Canyon, TX - Before going into combat soldiers are able to go through special training, but parents do not have that luxury. When their kids hit the war front, they are left to figure things out for themselves. From deployment to losing a child, the effects of war are far reaching but support groups offer more hope.
Lisa Link is a military mom who knows that all too well.
"The hardest part is when he leaves, when you actually take your child, or this young man, to the airport and you know that he's leaving, and again, the reality hits that he may not come back," Link said.
Lisa loves her son, Rico, and whenever it is time for another deployment, it tugs away at her heart.
"That's probably the hardest part is the knowing that reality sets in and you come home and, you know, they're not there and all you have is pictures," Link said.
War not only takes a toll on the solider, but also on the parents.
"Well, there's no way I can really describe what those families go through," Jack Barnes with America Supports You Texas said. "You know, it's a tremendous loss."
Link says from time to time, she finds herself panicking.
"I guess as a mom, I do, kinda, tend to panic when I don't hear from him for a long period of time," she said.
It is important to realize while there is support for our troops, there is also support for their parents.
"Support groups are doing very important in that regard," Barnes said. "They provide support for the families and it's just an opportunity for those family members to interact and share those stories."
Pete Garcia with the Amarillo Vet Center says he thinks that one of the good things that a lot of the reserves national guard units have developed was support groups.
Parents, like Lisa, were reluctant at first.
"I was the first one to say I didn't want to do anything," Link said. "I just wanted to sit home and pray for him and our little family."
Then, Link said she had a change of heart. Now, she's involved and keeps busy.
"Memorial day is every day for us," Barnes said. "It's important that we remember that sacrifice and, again, support the families, they live with that raw emotion every day."
While we are out of Iraq, Link wants people to know we are still in Afghanistan.
"I still have people that come up and say, 'Oh good, you know, we're out of there... So, he's safe now.'" Link said. "And I have to explain to them... No, we're out of Iraq, but no, we're not out of Afghanistan. We're still in a war."
While it is a life-changing experience, she realizes it is not always permanent.
"When you see a soldier come home... for good, it's a relief for me," Link said. "I see that and it gives me more hope and makes me feel a lot better about my son being over there."