It was 2006 when Donna Perchatsch found herself saying goodbye to both her husband and her son who were being deployed for 15 months to different locations in Iraq.
“I didn’t really tell many people, so no one really knew, but it was the little things, getting someone to shovel the side walk, parent teacher conferences were always a challenge, running from one school to another. It was a challenge to do it by myself,” said Perchatsch.
Starting a new job and taking care of her two other sons wasn’t easy, and often times she found herself thinking of the worst.
“I recall one day in the hospital and I was with a patient in their room and a news report came on about some soldiers killed and they said pending notification of next kin, and no names were released, and you know without knowing I kept thinking the rest of the day, I hope it’s not my son, I hope it’s not my husband, and every time I see a car out in the front here, I used to wonder oh gosh, I hope it’s not someone trying to notify me of something, especially if it was a dark sedan, you know the military drives in a dark sedan,” said Perchatsch.
Although there were many rough days, others, reminded her that things were going to be okay.
Those days were when she would hear the voice of her loved ones.
“My husband was given a cell phone and I had a way to contact him in an emergency. I never called him but he used to call home occasionally. My son I heard from him three to four times a year,” said Perchatsch.
Counselor at Affiliates in Counseling, John Sorce, notes the importance of finding consistency with the lack of communication.
“It’s hard enough to have communication when you are together, so when you are out of the house it’s more of a strain, so the dynamic is I don’t get to see that person everyday, I don’t get to talk to that person everyday, so what can I do to kind of maintain some type of homeostasis, some type of consistency,” said Sorce.
Knowing that the communication between her husband and son was minimal, Donna knew she had to fill her time with something constant to get through the long days without them by her side.
“What helped me out in 2007 was finding an organization that’s locally based, Operation Support America. I found out about them and I went to volunteer, and my husband and son were beneficiaries of the boxes and they loved them,” said Perchatsch.
To this day, she still fills boxes to show her support to other families that are going through what she experienced.
“I really felt that absence makes the heart grow fonder, we really missed each other so much. It’s the little things in life they got to appreciate, when you’re in that zone, I think when they came home they learned to appreciate it being home more,” said Perchatsch.
For an in depth look at the lives of other families who are left behind while their loved ones are deployed, tune into Naperville News Extra.
If you would like to lend a helping hand to military families, Operation Support Our Troops is always in need of volunteers, you can check out osotamerica.org.
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