2014 December

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A Service for All Seasons

Meet the Fleming’s. As a military family, they know something about seasons. They’ve spent many of them apart from one another. Joe’s service to his country in the United States Marine Corps required frequent sacrifices that this family embraced with joy and strength. After four overseas tours and a variety of stateside moves filled to the brim with activities within each military community, this close-knit family knows what it means to serve.

His wife, Amy, remembers placing young Jill in her husband’s arms as an infant, and holding her daughter close as she watched her husband board his ship headed for the Persian Gulf. She also remembers watching that same little girl run into her daddy’s arms nine months later when he returned safely from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Amy recalls her son’s try-outs for athletics, always starting over as the newcomer on the local roster. There were countless milestones in these children’s lives that Joe missed as he served abroad, while Amy spent thousands of hours supporting military families through volunteer networks during deployments or in garrison.

The educational path these children have taken has not been, for a moment, something this family has taken for granted or let unfold haphazardly. Amy and Joe have made deliberate decisions about where to school their children, how to become involved as a family in their local communities, what sports or extracurricular activities fit into the family’s timetable, and how to picture a special future for their children no matter where the Marine Corps sent them. Moving to various states, each with its own set of curricular requirements, has required these parents and students to be vigilant in making sure that school matters and that they excel.

After twenty years of military life, this proud and durable military family has decided to put down roots in central Texas. Joe Jr., now midway through his sophomore year in high school, wants to play ball for the University of Georgia after high school, and Jill dreams of competing professionally as a sand volleyball player. So the Fleming’s have decided that it’s now the season for allowing the dreams of their children to come first.

Enter Gratitude Initiative. The Fleming’s have embraced the opportunity to participate in Gratitude Initiative because they view GI as a great equalizer. Despite the frequent moves, academic transcripts that require some translation, and a commitment to ensuring academic preparedness, regardless of where their schooling has taken place, this family exemplifies the reason Gratitude Initiative is so important.

Gratitude Initiative is going to join the Fleming’s and thousands of families just like them in helping children of military service members realize their dreams. Just because most military kids have enrolled in more schools than they can count, or moved more often than most kids in mainstream America, doesn’t mean that they have to be at a disadvantage when it comes to planning and preparing for their dreams. Gratitude Initiative is ready to develop a plan of action for Joe Jr. so he has everything he needs to succeed in being admitted to the university of his choice. GI is ready to support Jill in the curricular and career choices she needs to make as well.

As the Fleming’s prepare for their first Christmas in the Lone Star State, there will be plenty of tinsel and twinkling lights adorning their tree. At Gratitude Initiative, we understand our mission: ‘tis the season to help these young people shine.

About the author:
Robin Overby Cox is part of a military family comprised of her husband, MAJ (USA, Ret, Dec) Carlisle B. Cox III, her father, COL (USA, Ret, Dec) Lauren Overby, her brothers, LTC (USA, Ret) Stacy and Todd Overby, her father-in-law COL (USA, Ret, Dec) Carlisle B. Cox Jr., her son-in-law, MAJ (USA) Jeffrey Ryan Petty and numerous extended family members.  A librarian and writer, she authored Steel Will, Baker Publishing Group, 2014,with wounded warrior, SSG (USA, Ret) Shilo Harris. She’s lived on Army posts from Okinawa, Japan to Hohenfels, Germany, to everyplace in between and now calls College Station, TX her home. She’s committed to Gratitude Initiative because she knows first-hand about the support the children of our military and veteran families need and deserve. 

Publisher’s Note: Gratitude Initiative is dedicated to serving and protecting military families, therefore actual names and duty locations are not disclosed.

Image source: Stephen Morton/Getty Images North America