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How does a mom cope when her son is on military duty in Iraq? "You don't sleep, you pray every second, and every day that he's safe, you thank God," says Karen Gulino, a divorced mother of two from Tucson. And once that son is safely home? If you're Gulino, you start a jewelry business to help honor and support other military families.
Gulino had a yen to do something meaningful for the troops after her son, Joshua, returned home, in 2004. She often drove past a salvage yard near the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and saw old planes being cut up. "I thought, What a waste. Those aircraft cost $26 million," she says. An idea was born. Over the next several months Gulino began to buy pieces of metal from old fighters and bombers. Then she had them crafted into dog tags for necklaces. She added a business partner, Barbara Donaldson, and started a Web site called Deploypeace.com, where she sells the jewelry. Each tag has a quote about peace engraved on the back (such as Jimi Hendrix's line, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace"). Gulino and Donaldson decided to donate a portion of their proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that provides lodging for families when a wounded soldier is receiving treatment at a military medical center.
Gulino says their jewelry is not political or religious. "It doesn't matter if you're in the service or not, believe in the war or don't believe in the war -- everyone wants peace. In the meantime, those old planes have one last mission: to help soldiers today."
May is Military Appreciation Month, so don't forget to let the troops know you care. Some ideas:
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, May 2009.