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The Father Factor

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It Must Be Tough Being A Military Dad

In my previous job, I traveled around the country quite a bit by airplane. I got a kick out of seeing military personnel returning home to loved ones at some of the international airports I visited, and I loved seeing families and friends hugging and crying with one another after reuniting. I always imagined what a deep feeling of relief it was for families, especially fathers, who were deployed abroad to come back home to loving arms.

This week, a little girl in Utah got the surprise of her life during a show-and-tell in her elementary school class. Five-year-old Baylee was speaking in front of her kindergarten class talking about the things she loves. As her teacher helps her with the presentation, she then points to a photo of her father, which makes Baylee perk up a bit. The teacher then points to the left and her dad walks in with little Baylee leaping into her dad’s arms – so excited, the cute kid loses a shoe!

I defy anyone, no matter how tough they are, to hold back tears of joy after hearing Baylee excitedly wrap her arms around her father Sgt. Adam Page. “How did you ever make it,” said Baylee repeatedly as dad was overcome with emotion. Watching Sgt. Page hold his daughter was a priceless moment that none will ever forget.

Sgt. Page had been deployed to Afghanistan, and has since returned to his native Utah. It will be the first time he’s lived with his family since the birth of his little one. One must wonder, how tough was it on this dad while he was away from his family. I was away from my daughter for just 8 months once for work, and I was so sad without her. I can’t imagine the weight dads who serve in the name of our country have to carry.

Thankfully, there are resources and other helpful things that can assist military fathers while they’re deployed abroad. Video chats, email, letters and even simple phone calls can help ease the pangs caused by the distance. The rewards, if dads and families can be patient and loving, are moments like we saw between Baylee and Adam. It is beyond obvious that as much as he could be, Sgt. Page was a solid fixture in his child’s life.

For military dads soon to be deployed or already serving abroad, NFI offers a handy resource called Deployed Fathers & Families: Guide For Military Personnel. This guide provides fathers with great tips such as managing money, taking care of medical needs, and also covers legal matters as well. Click here to learn more about our offerings for military dads.

And don’t forget there’s just a few days left to nominate a military dad for NFI’s annual Military Fatherhood Award! Click here to nominate a military dad today! Voting ends this Sunday, February 5 at 11:59 PM EST!

Father's Day Was Busy!

We joke around here at NFI that on Father's Day, like one of those blowout sales, "Everything must go, go, go!"

This year was no exception, as we were fortunate to have a lot of great opportunities to spread the simple message that kids need good dads.

Here are a few highlights of some of the things we did:
  • We gave Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat superstar, a 2011 Fatherhood Award™. Here he is on CNN on Father's Day talking about the award and about being a dad.
  • We honored LS1 Christopher Cady, US Navy, with the 2011 Military Fatherhood Award™ in a ceremony near his base, Naval Base Kitsap, in Bremerton, WA. Cady was also honored at the White House as a Champion of Change. Read about Chris on the White House website here.
  • We gave Nissan a Fatherhood Award™ for its funny and heartwarming TV spot, "Baby." Go to Nissan's news site to see the ad and a photo of NFI president, Roland C. Warren, handing the Fatherhood Award™ to VP of Nissan Marketing John Brancheau, who posted on this blog last week!
We had so much going on that I did not want to post it all at once. More to come tomorrow, including an HBO documentary, a new fatherhood research book, and more!

Military Children are the Real Award Winners

Today, NFI’s Vice President of Public Relations, Vince DiCaro is in Bremerton Washington, awarding our 2011 Military Fatherhood Award winner, Chris Cady. As we have said, Chris embodies a wonderful example of a military dad who displays an ongoing commitment and dedication to his son while balancing military life and mentoring other military fathers/children, specifically those with special needs. Vince will present the award to Chris in front of his Commanding Officer, family and peers, with Press at the ready. A truly special occasion.

But honestly, what’s so special about this award presentation?

While at first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything entirely special about an award presentation on our winner’s military base, it truly symbolizes so much more. Every day, many of America’s 1.8 million military children struggle with difficult situations and emotions that are foreign to non-military children. They watch their dad’s plane take off to a distant land and agonize that they may never return.

Have you ever considered that data on military children shows that they experience many of the same outcomes as children who live in father absent homes? When you really think about it, it makes sense. Military children experience increased depression, heightened behavior problems, lower academic achievement, etc.

It’s for this reason, that NFI is sure to honor military dads - in front of their peers – to encourage all military dads to go the extra mile and be a dad to their kids, and even to other children, in their area of influence.

Going beyond the award...

In fact, NFI goes beyond just giving one special military dad an award each year. We’re committed to working with the military to increase the number of installations who offer fatherhood programs to educate military dads and provide them with the skill-building resources they need to be involved, responsible, and committed dads, before, during, and after deployment.

We can all agree that our military servicepersons deserve our utmost support, and it’s our honor, with the help of donors and supporters, that we build up NFI’s “Strong Fathers, Strong Families Fund” to provide valuable fatherhood programming to military installations, which in turn provides innovative ways for military children to stay connected to dad while he’s deployed. Consider supporting this worthy cause.

Military children are the true award winners when military dads are equipped to be the best dads they can be.

Champion of Change… And a Whole Lot More

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of accompanying LS1 Christopher Cady, US Navy, to a special ceremony at the White House honoring great dads. Cady is, of course, National Fatherhood Initiative’s 2011 Military Fatherhood Award winner, and, as part of its Champions of Change initiative, the White House wanted to further honor him during its week of activities leading up to Father’s Day this Sunday.

It was quite an event. What struck me the most was the incredible stories that dads told of overcoming enormous obstacles to not only be involved in their own children’s lives, but to be “double duty dads” to other children in their communities. One father was a gang leader who was incarcerated; another witnessed horrible violence in his home growing up; another was abandoned by both of his parents… the list goes on. Yet, in the face of these huge obstacles, from which many people would have turned and run, they hung in there for the simplest, yet most important reason in the world… their kids.

Of course, there is our very own Christopher Cady. As you may know from his nomination video, Chris is the primary caretaker for his severely disabled son, Joshua. Chris is Joshua’s eyes, ears, arms and legs. He is everything to his son.

Being a dad can be tough. Being a military dad can be even tougher. Being a military dad with a special needs child… well, you get the point. But Chris has shown an enormous amount of perseverance, and I finally have a hint as to why.

Having met Chris in person for the first time yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice how calm of a guy he is. He takes everything in stride. He is always pleasant. In other words, he has exactly the kind of patient attitude he needs in order to be the kind of dad his son needs.

That is a point we make here at NFI a lot. Roland, NFI’s president, said on The Oprah Winfrey Show a few years ago, “You can’t be the kind of dad you wanted to have. You can’t be the kind of dad you want to be. You have to be the kind of dad your children need you to be.” I don’t think Chris saw that episode of Oprah, but he is certainly living by those words.

And not only that, he is working hard to make life better for all military dads, especially ones with special needs children. He is a Command Exceptional Family Member Coordinator and helps service members seek out information and resources for their children. On a local community level, he is a mentor for the Military Special Needs Group, the Special Education Advisory Committee, and the Kitsap Fathers Network. And more…

Chris didn’t just stop with his own son – he realized that to move from “good to great” he would have to help all of the other sons and daughters out there who deserve good dads.

In other words, he is a Champion of Change.

A video of Chris’ day at the Champions for Change event will be available at WhiteHouse.gov next week. Chris will be presented with his 2011 Military Fatherhood Award tomorrow near his base in Bremerton, WA.

Congrats to Military Fatherhood Award winner Chris Cady!

600 nominations. 3 finalists. 1 winner.

For the past few years, NFI has been recognizing military fathers for their commitment to the country and their families. This year, we gave America the opportunity to choose the recipient of this award. After narrowing 600 nominations down to three finalists - quite a difficult task! - we introduced three great military dads on our Facebook page. Thousands of people voted, and we are pleased to announce that Navy 1st Class Petty Officer Christopher Cady is NFI's 2011 Military Fatherhood Award recipient! Congratulations Chris!

Watch the announcement of the winner on Sunday's Fox and Friends show:



The 2011 Military Fatherhood Award will be presented to LS1 Cady on his base in June, along with sponsor prizes and other surprises. The winner's and two finalists' bases will also receive Fatherhood Resource Centers filled with NFI's educational materials for dads!

You can learn more about LS1 Cady and his son Joshua, who was born with Cytomegalovirus, by reading his nomination.

Congratulations also go to the other two finalists for the Military Fatherhood Award, Army Captain Scott Kulla and Air Force Major Marc Mathes. We are grateful to all three of these dads for their service to the country and for setting a great example as involved, responsible, and committed fathers!

Learn about how National Fatherhood Initiative supports Military Fathers and Families, and how you can too!

Vote to Support the Courage of Military Dads

Recently, I wrote a blog post called “What Can Happen When Too Many Dads Choose Comfort Rather Than Courage” about my visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. While at the museum, I noticed a poster for the movie, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” It was a good reminder for me because I really wanted to see this movie. So last week, I did.

No spoiler alert here, but this movie had some very compelling fatherhood messages and themes. It was told through eyes of an 8-year-old German boy who lived near a Nazi concentration camp. His father was a commandant responsible for executing Hitler’s “final solution.” This movie was extremely effective in portraying how desperately little boys need to see their fathers as honorable and courageous. Unfortunately, this boy’s military father had linked his courage to a dishonorable cause and the results were tragic for millions of people, including his son.

I found it ironic that I happened to be watching this film at the time that NFI was launching a new Facebook initiative to enable the nation to select the 2011 NFI Military Fatherhood Award™ recipient. I hope that you will click here to cast your vote for one of the three courageous military dads who are honorably serving their children’s needs and our nation.

Indeed, we often do the least for those who do the most for us. Here’s a chance to set things right by voting. You can do so daily between now and May 13. Please feel free to spread the word by sharing this link - Vote for the 2011 Military Fatherhood Award - via Facebook, your blog, email, and Twitter. Thanks in advance for your help.

Honoring Military Dads

Voting for the 2011 Military Fatherhood Award is now open to the public!

For the first time ever, NFI is allowing the public to help us choose the winner of this special award. We received nearly 600 nominations of incredible military dads from all over the country. Then we painstakingly narrowed the field down to our three finalists -- and now you can help us select the winner.

Each finalist's friends and family have submitted a video of why they think their dad should win the award. Click the image below to view the videos and cast your vote for your favorite military dad! Voting closes on May 13, and you can vote once a day until then. The winner will be announced by May 27.




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