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen.

The Blue Star Mothers also need our support. They could use clothing, canned foods and hygiene products such as small bottles of shampoo, soap, toothpaste and other items. All donations will be provided to those serving overseas and their families.

If you would like the Blue Star Mothers to welcome your warrior home or would like to make donations to their efforts, please visit the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Web site at www.nmrgvbluestar mothers.org or contact Hiltrud Ridenour at 865-4240 or by e-mail at hridenour1 @peoplepc.com. Just one person can make a difference and often does.

See you in the wings!