By Kathreyn Harris, AW2 Advocate and Spouse
Editor’s Note: AW2 Advocate Kathreyn Harris and her husband, AW2 Veteran Shilo Harris participated in a panel discussion as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces campaign to inform the Hollywood community on ways it can help communicate to US citizens the experiences of military Families during and after war.
I never thought my voice would represent so many amazing people. I have the opportunity daily to help on a one-on-one basis. This trip to Los Angeles for the first lady’s Joining Forces campaign event, however, gave my husband Shilo and me a chance to show our country what our wounded warrior population is made of.
We brought awareness to a larger population. We, as Families of wounded warriors, experienced the stares and snickers. Hopefully by talking to members from the Hollywood guilds we were able to open the door to awareness about what we went through.
We talked about the firsthand adversity we face and how we overcome it. We talked about many of our friends that face these challenges as well. We shared some of our personal experiences—and explained how they are not always pretty, but are necessary. We spoke about the heartache that the public seldom sees.
We talked about our children and how they had to grow up. One of the speakers spoke about how there are so many kids in our country that have no idea what their freedom costs another child. I could see as we talked about our kids and their pain, how so many people in the audience could never dream of it.
The fact that so many Families are ripped apart emotionally is something few know about. These Families may still live in the same home and carry on day to day, but they are separated because of so many reasons. This is something we as wounded warrior Families know about—maybe not firsthand, but through a friend.
With the help of the Joining Forces campaign, I hope the appreciation and awareness we feel in the city of San Antonio, will be felt throughout the nation. I know the Hollywood guilds will be able to bring this awareness into the homes of so many who might not otherwise ever gain an understanding. I also know I talked about the heartbreak and heartache, but that there are so many stories of excitement and happiness to share also.
There is amazing strength and resilience that not only the warriors express, but their spouses and children as well. Our stories need to be told, so that others will know why they are able to carry on with their lives without interruption.