The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund hosted StoryCorps for two days last month, for an Military Voices Initiative (MVI) Door to Door recording day. We facilitated interviews with family members of fallen servicemen from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conversation not only gave family members an opportunity to memorialize their lost loved ones, but to connect with other families who were there to remember their own. However, not everyone was there to remember lost loved ones.
Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Dana Sanders-Udo is a 28-year military veteran, and a single mom. Sanders-Udo was deployed to Afghanistan for one year in 2011, and arranged for her fraternal twins, John and Comfort, to stay with friends and neighbors. She brought them them to StoryCorps to discuss their separation during her tour of duty.
Comfort recalls, “I think the hardest part for me was you being gone for such a long time. I was sad, scared and heartbroken. I didn’t know what to say or do.”
John couldn’t remember his mother telling him she was deploying then recalled being sad, angry and confused.
“I was very concerned for you to stay with friends. You stayed with neighbors, I think it was challenging for them and for you.”
“It was hard because I was without John for the first time”, says Comfort.
You’re out of your home and you’re away from John. It’s just part of the hardship for family members of the deployed.
Dana further explains. ” Before I deployed it was super stressful for me. I wanted to leave the kids in a good place. I wanted to make sure things stayed the same for them. The families in Easton, MA are very nice. These were just friends of mine who volunteered. My kids feel like they had a difficult time, but I try to get them to understand the amount of sacrifice these families made to take them in. One of the ways families try to help military… some people send care packages, some people buy you a cup of coffee… these families really let my kids into their homes and tried to treat them like one of their own. We’re very blessed. “