YOU CAN VOTE ONCE A DAY UNTIL SEPT. 22nd VOTING CLOSES
GO HERE AND VOTE FOR THE JOSEPH FAMILY: http://www.myfoxboston.com/category/283842/mission-renovation
ESSAY SUBMITTED BY RICHARD JOSEPH
Army, Staff Sergeant
Daughters: Amaris (20 months old) & Ria (6 weeks old)
E. Bridgewater, Mass.
Honestly, and I chuckle about this, it was the flagpole that got me. I’m Staff Sergeant Richard Joseph of G Company 186th BSB, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain Division). I’m 33 years old with 14 of those years in the Army and I rarely entertain submissions to win any give-aways. I recall coming home from weeks of grueling training in the hot and muggy fields at Fort Polk Louisiana to my 9 months pregnant wife explaining to me the details behind a home renovation package that she heard on television. I was sore, tired, filthy and was focused solely on seeing Amaris, our 18 month old daughter, who I missed more than I was used to. I have been deployed on two tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan but did not have a child during those times so missing someone to this degree was new to me. The training I just completed, which strongly eluded to a highly likely fourth deployment, is the longest I have been away from Amaris since her birth and all I wanted to do was receive one of her melodramatic, toddler-style hugs.
My wife waddled towards me, greeted me with a hug, and with as much excitement as a woman about to go into labor at any moment could muster, began running down the details to this competition. Pregnancy makes my wife talkative and I know I’m going to hear it when she reads this and finds out I was half-listening to her at the time. I dropped my rucksack by the door as she spoke and knelt down to unlace my boots. My wife was straining sentences out about kitchen renovations, car leases, something about someone named Bernie or Phyl. “Where’s Amaris?” I politely interrupted. “At your mother’s” she replied. I sighed as I unlaced my boots and she continued her cryptic monologue about Dunkin Donuts and energy efficient appliances. Then, almost as if it happened in slow motion, I heard her say, “They will even give us a flagpole”. I was immediately attentive. “What? Who? Who is going to give us a flagpole?” I vigilantly inquired.
My wife smiled through her exhaustively pregnant expression as she battled with the idea of having to repeat everything she just said. She opted to press play on the DVR where a commercial for ‘Mission: Renovation’ was paused. I must say I was thoroughly impressed. The package was not so over-the-top that it dissuaded one from participating. It seemed like a genuine and attainable package of services from a collection of corporate sponsors for a soldier that couldn’t be more applicable to the exact needs of this veteran right now. My wife and I are first-time home owners. We love our purchase but it is an older house. It was erected in 1950 so has a lot of what the real estate community calls “charm”. I, now, understand “charm” to be a euphemistic representation of the necessity for upgrades. A house built in 1950 spares no opportunity for one to exercise their Do-It-Yourself spirit and try one’s hand at being an electrician, appliance repairer, and interior decorator. My home has catapulted me into the laborious lands of landscaping, and carpentry. I find myself endlessly researching online techniques to attempt whatever the next needed project is to keep us running smoothly. This package nailed every stage of what we are currently facing in renovations.
Besides getting laid-off from her job in May, my wife and I have both worked full-time consistently since the age of 16. I currently work full-time for the Department of Defense as a vehicle mechanic. We are no stranger to working hard. Although she was saddened by the lay-off we told ourselves it was a much needed stress reliever during her pregnancy with our second daughter. I have started the much needed renovations to our house based on necessity and time. I completed the baby’s room and have one of our bathrooms completely torn down to the studs but all of this is brand new to me. So, along with being a new parent, new home owner, and new husband, I am working my way into being a new plumber! I do not shy away from this challenge but with the forthcoming deployment, a new-born, and a toddler I genuinely am concerned for my wife’s capacity to handle the house and its continual surprises.
My wife is solid. She has been through very trying times with me and my warfare experiences. She has been a solid rock to me during times I faced the military’s diagnosis of my PTSD and hyper-vigilance. During these trying times for her, I know a much needed lift of the burden on her shoulders would come from knowing that a reliable vehicle, solid appliances, and a renovated energy efficient house was what she was raising our children in while our income has been cut in half and her husband was at war. We don’t speak about it much but we have been down this road three times already so know undisputedly what is very shortly to come from the pipeline. That is much of my wife’s concern but for me, I just want a flagpole.