CHICO–In In We Also Serve: A Family Goes to War author Nanette Sagastume describes the plight of “parents of the parents of the deployed” as rarely recognized or supported, even though they are at the heart of the military family experience.
“With only 1% of the population serving in a voluntary military,” Sagastume says, “There’s a painful gap of awareness— an almost palpable ‘disconnect’—people have about the reality of having a child in harm’s way.”
Her book describes the emotional turmoil of having a son join the same battalion, company and platoon that his father served with in Vietnam… just as the war in Iraq escalates. To a degree not possible in previous global conflicts, advanced technology virtually plunges Nanette and her family into real-time war, where the double edged sword of instant information can bring both agony and relief.
Sagastume fills a void in the literary world that lacks insight about the other military family: the parents and siblings of those deployed. “Almost without exception, the term “military family” and the resources for them refer to those serving, their spouse and children,” says Sagastume. “If you are a military wife, or live near a base, you have resources and support. However, most parents of the deployed tend to be isolated, with little support to ease the nagging fear and anxiety that comes with knowing that your child could be killed at any time.” As if that weren’t hard enough, added to the burden were grossly insensitive comments made by those who opposed the war. “People didn’t realize that it wasn’t a matter of opposing or not opposing the war, we simply didn’t have a choice in the matter. Once our son decided to serve, all we could do was support his decision and pray,” says Sagastume. “The reality was, it changed our life profoundly…we served our country right along with him, every hour, every minute, which people will begin to understand when they read my book.”
A retired nurse practitioner, Sagastume started a military family support group in her small town of Chico, in California’s North State. She hopes others will too, and that her book will bring comfort to those “who also serve” and a new consciousness of compassion from the 99% who don’t.