SEBRING - When June Beish was asked whether she worried during the 23 years that her son, Don, served in the U.S. Navy, she points to her head and says, "See the gray hairs."
Beish, a resident of Lake Placid who said her son still has a contracting job overseas after retiring from the Navy, said that she was thankful during some of that time to have the support of Florida Navy Moms, an organization of mothers who have or had a son or daughter who served or is serving in the Navy.
She said her son not only served in Afghanistan, but he was on the USS Dubuque during efforts to catch pirates near Somalia.
Allana Slager of Sebring, another member, said she's also had some concerns when her son was on active duty and found that support she received through Florida Navy Moms met their needs.
"Only another mom can fully understand what the mom is going through," Slager said. She said her son was injured while helping to respond to a fire onboard a ship.
Every year, the organization holds regional gatherings and a state gathering. This year's state meeting, hosted by Slager, Beish and Donna McAvoy of Labelle, will be from Nov. 8-10 at the Kenilworth Lodge and the Military Sea Services Museum. They have a meet and greet Friday evening at the Kenilworth Lodge and spend the day on Saturday at the museum.
On Saturday, they will share stories about their experiences as mothers of sailors, put together care boxes for sailors and have dinner together. They meet for breakfast on Sunday.
Anyone with a son or daughter in the Navy is welcome to attend and can call Beish at (863) 840-2779.
They have mothers from all over the state, from Pensacola to West Palm Beach, they said.
Slager said that although attendance at the meetings has dropped because of the economy, the women support each other all year, whether it be through Facebook, email or telephone conversations.
"We don't know what harm our sons or daughters are going to get into," she said. "We have each other to lean on."
While Beish and Slager's sons are no long sailors, many of the women who attend the meetings or participate on Facebook have children in active duty roles. Beish and Slager said that from their experience they can support those women.
Beish said one of her memorable moments was getting to know a woman whose son was in the Navy and died in a motorcycle accident while off duty. She said the woman belonged to the group at the time her son died.
The group goes beyond just supporting each other as it relates to their children in the Navy.
"Everyone was there (providing support) when my father died," Slager said. "We share everything."
When they have a problem in their lives, she said, other members pray for support for them.