Military Mom: Afghanistan needs to be part of campaign dialogue

Posted at 6:00 PM, Aug 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-17 18:45:12-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - How bad is the situation in Afghanistan? In 2012 on average one U.S. service member has been dying there every day. For one Henrico mother, whose son is serving on the front lines, she is hoping Americans remember to support the troops until they all come home.

A fading yellow ribbon. Melanie Payne’s small gesture urging people to remember. This mother lives in Henrico, but her thoughts are seven thousand miles away.

“Once you have a child you worry about your children. He is in Afghanistan and he went in March,” Melanie says. “We heard from him for the first time Tuesday in four months.”

Melanie’s soldier son, Matthew, is serving in harm’s way in Kandahar. Melanie serves as president of the one hundred member Blue Star Families of Richmond.

“We’re a support group obviously because we have someone in the military.”

In just the last two weeks alone 16 US service members have been killed. July was the deadliest month so far this year.

“When you open that newspaper every day or turn that TV everyday and it’s a real person that has happened to them.”

With relatively few Americans, about one percent, with direct ties to the military, Melanie fears Americans are growing tone deaf to the war in Afghanistan.

“I have that all of the time when I say Matthew is deployed they’ll say I thought we were coming home we are eventually coming home,” Melanie say.

While worry for her son’s safety has increased. She doesn’t let it consume her. Melanie also wonders why the Afghanistan issue is not front and center this election year.

“I think it needs to be part of the conversation,” Melanie says. “I do think the politicians need to tell us where we are going to go forward from here.”

She is breathing a sigh of relief knowing her son has survived but her heart aches knowing others are grieving.

“You know as soon as you hear that no matter where you are my first thought is oh my gosh somebody’s mom is crying they’ve lost somebody.”

Matthew is scheduled to return in December. A long four months for this proud mom.

“If they are happy what they are doing and this is what they want to do then I’ll have faith that things will come out the way it should come out,” Melanie says.

Melanie's son Matthew will celebrate his 28th birthday on the front lines tomorrow. If you would like to help the troops

The Blue Star Families of Richmond will be sending care packages next week They're looking for several items including tooth paste, powdered drink mix and socks.

Email if you would like to help.