48th families get early Christmas - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

48th families get early Christmas

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December 17, 2005

Albany-- Thousands of families are dealing with the holidays without their loved ones. Families of Georgia's National Guard already got through one holiday this season with Thanksgiving. Another one is right around the corner. They're coping with some help.

All across the nation, families are dealing with the thoughts of their loved ones deployed overseas. "I haven't seen him in a long time. I wan't him to be home with us and the family," says 9-year-old J.T. Vangorkum.

"They're worried about their families. The families are worried about their parents. They're separated. They've got financial burdens to deal with," says VFW Post 2785 Quarter Master Bobby Lyles.

Those are hard burdens especially during the holidays. The VFW Post 2785 knows how hard it can be. "All these soldiers in Iraq right now. They're where we used to be. We've been in Vietnam, Korea, World War I and II," says Lyles. At the party, it's a different kind of environment for families. It's a way for the Vangorkum family to escape from their day to day thoughts.

"You go through a range of emotions. You get angry, upset, you get lonely, you get depressed, you get overwhelmed," says Dawn Vangorkum.

"Horrible, frustrating. I miss him doing all the fun stuff we did," says J.T. Vangorkum. 

Corporal Darrell Vangorkum is overseas but will be home soon. The family is thankful for the early carols, crafts, and presents with people they can relate to. "We understand what we're going through because we're going through it. Other people can sympathize. They can try but they don't know what it's like," says Vangorkum.

"We're hoping today to kind of bring them together and give them a sense of family and let them know that there are others out there like them," says Family Support Coordinator Melissa Dalton.

Kids are easing into Santa's lap and getting early gifts but the biggest gift for families of course would be their loved one being home. "If all I got was that for Christmas, I'd be happy," says Vangorkum. They have a message for everyone who's dealing with their loved one being away.

"Mine is too so don't feel bad about it because there's a lot of other kids who's Dad is over there so you're not the only one," says J.T. Christmas wishes from the VFW and fellow families will help them cope a little longer.

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