BOSTON (CBS) – A Massachusetts mother and her six children are trying to stay strong, dealing with the disappointment that they won’t be able to be together to welcome home their father home from Afghanistan.
Jennifer Lee and her children, who range in age from one to eight years old, were looking forward to the moment they would see Lt Col John Lee return to Massachusetts with his 26th Yankee Brigade after his year deployment. She says her children and other soldier’s families had made signs and were told it would be a daytime return.
But then, she says they got the word that the day changed, and then again another change that the soldiers would come home at 11 pm. For the Lees, that means the children won’t be able to be there.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports
Jennifer says she is very disappointed. “I was really looking for that moment, so the kids can see him and hold their signs up they were working on. Just disappointment,” says Jennifer. “We already went through the sad part, I want to do the happy part.”
National Guard spokesperson Lt Col James Sahady released the following statements:
- “The Soldiers need to go through an “administrative process” in New Jersey before returning home and times vary based on the availability of the full-time support personnel at the active duty station: Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst.”
- “The arrival of the soldiers at about 11:00 p.m. on February 9, 2012 in Reading is an informal welcome home ceremony held at the unit’s armory. The Massachusetts National Guard will hold a formal welcome home ceremony for all the Soldiers and Family members at a later date.”
- “The unit was initially scheduled to return home on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, this would have required the unit to conduct the “administrative process” in Massachusetts on Saturday keeping the Soldiers away from their Families for an additional weekend. To expedite the completion of this mission and return our Soldiers to their Families, the Army gave permission for the unit to return home on Thursday.”
- “Our goal is to compress the three day post-deployment administrative process in Massachusetts into one day Friday. This will allow the opportunity to give the Soldiers a two-day weekend pass with their Families. By bringing the Soldiers home one day early, they will now have the weekend off.”
Jennifer says she would rather have the full family together to welcome Lt Col Lee home.
She will be there to pick up her husband, and wishes her children could share that moment as well.
“My kids who have sacrificed a lot over the past year, they’re going to miss out on that experience,” she says.