Have A Heart: Help A Mom With A Son Soon To Deploy

Cadet Nelson Lalli After being Recognized with his mother, Dorie Griggs and sister, Chelle.

Cadet Nelson Lalli After being Recognized with his mother, Dorie Griggs and sister, Chelle.

Some of the most popular postings to Off the Base have been written by Dorie Griggs. She chronicled her journey as a mother, new to military jargon and life, from when her son entered the Citadel to later joining the U.S. Army.

One entry, written in July 2013, has received a lot of traffic: Lessons Learned from a Son’s First Deployment. And that’s where I found this comment and plea for help from today, Feb. 14, 2017.

My son is set to deploy in two weeks. He is married and has two children. His wife is his first priority and I support that wholeheartedly but is there a way for me to keep up with what is going on? Can I still be on his Family List to receive updates? I don’t want to ask him or his wife because they are already under enough stress.

I am uncertain which military branch her son is serving, but I’m hoping all current active-duty, experienced military parents and veterans can share some insight.

Thanks to the military family, ahead of time, for coming through.

Army Mom Welcomes Home Son from First Deployment

What a delight to share this news. The son of our cherished Off the Base contributor, Dorie Griggs, has returned home from Afghanistan.

Dorie shares her anticipation and joy of the moment in this video.

Welcome home 1st Lt. Nelson Lalli who said the first thing he wanted was a trip to McDonald’s to get a Big Mac.

Dorie on the other hand shared the lessons she learned during her son’s deployment.

8 Tips for Mother’s Day with a Military Mom

A proud "Marine" mom, Cyd Deathe.

A proud “Marine” mom, Cyd Deathe.

Sunday is Mother’s Day – normally a time for celebration.  But it’s sometimes tough to celebrate when mom is home and the kids are serving overseas in the military. So here are some suggestions.

When it comes to tips on what not to say to a Marine mom, Cyd Deathe, co-founder the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association, has a list:


  • Don’t say to a military mom, ‘Why did you let him join up?’ That’s one of Cyd’s biggest irritants because it totally dismisses that the child is an adult.
  • Don’t ask ‘When are they coming home?’ Cyd says, “Most of the time we don’t know. We can only hope and the more you hear it and the more you want it and the more you say it it’s not good.”
  • Don’t open a political discussion about the wars with the mother of a deployed military member because they cannot change the fact their child is deployed and possibly at risk.
  • Do be sensitive. “I had one military mom who took her son’s dress blues to the dry cleaners,” Cyd said. “And attendant asked her if she was getting them ready for him to be buried in them.”

Cyd’s son is no longer in the Marines, but she still leads the parent support group  that is open to all military parents. And she had some advice for parents of deployed service members:


  • Give up the crying because it makes them weak.
  • It’s not about you.
  • Don’t tell them that you miss them, they know that already.
  • Your job is to make them strong so they’re on point so they can do what they’ve got to do.

Earlier this week, Dorie Griggs offered 7 suggestions on ways to support a military mom and what to avoid.

You can listen to Dorie and Cyd tell their stories on WUSF.


Text Messages from Afghanistan Melt an Army Mom’s Heart

What first caught my eye was her headline: Toilet Paper, Underwear, Technology, and an Army Mom.

It was the work of Dorie Griggs – a long-time contributor to Off the Base, a proud Army Mom, former Citadel Mom and now writer of her own blog: Dorie Griggs. I miss her contributions, so on occasion with her permission, I will cross post a story like this heart-felt entry.

Dorie Griggs

Dorie Griggs


This afternoon I went to our local barbecue restaurant for lunch. Not usually anything to write about. Today was special though. Right before I went into the restaurant I checked my messages. There was a quick message from my deployed son letting me know he received a couple of boxes I had sent two weeks before. The boxes included food and some boxer briefs in various sizes for his platoon members. Most of my boxes take over 3 weeks to reach him so I was surprised that they arrived so quickly.

He let me know the guys appreciated the boxers. Usually that would be the end of our correspondence. He tends to write a short note and that is it. In my reply I told him that I continue to cover their a$$es whether it is toilet paper or underwear.

Apparently my wit won him over. After going in to order my lunch, I checked the messages and found another one. Our conversation continued for a few more volleys. Nothing earth shattering. His birthday is coming up and I asked what he’d like. He never asks for anything so I am left to guess at what may be appreciated.

The conversation was short. Sitting there in the middle of Slope’s BBQ in Roswell, Georgia it struck me. I am using my Droid HD to have a conversation with my son in Afghanistan, something I would have thought inconceivable just a few years ago. A rather surreal feeling.

One of the ladies who works there asked me if I was alright. I know she was asking about my tray and wondering if I needed anything else, but for some reason her question got to me. Sitting there thinking of my son and his birthday in a few weeks, and knowing he is in a difficult place I realized, no, I am not OK. I miss my son and I worry. I told her I was corresponding with my deployed son. The tears began to well up. I tried to clear my table and go outside before I made a spectacle of myself.

The plan almost worked until the nice lady asked me for my son’s name so she could pray for him. That did it. The tears filled my eyes. She gave me a big hug right there in the middle of the restaurant. I drove home with my heart in my throat.

Some days I am pretty good at pretending that I am not worried. Today is not one of those days.

Wishes for a White (Toilet Paper) Christmas from Afghanistan

Dorie Griggs

Dorie Griggs

The following post is written by long-time contributor Dorie Griggs who started writing for Off the Base while her son was still a cadet at the Citadel. She’s a new Army mom and he’s now deployed.

By Dorie Griggs

Never again will I look at toilet paper the same way.

My son sent me a private message on Saturday morning. I had missed his Skype call the day before. He doesn’t contact me often so I wasn’t sure what was up. It turns out the toilet paper I ordered through Amazon.com arrived. I sent 96 rolls, enough for each member of his platoon to have a package. He told me the guys were treating it like gold. They received a number of boxes this past week, but the toilet paper was, “the hit of everything.”

I told my son to let his guys know I’ve got their a$$es covered. I am pretty sure he rolled his eyes when read my comment.

An Army Family Prepares for Deployment

The Colors are Cased – a battalion ritual as soldiers prepare to deploy. Photo by Stanley Leary.

By Dorie Griggs

The last few weeks have been full of rituals and changes.

October 12-13 was Parents Weekend at The Citadel. My son graduated in 2011, but I am still in touch with quite a few families with cadets there. It is fun to relive the fun weekends through their stories and photographs. Since the first year cadets or knobs are promoted and the seniors receive their rings this weekend, it is a very happy time to visit the otherwise serious campus.

This year, I will admit to spending a bit more time looking at Facebook photos of this fun weekend. It was a great fun way to escape the ritual our family was about to begin. . . deployment.

Our oldest son is about to deploy to the Middle East. He was home in early October for his pre-deployment leave. He spent most of that time living it up with good friends. We saw him for a couple of meals and a going away party his father and step-mother threw for him. It was tough not having more time just to visit, but I was very happy to see him enjoying all his friends. Continue reading

PTSD: An Army Mom Says “Above All Else, Do No Harm”

Photo courtesy of the VA.

One day last week, I was on Facebook and noticed a string of heated comments on the group site, Army Moms, about a Dr. Phil show titled Heroes or Monsters. I don’t watch Dr. Phil so I did a little checking. It turns out the show was about returning veterans with post traumatic stress and the difficult challenges for the veteran and their families.

The topic is an important one. We all need to learn more about the various physical and mental stresses our veterans can potentially come home with. But by using the title: Heroes or Monsters, the Dr. Phil show chose to sensationalize the topic and in the process upset scores of veterans and their families.

The show violated the maxim adhered to by the medical profession of Do No Harm.

Continue reading

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