by Mark Hudspeth, NBC producer
It seems like such a long time ago when I first spoke with Sara Peer. It was January, and I was researching a story about military families. Her husband Scott was serving a tour in Iraq with the a unit of the Minnesota National Guard whose tour had just been extended. The next day I had an email waiting for me from one of her friends whose husband was serving in Iraq with Scott. Sara had gone to the hospital to set up a webcam so that Lori's husband could see the birth of his third daughter. "Please do the story on her and her children," she wrote, "She so deserves it! She is a true unsung hero of this deployment!"
I finally met Sara this summer. Our story wasn't about the makeshift military networks that support one another during deployment, but I could see why Lori had so passionately lobbied for her friend. Sara really was holding it all together, and she'd been doing it for almost two years.
Scott finally did make it home in late July. When he left, his three-year-old daughter Vanessa couldn't get enough of Dora. Now she's five...and all about Princesses. His son Bryce was barely walking. Now, he's a struggle to keep up with. Two years is a long time to be away from your family.
Earlier this week I spoke with Dr. Melissa Polusny, who councils military families in Minnesota, about how it can be hard for many families to readjust to the "new normal" once the initial excitement of the homecoming wears off. Despite that, she pointed out, that these families are strong. They've been through a lot, and are surprisingly resilient.
I think that's a perfect way to describe the Peers -- surprisingly resilient.