Kids Don’t Play Around When They Miss Dad
This February as part of our Military Voices Initiative StoryCorps Traveled to Orlando, Florida to record stories of Post 9-11 active duty service members, veterans and their family members.
Organized by the 81 Regional Support Command, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Convention provides support for returning active duty service members from the Army and the National Guard. The event is a time for families to reconnect and learn about different support systems such as schools or support groups. The convention also gives the families a chance to relax and enjoy sunny Florida together.
Here, we met the Catlin family who remembered some of the funniest but difficult memories of being a military family and often having their dad on the road.
Robert Catlin, an Army Officer, explained his growth in the Army from Enlisted to Reservist and now Officer. Robert explained that his father had accustomed him to a disciplined lifestyle as a child, often having him line up with his shoes at his feet. The Army felt like a natural step and has provided a long and rewarding career.
Robert met his wife Kimberly while on leave in his home town of Nashville, TN. After marrying and having children, the couple learned the troubles that came with being a military family. Their two children, Alexandra and Robert Jr., were often very vocal about missing their father.
“I took your keys once just so you wouldn’t leave, threw them down the toilet.” Alexandra Catlin, now 20 years old, recalled her frustration at her father’s time away from home.
Robert Catlin Jr., now 16, also had strong emotions. “You left and I was mad. I went into your closet, pulled my diaper down and peed all over your clothes. Then I just walked out.”
Despite the difficulty of being separated, the family pulled together and created ways to stay united. The distance their family experienced has strengthened their bond.
Alexandra explained one of the family’s traditions, “One thing I recall is when we put dad’s photo at the dinner table. That tradition did not change. It’s been over ten years and that photo is still there.”
After a long career in the military, Robert is now looking forward to a fruitful future. “Retirement from the military is up and coming for myself, my desire is using the skills I’ve learned to help people and to see my children grow up and be part of society.”