MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, SC --
Service members across the globe are known for deploying to fight for America’s freedom. What is not as highly recognized is the parent or grandparent who watches over their children, making it possible for them to deploy.
Lori Miller, mother of a Fightertown Marine, watched over her son Staff Sgt. Christopher Miller’s three children during his deployment. Christopher, a machinist with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan for an 11-month deployment and returned Monday.
Both of Lori’s sons, Christopher and Staff Sgt. David Miller deployed to Afghanistan this year, making it more nerve-wracking for Lori with the possibility of losing both sons to war.
“The first time both of my sons deployed at the same, time it was hard to sleep, and I was constantly worried about them,” Lori said. “This time, watching the children helped distract me from worrying as much.”
Lori moved to the Air Station in August 2009 to help support Christopher, a single father, and his three children, which meant temporarily leaving her husband, dog, cat and home in Pennsylvania to play the role of mother, father
“I could have taken the children back to Pennsylvania, but after their parents got divorced, I didn’t want to take them away from their friends again,” Lori said, while smiling at the children.
August was the first time the children were able to live with their father for the past 5 years, all of Christopher’s daughter Sarah’s life. Before getting comfortable as a family, duty called and Christopher was deployed.
“My mother made it possible for my children to be able to move here by helping out whenever she could,” Christopher said.
Lori moved without hesitation to assist in watching the children. With few pieces of furniture and the help of neighbors, the family was able to make a home together.
“I like living on base because it’s safe and has security that won’t allow anyone on (base) that’s not supposed to be,” Lori said.
Lori helps keep the children’s minds off of their father being away by keeping them involved in numerous activities. Cub Scouts, swimming, hanging out with friends and going to the movies on base are a few examples of activities the children do. Additionally, once a month, the Miller’s have a family game night with the neighbors.
“I wouldn’t be able to be as successful with the children without the help of our neighbors,” Lori said.
Lori spends her average day dropping the children off at school, going for a walk with a neighborhood friend, picking up Sarah from preschool, taking children to their activities and constantly making sure the children are safe, leaving little free time for herself.
“It is challenging to watch children all the time after not having any in the house for years,” Lori explained.
Even though Lori has various challenges when looking after the children, she stays strong and has the help of friends, and the children to keep each other company.
“When I got sick with strep throat, Christopher Jr. helped me by picking up stuff, taking care of his siblings and setting the table,” Lori said.
Lori teaches the children responsibility by enforcing chores, such as cleaning their rooms, vacuuming their rooms once a week, doing dishes and feeding Smokey, their cat.
While the children’s father is away, Lori does her best to keep them in contact by writing him letters and making sure each child has a chance to speak with their father.
“Her effort to keep the children in contact with me helped keep me going throughout the deployment,” Christopher said.
Lori informed Christopher on what went on with his children, making him feel as though he was still with them, according to Lori. While Christopher was gone, he missed out on events in his children’s life, like when Nathaniel, Christopher’s seven year-old son, learned how to ride his bicycle without
“It made me happy to know that my children continued to grow with the help of my mother,” Christopher said.
Lori plans to stay during the summer, even after Christopher’s return, to save him money and make it easier for him to attend staff sergeant school and get promoted to gunnery sergeant.
"Knowing my children were safe and well taken care of helped make this deployment successful for me by setting my mind at ease," Christopher said. "Deploying is an important part of my (military) career, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without my mother."