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Memories of holidays far from home

Antonio Suarez & his wife Martha
Antonio Suarez & his wife Martha

For Army veteran Antonio Suarez, memories of the holidays 20 years ago in Iraq brings to mind the sacrifices that come with military service. While their thoughts were with their loved ones, Suarez and his fellow soldiers also had a duty to each other to remain focused.

“The mission's demands don't take a holiday,” he said. “This is hard to balance when you miss home.” 

What helped Suarez and his squad were quick emails or calls home when the phones worked. Those links to home recharged their batteries.

“It’s hard enough to be in a stressful combat situation where you don't know if you will live or die,” Suarez said. “Being deployed during the holidays means you're separated from your family and loved ones. This can be emotionally difficult, especially during a time when most people are used to being with family and friends.”

Antonio Suarez DAV VeteransThere were limited ways to celebrate, he said. The soldiers he deployed with tried to make the best of the situation by decorating living spaces, organizing special meals and participating in unit events.

Still, it wasn’t the same as celebrating at home, Suarez said.

“During the time the 2nd Infantry Division was stationed in Al Ramadi, Iraq, the best thing our command did was build a cyber-room with secure internet access,” he continued. “We all took time to send an email home or make a quick phone call when the phone lines were operational. Those quick calls and emails recharged our emotional battery and allowed us to stay in the fight.”

Suarez added that the bonds created during a deployment made his unit feel like a second family, which helped the coping process of being away from his real one.

“The brotherhood and love among military personnel is strong any time of year,” Suarez said. 

By honoring this spirit of camaraderie through their generosity, DAV donors help ensure the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform are valued.

“Many veterans have complicated thoughts on the holidays they spent deployed and many others find themselves hospitalized and alone,” said DAV National Adjutant Barry Jesinoski. “Our supporters make our mission to provide hope and justice for veterans changed in service. We appreciate the help that sustains this mission at Christmastime and throughout the year.”

Your gift during this holiday season makes a difference in helping DAV keep the promise to our nation’s veterans. Help support our life-changing services by visiting

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