Holiday season can be tough on military families


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U.S. Air Force Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr. and his wife, Latisha, plan to spend the holidays with their family.

SENIOR LIFE photo

For military families, the holiday season isn’t always easy, as some must deal with loved ones being stationed away from home.

Still, families have found ways to deal with the separation.

Among those doing so is the family of U.S. Air Force Capt. Henry L. Sims Jr., nicknamed “Shooter.” He is stationed in southwest Asia. Sims lived in Rockledge when he was stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, but he has relocated his family to Georgia while he’s deployed.

Sims missed Thanksgiving (also his birthday) with his loved ones, but he said he’ll spend Christmas with his family that includes his wife Latisha, along with his 22-year-old daughter Deja, 15-year-old son Jordan, three brothers and two sisters.

Still, with tours of duty that have also included a deployment in various roles to the Horn of Africa, the Sims family has had to adjust.

“Separation from the family is never easy, however, there are ways to get through it,” Sims said in an email. “My wife and I like to create milestones instead of counting down the days to the end. This helps time go by. Also, we take advantage of the time apart to focus on personal goals. We like to cheer each other on and it takes our attention away from the long days away.”

Latisha Sims adds that the time spent apart is difficult.

“Holidays are filled with many traditions for my family, and my husband’s absence will be missed,” said Latisha Sims via e-mail. “Though I may surround myself with extended family, the holiday experience isn’t the same. My soul yearns to be near my husband, entertaining friends/family, enjoying holiday treats and making memories.”

To communicate with each other, Capt. Sims said the pair uses FaceTime. Latisha Sims adds that she enjoys that and another form of corresponding.

“During the earlier part of my husband’s military career, there were times where phone calls were near impossible,” added Latisha Sims. ”Going from nearly no communication to an experience where I can see and hear him is amazing … Though I am a big fan of modern technology, to be honest, I still favor handwritten letters; they make me smile and warm my heart. My husband is quite aware of my feelings for this antiquated means of communication and surprises me occasionally with a letter that I can add to my collection.”

As Latisha Sims mentioned, communication hasn’t always been as accessible for military families.

Former U.S. Army Infantry Capt. Donn Weaver, who served in Korea and Vietnam in the late 1960s and into 1970, was engaged to be married while serving overseas. Some of the modern technology did not exist, so Weaver had to communicate with her through hand-written letters.

“No emails, no calls,” Weaver said.

Weaver said he proposed to Jeanne Weaver, now his wife, on a boat in July 1969 as Apollo 11 lifted off. The lack of communication made him worried about the engagement.

“We did through letters, plan the wedding,” Weaver said. “I wrote about 100 letters. She wrote about 200.”

Weaver noted the situation was challenging but that he and the other soldiers made the best of it.

“I was not just lonely but hoping against hope that I would have many holidays with her and the four kids that we ended up having,” Weaver added.