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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Military moms celebrate Mother's Day rebuilding family ties

Military moms celebrate Mother's Day rebuilding family ties
By Colleen O'Connor
The Denver Post
POSTED: 05/12/2013

Soon after Miriam Beg gave birth to her son, she was deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army, so she left baby Michael with her mother-in-law.

"I was really worried to leave my child so young," said Beg, 29, "just 4 months (old)." In the combat zone, she received photos and e-mails documenting his milestones.

"I missed his first step, his first word, his first everything," she said. "By the time I came back, he was over a year old."

First as a military mother and now as a veteran, she's run the gantlet of divorce, post-traumatic stress disorder and homelessness in her battle to be a good mom. Last year, on the verge of eviction, she put on a brave face for Michael, but fear lurked below the surface.

"I did not want to be walking the streets with bags on our shoulders," she said. "I did not want child protective services saying, 'Hey, you're homeless, we're taking your kid.' I worked so hard to have him back with me."

But this Mother's Day, there's cause to celebrate.

Beg recently moved into a new home run by the Volunteers of America, part of a transitional program for homeless female veterans suffering from domestic abuse, PTSD or military sexual trauma. She just got a job, and she's built a close relationship with Michael, now a kindergartner at Colfax Elementary School.

"I'm doing really good," she said.

More than 200,000 women were deployed to combat zones during the Iraq and Afghanistan military campaigns — the largest wartime deployment of women in U.S. history.

Just like men, women defend their country with courage and dedication. But military women face challenges that differ from those of male colleagues, and report higher levels of stress over the impact of their deployment on family, according to a 2011 report from the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.

More than 40 percent of servicewomen have children, and more than 30,000 single mothers have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, the report said.
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