National Guard families seek support for soldiers

Friday, September 9th 2005, 10:44 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma National Guardsmen answer the call to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. For their families back home, it's an uncertain time of wondering how long the deployment will last - and how they'll make ends meet until then.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says for every Oklahoma Guardsman on duty in Louisiana, there is a family back home wondering how long they'll be there.

Three families in Vinita are packing supplies to send down there - to re-supply soldiers who have no place to wash their clothes.

For Linda Blessing, the deployment of her son - with 8 hours notice - was a shock and now she's unsure of when he'll get back. "We still have to turn books in because he had just started college and now he's had to drop out for this semester." The family of these guardsmen say they're not complaining because they're proud of the work the soldiers are doing down in New Orleans.

But for some it's a first deployment and they're unsure of how their family finances will play out, especially if the deployment lasts a long time. Guardsman’s wife Ashley Susmilch: "Now with federal pay, it's actually a little but more, but not usually." For this guardsman's wife with a baby, insurance is a key concern for the long term. For her soldier husband, the work at hand is the most immediate problem. Ashley Susmilch: "The smell he says is awful, you can get away from it for a while, but then you just get another whiff of it.”

Brenda Caldwell's husband is on the phone from Louisiana, giving her a list of what he needs and wants, everything from flashlights and a generator to jars of peanut butter. Brenda Caldwell: "And I got the cheese crackers."

Oklahoma has 3,000 National Guardsmen along the Gulf Coast providing help and every one of them has a family back here, wanting to help them.