Sailors, Marines, reserves and soldiers often leave a family behind while they deploy to far-away places to serve our country. But have you ever wondered what the families do?
Jen DeBellis is not your typical military wife. She doesn't have children, so that gives her a lot of freedom to do volunteer work. But many would shy away from that if they had to live with a debilitating disease.
But Jen isn't letting anything get in her way. A couple of days a week, Jen makes the 45-minute trip from Fort Stewart to Savannah to read for the Georgia Radio Reading Service, an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide blind and print-handicapped Georgians with access to the printed word.
"It's very rewarding to do something that's going to help someone else who may not be able to gain access to the news like you and I would," Jen said. "I enjoy giving back to the community and helping others. It just has a special place in my heart and it makes me feel good to know that I brightened someone else's day or just made their life a little easier."
It's been a struggle for Jen since her husband, Spc. Lawrence DeBellis, deployed months ago with the Third ID. She wears his dog tags close to her heart.
"I worry about him," she told us. "I miss him and this is something that I look forward to. It gives me a reason to wake up in the morning and get through another day. It's another day closer to him getting home."
In the meantime, Jen keeps busy doing her part for those who need a friendly voice to keep them informed. "A lot of times I rely on the help of others and so I like to feel like I can give back. This is something that doesn't require a lot of physical strength. It juts requires good reading, good speaking and a positive attitude."
For forgetting about her own trouble to help others, Jen DeBellis is part of the WTOC Community Spirit.
Jen suffers from a disability known as plantar's fosieyetis. It causes excruciating pain in the heel and arch so Jen can't stand for more than a few minutes at time.
But she doesn't let that stop her from her reading or serving as the point of contact for the spouses support group.