Saturday Morning Message: Reasons for Joining the Military

Author: Carol Lane

Good morning,

The picture this week is the front of one of the hotels that housed the TAPS 24th National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp this year. I thought this picture would capture the theme of this week’s message about why our loved ones joined the military. There were so many wonderful responses to this week’s question that I am going to keep my remarks very short this week.

American Flag

Remember that you can write to me anytime just to communicate or if you have thoughts on what could make the Saturday Morning Message more helpful. I look forward to hearing from you. My email address is

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

This week’s question came from a combination of thoughts from Bonnie Jo, mother of Andrew, and myself. This past week was the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It seemed the perfect time for this question which is: What changes have you made in your life since your loved one passed? We look forward to your responses. 

Questions are the backbone of the Saturday Morning Message. In order to keep the Saturday Morning Message fresh, I am looking for more questions. If you have questions or topics you would like to see addressed in the Saturday Morning Message, send them to me at Replies to this weekly question are best sent to me by Tuesday morning. You are an important part of this message, and I look forward to your questions or any ideas you may have.


♫ Song for the Week

Cheryl, mother of Jack, sent this song a while back and I thought it would be perfect for this week’s message. It is titled Never Alone sung by Barlow Girl. 

You can also send your favorite songs for the song of the week section. Send your ideas to me at


Answers from Survivors

Responses from Survivors to last week’s question: Why did your loved one join the military?

If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to me at and I will make sure your thoughts are passed along to them.

From Bonnie Jo, mother of Andy: The day of 9/11, I was getting ready for work when the first attack came and I ran to Andy’s room and knocked on the door. “Get up,” I screamed. “There is some kind of attack going on in NYC.” He did and we sat on my bed watching the scene unfold. Before we knew it, several of his friends (about seven or so) arrived from the early classes at the school and joined  Andy and me on my bed (how funny in retrospect), and we saw the next plane hit. I left them after a while as I knew they needed to digest what had happened and went downstairs to cook up a huge breakfast for these always hungry students, and call my disabled clients who often had no idea of anything like this in their lives.There would be no work that day for me although I was scheduled to go into New York City, but had cancelled it. Why? Who knows? As so many of you know, that attack was the catalyst that spurred the enlistment of so many of our youngsters. Also, and sadly, the death of so many.

From Annette, mother of Joseph: I love this question because it brings me back to Joe’s very early childhood. He always wanted to play GI Joe and eventually his friends would tire of it, but he would go on with them or without them. In 1990 when we entered the first Gulf War, Joe was 9 and told us he needed to be there. In his senior year of high school, he needed our permission to enter the Marines upon graduation. With trepidation, we signed, because we knew in our hearts that this was where he wanted to be.

From Jill, mother of Derek: Derek joined for multiple reasons, but his number 1 was service to others. He worked from high school through college with veterans who had  disabilities — skiing, water skiing, and many other sports, for the National Ability Center. His love for the men and women who served our country and came home with permanent physical and mental reminders made him want to also give to our country.

From Samira, mother of Andres: Good question. I cannot answer. I never asked my son, Andres, why. I just said to him it is your job to get a degree. He came home one day in eighth grade and told me he registered for Air Force ROTC in  high school. Andres loved his work. Also, I was at peace because if I died he knew how to manage and prepare his life by himself. If I knew how dangerous or damaged he became in the service, I WOULD NEVER HAVE LET HIM GO. I was ignorant to all the problems or hazards he would face in the military.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: My son graduated high school and went to college for one semester. Here was an extremely bright and personable young man who had no direction. Somehow his super smart self got in the way of growing up. When I finally had enough of Sony Playstation and meaningless small jobs, I gave my son choices: go back to college, get a real job, or enlist in the military. He asked for one week to investigate. I gave him the time. He knew I was upset with his current situation. Wisely, he chose the military. Then he needed a week to determine which branch he wanted to join. Again, he choose wisely: the Navy. His grandfathers, uncles and cousins were all Navy veterans. There he found himself and thrived. He found his purpose in Naval Intelligence. Within a few days of boot camp, he grew into a confident man, a happy man. He loved the Navy.

From Bob and Kitty, parents of John: Our son, besides being very patriotic since Cub Scouts, volunteered to serve his country to honor his great grandparents who served in World War I in France, and his grandparents, 1st Lt. Margaret Pate Palmer and Tech Sgt. Okey K. Palmer, a combat medic at Guadalcanal during World War II. They were overwhelmed and very proud of John who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

From Kellye, wife of Thomas: My husband, Tom, grew up in rural Indiana. Job opportunities were bleak at best. He chose to enlist in the Air Force for several reasons:

  1. To get out of Indiana
  2. Do something in aviation (which he’s had a love affair with his whole life)
  3. Get a life (his words, not mine)
  4. Get a college education
  5. Have proper health and dental benefits
  6. Have a military career like his dad.

If Tom could’ve served another 20+ years, he would’ve. He absolutely loved aviation. He loved learning about, teaching it, working on it, flying it....he loved every aspect of it.

I’m glad he died on the job, retirement never would’ve suited him. He was insanely proud of his Air Force career.

From Merry, mother of Wesley: Wes and his brother, Eric, both joined the military. In grade school, I encouraged them to look into signing up sometime in their lives. They both took me up on it.

When the Twin Towers were hit, several male teens from the high school marched over to the recruiting office and signed up. Wes and four of his friends from high school signed up in the summer of 2003 in order to go to boot camp when they graduated in 2004. Three of them went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) together and were in the same platoon. One went to Parris Island, because that's where his father and grandfather had done boot camp. The fifth boy was delayed entry for a month, because he developed a major infection in his hand from cutting wood.

Eric followed his big brother's footsteps three years later and graduated from MCRD in 2007.  Gotta LOVE them!!

From Essie, mother of Tysheena: When I think about the day my daughter decided to take on the responsibility to go into the armed forces I have to admit that I was scared. She came to me in the seventh grade and said, "Mom, I want to help you one day. I want to be able to assist you and daddy in purchasing a house one day." She said that she wanted to be a JAG and I told her that in order for that to come to be she had to go into the service. She looked at me and said, "Okay!" So at the end of her eighth-grade year, she brought me the application to apply for JROTC in Dickinson High School, here in Jersey City. I asked if she was sure and she said, "Yes mom."  Fast forward, she did three years of JROTC and graduated from high school, but instead of going into the service, she went to work. She did a little side hustle for two months and then she applied to UPS, got hired and worked there until she enlisted into the Army.  During her high school junior and senior year we met a very influential cousin who lives in Maryland through our great auntie. After the auntie passed, her dying wish was that her nephew, my husband, meet his family and bond with them. We fulfilled that by sticking to this particular cousin. She, along with her husband and daughter, accepted Tysheena as if she had been around them all her life. Both Tysheena and her little sister Ayania where always with us whenever we went to Maryland for getaways. Brenda, the cousin, influenced Tysheena even further in going into the Army by the stories she told to her about her experiences. Still it wasn't until she and her daddy had a heart to heart in August 2015, that she regained her drive that she had in high school. So in September, she went with her daddy to sign up for the Army. She wanted to be able to help me and her father purchase a home and move from New Jersey. From 2013 to 2015 we had grown a love of Maryland through going to our cousin Brenda's house and exploring the area. In 2014, we decided that this is where we would go after Ayania graduated from high school in 2019. Tysheena enlisted for the purpose of becoming a JAG and to be able to help us out. She didn't get to see her full potential, but we will still be moving to Maryland after her little sister graduates from high school next year.  

Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).