–By Sarah Greer, AW2 Stratcom–
This morning, approximately 40 delegates and staff attended an optional prayer breakfast hosted by Chaplain MAJ Bob Wichman. There were a few tears, and a few spouses held hands as they reflected on the emotions of the week. A couple of delegates mentioned that they appreciated the quiet time and opportunity to regroup.
Chaplain Wichman spoke about “Slaying Your Giants” and shared the story of David and Goliath. “God will sustain us in all the trials we face,” he said. “He will help you meet the challenges in your life.”
The audience also enjoyed the musical stylings of Greg Whitfield and Freddie Fuller, “The Singing Cowboy,” who also performed for service members at Camp Liberty, Baghdad in 2007. Their songs paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of military personnel.
Tonight, all Symposium participants will also have the opportunity to participate in a Worship Hour.
Last night’s visit to Sea World was a huge success! Delegates entered the park free of charge through Sea World’s Here’s to the Heroes program and met their kids, who had been at the park most of the day with Operation Purple Camp. During the BBQ dinner, “Shamu” walked around and met with most of the Families, shaking hands and taking pictures.
“My kids loved getting wet by Shamu,” said AW2 spouse Desirae Jones. “My daughter was proud that she liked the rides more than some of the adults.”
AW2 Spouse Brenda Kraft and her husband Ken practically had to drag their twelve-year-old grandson Caleb away from the Steel Eel roller coaster. “We had so much fun, we closed the park,” she said. “We loved the show with Shamu hitting the ball with his nose, and some of the spouses and I got soaked on the inner-tube ride.”
The Focus Groups are progressing well and moving through the issues. They have each prioritized their top two issues, and are now developing the solutions to suggest to Army leadership.
“I feel an inner peace from working on issues that will help such a variety of people,” said Brenda Kraft.
AW2 Advocate Richard Johnson is also an AW2 Soldier, and last year he attended Symposium as a delegate. “There are interesting dynamics in the VA group,” said Richard. “At first, people were hesitant to speak their minds – they all thought too much alike. Once one of the delegates stood up and asked questions, they started having a really healthy discussion.”
“Nobody’s bashful in my group,” said AW2 parent Bill Ireland. “We’re really vocal, and we’re getting to the heart of these issues.”
Delegate Sandy Brashears is attending Symposium with her sister Linda, who is an AW2 Soldier. “As a Family member, I wasn’t sure at first about the terminology and found it challenging to articulate my opinions,” said Sandy, “but one of my group members told me that he really appreciates my different perspective. I’m also grateful for all the information I’m gaining about the programs available to wounded service members, and I look forward to sharing with a friend at home in Frankfurt who will really be able to use these services.”
Operation Purple Camp
Today, Operation Purple Camp split into two groups. Children aged 6-9 will go swimming and then enjoy the San Antonio Children’s Museum. The museum’s interactive exhibits include a Texas Treasure Cave, a cloud room, a Tooth Booth, and even a giant bubble that kids can climb inside.
Meanwhile, the older campers, aged 10-17, will play laser tag and video games. Both age groups will spend time journaling and engaging in group discussion about their parents’ military service.