Lashonda Johnson, a gunnery sergeant in the Marines Reserves, tells Eyewitness News, "It helps the kids while I'm out. It helps the kids while I'm still here. It helps all around about."
She was active duty nine months ago when she signed up for a special mentoring program for the children of soldiers, sailors and marines.
"Just a mentor, a positive mentor in your life," Sgt. Johnson says. " It also inspires your kid to do more, things the parents can't do, that outsiders can help with."
The military mentors program started two years ago. With sponsors like Jack In The Box and H-E-B, military families -- deployed or not -- are finding it an invaluable resource.
"It's tough. It's tough on our military families," says Winnel Herron of H-E-B. "We've been at war for over a decade and it takes a toll, not only on our service members, but also on their families and the children."
Saturday, at the West End Multi Service Center, parents and children, along with mentors, gathered to thank one another and to encourage others to see what a program like this one can do. Monique Rodriquez, who is a match support specialist in the program, says they see an impact right away with the children involved.
"This provides a stable mentor in their own community," she says. "Someone who's going to be here regardless of deployment schedules, training schedules. This is a friend. This is a big brother. This is a big sister who they can talk to and they can seek out help."
For more on the Military Mentors program, go to the Big Brothers Big Sisters website.
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