A day in the life of loving a hero

Posted on November 1, 2011



Former Croatan Student, Dare Vay, now Dare Daniels, with her husband Shawn.

The ongoing war that has been drug out for nearly nine years has touched and deeply affected America’s heart; but some of the hearts we interact with everyday are broken in a way that cannot be understood.  

When certain loved ones are away, it leaves a pain that is easily misplaced and misunderstood- a pain often overlooked by the common eye.

“I was eight years old when my dad was first deployed,” stated former Croatan student, Megan Crider. “My dad and I did a lot of things together, so it felt like I was losing my best friend. It was early in the morning and there were green bags everywhere and I saw him like I did any other morning except I saw luggage. I was getting ready for school and I just remember having to go to school upset that day.”

Megan and her mom made paper colored rings and hung them around the kitchen. With each passing day, they ripped one off and simply waited for her father’s homecoming because that’s all that they could do.

While Megan was losing her dad and her best friend during her father’s deployment, Dare was losing her husband and the father of her child.

Former student of Croatan, Dare Vay, now known as Dare Daniels, was pregnant with her first child during her husband’s deployment

“Emotionally, I was a mess,” replied Dare. “Shawn deployed two weeks after we got married so everything was really rushed and hectic. When he left, I cried for days because I didn’t know when I’d talk to him next and after seeing him and talking to him everyday, it was a huge change for us both. As I was getting closer to my due date I was stressing if he was going be able to see the birth or not. And because of all the stressing and worry, I had Hunter a month early.”

Shawn, Dare’s husband, never got to witness his son’s birth, and Hunter was five months old when he first met his father.

Hunter’s early birth is just one example of how stress from a loved one being deployed can affect your health and in Dare’s case, her child’s health as well.

Stress causes people to act, in many ways, not themselves. Drug and alcohol abuse can occur along with fluctuating weight problems, sleep loss, and more often than not, depression.

“When my dad is gone, the empty spot is noticeable.” replied student Kelsie Maxwell on the topic of her father’s current deployment to Afghanistan. “It’s really hard to describe. The best way I can try to explain it is by comparing it to a person’s room. Your room is a daily part of your life; you go into it everyday. Imagine that you walk into your room and your bed is gone. Your bed is a place that you can climb into at the end of the day, completely exhausted, and it envelops you in the warmth. If it’s gone and you have to sleep on the floor, you feel the difference. Having my dad deployed is like that: a daily comfort is taken away, so I feel the difference.” 

According to callandpost research, there have been more than 4,400 members of the military killed and more than 32,000 have been wounded.

On October 22nd, Obama explained that within the next two months, tens of thousands of our troops will be home for the holidays.

Kelsie shared a memory of her and her dad lying under the stars one night on a dock and how amazing it felt to her to realize that they shared the same stars.

“This is a part of my life,” she said, “so we learn to make the best of it. I have learned to find the positive in any situation. Even though I miss my dad like crazy, I know that what he is doing is making a difference, and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Dare stated that her husband came home with minor PTSD but she is more than thankful that he came home safely and unharmed.

“I’ve learned that I am a strong person,” she said. “I am strong even at my weakest times. I think it was worth it whether or not I liked it because it’s the life of the military wife and I know there will be more to come but I’m proud of Shawn in what he does.”

Megan continues to spend the most time with her dad that she can while he is home and when you step inside her home, the first thing that catches your eyes are the walls covered top to bottom with awards honored to her father.

Take the time out of your day to thank a solider. Even more so, take the time to thank their main branch of support-it all starts and ends with a family.

Reported by Courtney Hines