KILLEEN, Texas — Life as a military spouse can be much harder than you think, especially when you’re raising kids at the same time.
It’s just as important that those American heroes are recognized as often as those in uniform.
Say hello to Linda Valentine, Chief Operating Officer of Killeen nonprofit Operation Phantom Support.
To fully understand who Linda is, we have to go back decades to when she met her husband John Valentine after graduating from high school in Dalton Illinois just south of Chicago.
”We dated for about 3 months, got engaged and he went into boot camp,” said Valentine. “When he came off his boot camp tour thing, we got married and then we moved up to Great Lakes and we started his career.”
It wasn’t long before they had a couple of little ones running around the Naval base and it was in Hawaii that she fully realized just how hard being a Navy wife and mom at the same time really was.
It was then that she began to find ways to help people like her.
”It was in the ’70s,” said Linda Valentine. “We did start a daycare on post in Hawaii in one of the housing areas. They had an open building and they let us use it as a preschool/daycare center but, we had to provide all the staff.”
Her husband when on to serve a long and decorated career in the Navy that in fact inspired her sons to serve as well.
While one son served a short time in the Navy, her eldest decided the water was for him.
”Yeah I was super proud of my father growing up and super proud that my father was a sailor,” said John Valentine, Linda’s eldest Son. “I went on a Tiger Cruise when I was 11 or 12-years-old, where they actually took you out on the ship for a day and I didn’t do well. So, I told my dad I'm going to join the military but I'm going to keep my feet on the ground. So, I joined the Army.”
After a full career in the Army, John started Operation Phantom Support to help families like the one he grew up in.
A decision inspired by the woman he calls his hero, his mom.
”She is the heart and soul of what we do every day,” said John Valentine. “She is the reason I keep pushing myself to make OPS better. It’s because I want to make my mother proud of me.”
Decades as a Navy spouse and decades more as an Army mom is why Linda has a message for families like hers.
”Whatever happens, there’s someone out there who is willing to help you get through it,” said Linda Valentine. “Can’t change it, can’t fix it but, we can help you get through it and that’s really why we’re here.”
Like a soldier on the battlefield, Linda Valentine works every day to make sure that no military spouse or family is left behind in the Fort Hood community.