Family Forum / By Judy Konitzer: While the COVID virus is pandemic and no one is immune, our members have adjusted and realigned their priorities, and I thank them for sharing with us.
GRAPHIC BY THE AUTHOR’S GRANDDAUGHTER, MEGHAN HUTTO
Robbie and COL Shane Kimbrough, NASA, Houston, Texas: Our feelings about this unprecedented time are mixed. We wake up every day thankful for our family’s health. We are glad because our parents are all doing well. In daily life, we have gone from being “empty nesters” to having a full house of 3 “twenty somethings”. We are up for the challenge and love having big family meals together again. What we didn’t expect is the sadness and stress from the kids. Their whole worlds have changed and been turned upside down. Their community was gone or instantly only online, but eventually, everyone settled down into their routine of online classes and working from home. The week of our twin daughters’ graduations was bittersweet. The good news is we expect to have the opportunity to celebrate them in August with postponed ceremonies at both universities. Both girls will start graduate school soon, so we hope their class schedules permit attending their graduations. One thing we have learned through so many years in the military and with NASA, is that life goes on. Life is ever changing and unpredictable. You just do your best to adjust and keep moving forward.
From our daughter Kaitlyn: My senior year looked extremely different than I could have ever imagined. With multiple events like graduation, senior week, and special Baylor traditions canceled, there were many opportunities to be disappointed, but the slower pace during quarantine has helped me appreciate my wonderful Baylor professors and my community. I also realize the importance of not taking anything for granted. I hope this season of life causes me to cherish every moment from here on and make the most of every stage of life.
MAJ Adam Keller, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Katterbach, Germany: After several months of contending with the pandemic in Europe, the Soldiers and Civilians of 12th CAB have doubled down on training and have found innovative ways to build unit cohesion, maintain morale, and strengthen families and their ties within the local community. 1-3 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion recently conducted a battalion attack mission, launching 18 Apaches to attack a simulated radar site in the local flying area. The planning and briefings were conducted using existing telework solutions to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission. 1-214 GSAB has remained busy transporting medical supplies and personnel across Europe to assist our partners and Allies. Recognizing how many folks are in need outside the gates of our local kasernes, our Soldiers and Families recently organized a “Gifts from the Griffins” donation drive for a German home for special needs children. Our units have also worked hard to maintain Soldier morale, even at the height of social distancing measures. 1-3 ARB conducted a virtual “Viper’s Got Talent” talent show over Zoom, while 1-214th held a “Virtual Quarantine Race.” Participants (open to Families and Soldiers alike) needed to complete 21.4 miles in one week’s time, and finishers earned the “coveted” Quarantine Race Medal.
COL Ernesto Cortez, Commander, 116th Military Intelligence Brigade, Augusta, GA: Soldiers of the Brigade are spread across Battalions in Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, Fort Gordon, and Savannah, Georgia. Shelter-in-place orders immediately challenged our ability to continue executing our mission flying and processing aerial intelligence 24/7 across the world, however our Soldiers and families have been incredibly innovative and resilient in meeting all our requirements even while day cares, schools, and important services have been shuttered. Microsoft Teams and Zoom virtual meetings have helped us all stay in contact with each other to get work done to continue to take care of our great Soldiers and Families! While the great state of Georgia is leading the nation in early re-opening, most Soldiers are still restricted from taking part in those re-opened activities. Everyone is excited to get back to the “new-normal” here in Georgia once we see fourteen straight days of decline in new virus cases.
TAPS Shares Lessons Learned for All During Covid-19
I think most military families are familiar with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), founded in 1994 by Bonnie Carroll, whose husband BG Tom Carroll died in an Army C-12 crash in Alaska in 1992. Bonnie realized that military families understood isolation, fear, and loss, but survivors working together could empower others. Today, TAPS offer over 200 annual programs and supports thousands of participants. Briefings, seminars, camps, and retreats on grief, trauma, and suicide are offered to military commands, corporations, and professionals, and their 24/7 national peer support network at 202-588-8277, provides advice from experts and other resources discovered over nearly 3 decades. TAPS’ motto “You Are Not Alone. We Are All in This Together” has expanded to provide tools of surviving to health care workers, first responders, and fellow citizens from all walks of life and all ages, and not just those in the military. Many have been affected by isolation, fear, and other losses associated with the Coronavirus, and lessons learned over the years for help, hope, and healing are being offered to them thru the TAPS website www.taps.org/covid/together