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Military wives' isolation brings out those who feel need to help

Starla Lowe, Clinton, with her children, Dyland, 5, and Julia, 3, is part of the military family support group at the Family Resource Center. Her husband, Kevin, petty officer first class, is aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. -
Starla Lowe, Clinton, with her children, Dyland, 5, and Julia, 3, is part of the military family support group at the Family Resource Center. Her husband, Kevin, petty officer first class, is aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf.
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South Whidbey residents are reaching out to three military wives whose husbands are serving in the Persian Gulf.

Following a story in the March 29 edition of The South Whidbey Record in which the women expressed feelings of isolation and fear for their husbands' safety, businesses and residents have come forward with offers of emotional and practical support.

"I have been getting a lot of calls from people offering help and support. It's really wonderful. We are so grateful, and it's something we weren't expecting." said Rebecca Eslinger, one of the three women.

Along with two other women, Starla Lowe and Holly Nelson, Eslinger formed a support group for South Whidbey military wives left behind as their husbands went to war. They meet regularly at the South Whidbey Family Resource Center behind South Whidbey Intermediate School.

Since the publication of the article, a number of local people have volunteered to help the women with food, child care, computer upgrades, home repairs, small electronic repair, movie passes, phone cards, video passes, educational opportunities and even ice cream.

Gail LaVassar, coordinator for the Family Resource Center, said the people who have come out to help the military wives seem to see it as their way of participating in a war effort.

"I think some people want to do more than follow the war on television," she said. "Giving practical and emotional support to those who have a loved one deployed is a way to connect with the reality of war in a productive way."

The help, LaVassar said, is coming from all parts of the ideological spectrum.

"I know those who have offered assistance to this group differ in their views, in regards being "pro" or "anti" war, but share common ground in their desire to show compassion," she said.

Tom Arhontas, a member of the South Whidbey Veterans of Foreign Wars, has offered to cook turkey dinners with all the trimmings for the three women and their families.

"When I read about these women, right here in our community, I know I had to do something. It's my way of supporting the troops," said Arhontas, a Korean War veteran.

LaVasser said Eslinger, Nelson and Lowe do not want to be seen as weak or helpless victims. Rather, she said, they are people reaching out to each other making their community a better place to live.

Eslinger's and Holly Nelson's boyfriends will be ending their wait for a homecoming soon. They serve aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is headed home.

"We don't know when they'll get home, but it won't be soon enough," Eslinger said.

Lowe's husband, Kevin, a petty office first class, is on board the USS Constellation, which is still in the Persian Gulf.

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