Parents on Their Children Going Off to War

Defense contractor and IED detection dog handler Rick Cicero (middle) was recognized for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier. Photo credit: Sgt. Fredrick Coleman, USMC.

Defense contractor and IED detection dog handler Rick Cicero (middle) was recognized for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier. Photo credit: Sgt. Fredrick Coleman, USMC.

How do parents of adult children deal with the stress and uncertainty when their child volunteers to go off to war?

Jean Cicero is married to a police officer, now retired. She said it was no surprise that her son, Rick,  joined the Army and served in the first Gulf War or that he became a police officer when he returned home.

“It was kind of hard to decide which was more difficult, which made me crazier,” Jean said. “I would talk to him and he’d go ‘Mom, you’ve got to be brave because if you’re brave then I’m brave.’”

Rick Cicero would ask his mom to be brave again when he headed to Afghanistan as a defense contractor training dogs to detect Improvised Explosive Devices.

“I just said my prayers and hung in there,” Jean said.

Her son was severely injured by an IED in 2010 while on his third tour in Afghanistan. Rick Cicero lost his right arm and right leg.

Other family members stayed with Rick immediately after the injury at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

Marine Major Gen. Dave Beydler of U.S. Central Command shakes hands with Rick Cicero who was being recognized for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan in 2010.

Marine Major Gen. Dave Beydler of U.S. Central Command shakes hands with Rick Cicero who was being recognized for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan in 2010. Photo credit: Sgt. Fredrick Coleman, USMC.

Jean didn’t see her son until he arrived at Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital. She remembered that his body was a wreck, but his face told her something else.

“His spirit, his bravery that’s all that you saw. And he said, ‘Mom I’m fine. I’m going to be fine,’” Jean said. “I happened to be there the day, the first day, he put his leg on. So, I saw him stand for the first time out of bed.”

Asked if was similar to watching Rick learn to walk as a toddler, Jean said it was much different and more difficult because she knew the pain he was experiencing..

“You know when they’re babies and they take their first steps, you’re there and you can kind of hold onto them a little bit,” Jean said. “When they put the leg on and he turned to me and said, ‘Mom, don’t watch.’ He wanted to protect me. I couldn’t tell you how proud I was.”

She said within a week Rick was walking all over the hospital. That was almost three years ago.

Rick credits his son, Dylan, for helping him adjust to losing two of his limbs.

Canadian Forces Col. Paul Keddy (left) presents a commendation to Rick Cicero (middle) for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier. Marine Major Gen. Dave Beydler of CENTCOM also participated in the ceremony.

Canadian Forces Col. Paul Keddy (left) presents a commendation to Rick Cicero (middle) for helping to save the life of a Canadian soldier. Marine Major Gen. Dave Beydler of CENTCOM also participated in the ceremony. Photo credit: Sgt. Fredrick Coleman, USMC.

“The probably best and most challenging moment was the day I woke up and a few minutes after speaking with the nurse, my son walked in,” Rick said. “He was stationed in Afghanistan at the same time and he actually flew with me to Germany on the Medevac flight and had been with me the days I was unconscious.”

Rick said he raised his son to make lemonade when life hands you lemons.

“There was no time to complain,” Rick said reflecting back to that first day in the Landstuhl hospital. “There was no time to gripe. And it was probably the best thing that could happen to me because you know here’s my son, I’ve got to man up.”

Rick now volunteers his time visiting severely wounded troops at the Haley VA Hospital.

His son, Dylan Cicero, is turning 22 and working to qualify for Special Forces.

Having served and suffered the loss of a leg and arm, Rick focuses on what he can do to help Dylan succeed.

“Coddling them is not going to do it,” Rick said. “That’s going to make them second guess, it’s going to make them lack in their commitment. What we need to do is reinforce in them – you’re trained. I raised you since a little one now and you have the right tools to do this.”

Rick said he has faith, faith in his son and faith that he will succeed.

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Gen. Schwarzkopf Laid to Rest with Honor at West Point

Twenty-two years to the day when Operation Desert Storm ended, the general who commanded that allied ground offensive was laid to rest at West Point, N.Y. A memorial service for retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, a U.S. Military Academy Class of 1956 graduate, was held at the Cadet Chapel Feb. 28 with family, friends and colleagues in attendance. (Photo by Tommy Gilligan USMA PAO

 A memorial service for retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, a U.S. Military Academy Class of 1956 graduate, was held at the Cadet Chapel Feb. 28 with family, friends and colleagues in attendance. (Photo by Tommy Gilligan USMA PAO)

He made Tampa his final home, now West Point is his final resting place.

On February 28, 2013, a memorial service for General H. Norman Schwarzkopf was held at the Cadet Chapel.

Schwarzkopf, a U.S. Military Academy Class of 1956 graduate, was best known for his leadership during Desert Storm. Afterward, he quietly retired in Tampa, home to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. He was buried next to his father, a 1917 USMA graduate and cavalry officer, a World War I veteran and founder of the New Jersey State Police.

You can read full coverage of the memorial ceremony by U.S. Central Command:

Twenty-two years to the day when Operation Desert Storm ended, the general who commanded that allied ground offensive was laid to rest at West Point, N.Y.

Veterans Advice Blog on Service-Connected Conditions

A Tribute to Iwo Jima. Image by Damian Brandon via Free Digital Photos.

There can never be too much information or assistance on how to navigate the Department of Veterans’ Administration due to its complexity and duality; service benefits and health care.

So, I’m pleased to bring you another blog link by David Peters. He started his blog, Veterans Advice, to help Veterans and their families cut through the red tape.

I’ve not met Mr. Peters, but here’s a bit of his background from his blog:

I am a Persian Gulf War era disabled veteran.  The Navy retired me after 14 years of service, on Christmas Eve 1996.  Since then I have worked with Veteran Service Organizations and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  During this time, as a result of my efforts, I’ve helped veterans and their families get over $1 million in benefits they’ve earned.  It’s not the money I’m focused on.  It’s the vast improvement in the quality of life for the veterans and their families that drives me.

So, give his blog a look. His most recent entry discusses Service-Connected injuries.

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