President Acknowledges Military Fathers' Sacrifices, Contributions
(June 20, 2009)
Lt. Col. James "Andy" Leinart, an operations analyst deployed to Baghdad, left, said he misses his family every day but will probably reflect on it a bit more on Father's Day. (Courtesy photo)
WASHINGTON, June 19, 2009
President Barack Obama recognized in his
Father's Day proclamation the sacrifices military fathers
make every day, and hosted the Military Father of the Year
June 19 at the White House for a town hall session on
Navy Chief Petty Officer John Lehnen, the father of four
children with special needs and recipient of the 2009
National Fatherhood Initiative-Lockheed Martin Military
Fatherhood Award, was among five fathers invited to
participate in the forum slated to coincide with the
national Father's Day observance.
Chief Lehnen, a quartermaster, shared his story about the
challenges he and other military fathers face, and how he
stays connected to his children's lives during deployments
and reconnects with them after he returns home.
President Obama recognized in his Father's Day proclamation
issued today the strength military fathers like Chief Lehnen
bring, not just to their families, but to their country as
"We ... express special gratitude to fathers who serve in
the United States armed forces for the sacrifices they and
their families make every day," the president said. "All of
these individuals are making great
contributions, and children across the country
are better off
for their care."
While most Americans are planning backyard
barbecues and family outings to celebrate Father's Day, many
military families with deployed husbands and fathers will be
settling for more subdued observances. |
At Camp Lejeune, N.C., for example, three 22nd Marine
Expeditionary Unit families whose babies were born after the
MEU deployed in May will get treated tomorrow to an
interactive video with their loved ones.
Frank Smith, the unit's family readiness group officer, said
it will be the first time most of the Marines have seen
their newborn children in anything but e-mailed photos.
"It will be an opportunity for them to see and hear them
face to face," said Mr. Smith, a retired Marine master
sergeant. "And it's also a way to let them know that while
they are out there in the face of danger, those of us in the
rear appreciate what they are doing and are looking our for
Meanwhile, other families of deployed servicemembers -- an
estimated 150,000 of them fathers -- and their families are
expected to observe Father's Day in quieter ways.
Many already have made their treks to the post office to
ship off Father's Day cards and care packages of snack
foods, batteries and other coveted goodies.
Lt. Col. James "Andy" Leinart, an operations analyst
deployed to Baghdad, knows a care package is en route from
his wife and three daughters in Annandale, Va.
While he's not expecting a repeat of last year's breakfast
in bed and carefully crafted gifts from his little girls,
Colonel Leinart is keeping a stiff upper lip about missing
his special day with his family.
"I miss my wife and children every day, whether it's
Father's Day or not," he said. "I guess the only real
difference is that Father's Day will give me a pause to
reflect more on it." Quickly brushing any hint of melanchony
aside, Colonel Leinart said he'll be happy with a call home
or a Skype session on the Internet.
And he'll make a point to call his own father in Waco,
Texas. "There's probably no better day than Father's Day to
do that," he said.
photos by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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