Local groups team up to honor military families

(WBIR) November is a month dedicated toward honoring our veterans for risking their lives for our country, but when do you honor their family and loved ones?

Four Tennessee groups created a way to help and honor these loved ones.

It started with a slice of pizza, and ended with a basketball game. Knox County Council PTA teamed up with the University of Tennessee Athletics department, Operation Military Kids Program, and East Tennessee Military Affair Council to give our military families a "Big Orange Salute."

"Folks forget about those military families who have kind of a different set of stressors. A different set of problems that they are dealing with on a daily basis that civilians don't really understand a lot about," said PTA president Sandra Rowcliffe.

This salute included fun and games on UT's campus, a meal, and a free trip to the Lady Vols basketball game against Georgia Tech. Jaime Rodea brought his family to the festivities. He had spent more than a decade deployed and away from his family. This past year, he received a position that keeps him close to his loved ones.

"I have been in the army for about 12 and a half years so I have deployed a lot and been gone a lot. So coming onto recruiting duty is a big change. I get to do a lot more as a family," said Rodea.

Now Rodea wants to spend as much time as possible with his wife and kids.

"They need it. You know, the kids like to be stuck inside the house playing video games and what not so they do need to get out a little bit more," said Rodea.

The event honors the families, but also offers resources to help a family during stressful times. Operation Military Kids held a crafts and games table.

"It just shows kids that number one we want to love on them a little bit and show them they are special and have them show some of the skills they are learning today with some of the activities they are doing. They can kind of model those over their peers," said Operation Military Kids coordinator Angie Beaty.

UT collegiate 4-H members helped run some of the booths at the the event.


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