“I have found a family here at Girl Scouts and I hope you do too.” That is something I recently told a new staff member when talking about working for this organization. For me, this family I have found has supported me through some rather challenging times. And this Veteran’s Day, I’m even more grateful for my Girl Scout family.
You see, I am part of a military family. My husband has served in the National Guard for the past 22 years with three deployments under his belt. But his position in the military has required so much more travel than just these deployments. I did a little math before I began writing and realized he has been gone, whether somewhere in the United States or overseas, for 32 out of the past 67 months. Why 67 months? That is how long I have been working here at GSHPA, and why this family has become so important to me.
We’re not the typical military family that has to move around a lot. We are a National Guard family. This means my children and I stay put while my husband goes where he is ordered. Sometimes it’s a weekend, sometimes a month, and most recently a year. My children and I are so lucky to have the stability of staying in one place, but that doesn’t make it easy either. One of the things that has helped has been GSHPA. The staff who have become family, the volunteers who have become friends, and the girls who continue to motivate and inspire, have made this military life so special.
Service is such an important part of what we teach our Girl Scouts. It is incorporated in almost everything we do, most visibly in the donations to the military through our Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs. But our girls’ support of our military men, women, and families goes far beyond those two programs.
My daughter’s troop and service unit have participated in several activities in support of our military. Her troop and service unit participate not because she and I are part of a military family, but because they truly care. Two years ago, they volunteered to line a local park with American flags for the arrival of a traveling 9/11 memorial. Walking around the memorial that week, I showed my daughter several soldiers who served alongside her father. As a wife and mother, these Girl Scouts gave me hope.
Her troop also donates cookies every year to a local combat veteran support group. The first time they dropped off cookies, the veteran who runs the support group told my daughter that he served with her father. Girl Scouts has helped her learn and appreciate not only the sacrifices of our service men and women everywhere, but also that of her own father.
I am always amazed and grateful for volunteers. For the time they dedicate to our mission, for the opportunities and lessons they provide for our Girl Scouts, and for the kindness they show to those around them. Every time I have the opportunity to speak with one of my volunteers, they always take the time to ask me how my family is doing. Volunteers ask because they know of our recent deployment and because they simply care. I wish I could explain just how much this means to me, but I cannot. That simple question means the world to me. Our volunteers have so many things on mind right now, but they always take the time to check on us. They truly are sisters to every Girl Scout.
Our Girl Scouts, girls and adults alike, support our military year round, in seen and unseen ways. Much like our military men and women, Girl Scouts do not seek recognition for their service and support. Veteran’s day is a day to recognize the service of military men and women. For me, Veteran’s Day can be a difficult reminder of the sacrifices my family makes for this service. It’s a life we chose and we wouldn’t have it any other way. And my Girl Scout family, my co-workers, volunteers, and girls, help make this life so much better!
This Veterans Day message is from Jess Mislinski, GSHPA’s Regional Director.