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Special Christmas ornament helps military families
The first few times Sherrilynn Poulton went driving with her husband Chris after he returned from a year-long tour of duty with the Canadian military in Afghanistan, she kept her right foot poised over a phantom brake pedal in the car's passenger side. After all, Western rules of the road don't apply in a war zone and there was no telling what bad habits Chris picked up dodging potholes and land mines on dusty goat tracks.
That's just one of the myriad adjustments military families face when a loved one returns from active duty.
To help ease that transition, Sears Canada has launched a special Christmas ornament in support of Canada's military community and their families. All of the proceeds from sales of the ornament at the department store's 118 Canadian outlets go to the Military Families Fund which helps soldiers and their loved ones with rehabilitation, educational and financial assistance.
"We are pleased to support the Military Families Fund which provides ongoing assistance to our troops and their families," said Lisa Phelan, the manager of the Sears store at Brentwood Town Centre, where the ornament was unveiled on Tuesday.
It's not easy for soldiers to tend to the mundane tasks of civilian life when they've been obeying orders, speaking military jargon and just trying to stay alive for the past 12 months, said Nancy Szastkiw, a family liaison officer with the BC Military Family Resource Centre.
After living every day in fatigues, it can be tough to shop for regular street clothes. Even telling time on a 12-hour clock rather than the military's 24-hour clock can be a challenge.
It's especially difficult in the first month after a soldier's return, said Szastkiw. "All of them have symptoms like sleep disorders, intestinal disorders. We ask people not to panic."
While technology made the year-long absence of Sherrilynn Poulton's husband less arduous, as they were able to stay in touch with daily video chats over Skype, having him back in the house was a bit of a jolt. She and their nine-year old son Liam had developed their own routine.
"Life changes when he comes home," said Sherrilynn, whose family were special guests at the ornament's launch. "The challenges change day to day. There's a cultural shock, we have to be patient getting readjusted."
But after missing Chris last Christmas as he began his tour, she said she's thrilled to be able to celebrate the holiday with him at home this year. Along with a special new ornament on their tree.