Join our diverse force of leaders shaping the course of our nation.
Thinking of Military Families this Veteran’s Week
As we celebrate our veterans this week – and every week - I’m so grateful to the men and women who have and do serve in our armed forces. I’m also grateful to their families. I know the personal struggle and sacrifice that military families face, and while I’m fortunate to know my husband is relatively safe, Facetime just doesn’t replace having him home with us.
We moved to Jacksonville, Florida three years ago when my husband Omar, or Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Omar Palmer (so proud of him - this year he was recognized as Airman of the Year in Patrol Squadron (VP) 10!), was transferred here from D.C. Omar is now on his third deployment in as many years. In that time I’ve been so fortunate to not just find a job and home in our new city, but to also find a community and an extended family.
I thought it would be fun to take our son Isaiah to Disney World for his birthday this year. As we drove to ‘the happiest place on earth’ I looked in the backseat to see one very sad eight year-old. Isaiah counts down the days until his dad will be home again, and those days have become more difficult the older Isaiah is. But there are wonderful people here who make them easier. Isaiah attends a Duval County Public School right near the military base. Lots of his friends are missing parents of their own, and the school has an incredible counselor who supports the kids and understands the unique situations military families face. We’re so grateful for Venetia Elementary.
Isaiah also decided to take up his dad’s favorite sport this year – football! Every Saturday morning we get up early and head to the field. And every Saturday my heart swells to see members of my Teach For America family there waiting to cheer alongside me. Most don’t have players of their own on the field – they’re there for Isaiah and to fill in for what we know would be very loud cheers from Omar.
In D.C., I was an assistant principal and hiring manager in the public schools and I became very familiar with Teach For America. So, when it was time to move to Jacksonville, TFA was one of the first places I looked for a new job and was so happy to join the Teacher Leadership Development team. Not only do I get to work with passionate and dedicated teachers every day, but I have the warmest, most thoughtful colleagues. They truly are my family. We know we can count on the Radel family for beach days, the Little family for holiday parties and bond fires, and on the Willie family for game nights, and this Thanksgiving the whole team will go from home to home to spend different parts of the meal with each other.
Isaiah and I can’t wait for Omar to come home, but while we do we’re so grateful to live and work among a big extended family that we just met three years ago. I hope you’ll take the gratitude you’re feeling for our military members this week and pay it forward in the year ahead. Your kindness can mean the world to a family missing their hero.