Mom of 4 officers urges families to "embrace the suck"

Elaine Brye swears she never told her children to join the military, but all four became officers.

"If you knew these kids, there is no way you could tell them what to do," Brye told CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

There's Army helicopter pilot Brendan Brye, Navy recon pilot Jordan Brye, Air Force aerospace engineer Katrina Moon and Marine Corps fighter pilot Eric Brye. Call it coincidence or fate, but the family photo looks like a recruitment poster for the Pentagon.

Service runs in the family. Brye and her husband, Courtney, both served in the Air Force. Both of Brye's parents were in the Army. As the Brye children grew up on their farm in rural Ohio, home movies reveal four future officers dressed in flag-like stars on the Fourth of July.

It's one thing to raise a child as a patriot; it's another to watch that child morph into an officer with orders to go to war. Three of the Bryes have deployed to war zones, including the Middle East and Afghanistan, and Brye said each time, nothing can prepare a mother to handle those deployment farewells.

"When you know that they are going to a place where they could be harmed and you don't know if they're coming back," Brye said. "There is a fear in that and there is a loss in that that's indescribable."

Almost 2.7 million Americans have deployed since 9/11, which means millions of military mothers have had to see their children go into harm's way.

That sacrifice asked of American moms led Brye to write this book "Be Safe, Love Mom." It's a book about comforting military families, but with a surprisingly tough edge. She borrows the military phrase "embrace the suck," urging fellow moms to handle a child's deployment by enduring it.

"It means that, don't waste time complaining about it, do what has to be done. If it is hard, too bad, just power through it," Brye said.

"OK it's hard. It's OK to be uncomfortable, move on," she added. "Because that's what we need to do to support our kids."

It's not all about tough love. Years before the book, Brye was well-known as a military mom networking machine. She helped expand the first email list serve for Naval Academy parents, nand she's active on at least six Facebook pages and blogs arranging help for military families.

When CBS News visited the farm, two of the Brye officers, Lt. Jordan Brye and Capt. Katrina Moon, were there, both with a new appreciation for how families experience war -- and how important their mom was in the cause.

"My mom is a force of nature," Katrina said. "It is more than just a military person. There is a whole network of people and families supporting them that sometimes needs a pat on the back as well."

"It is her way to give back and to really help people where there really isn't a life line out there," Jordan said.

CBS News also got to watch the only kind of family meeting that's possible. On Facetime, they called Brendan, whose Army unit is training in the desert. Her children may be warriors, but Brye was still mom.

"Land on your wheels, boy!" Brye said.

"Dirty side down!" Brendan responded.

As for Brye's favorite photo, it's not this one with all four together; it's this one taken seconds later--when she was the target of a joke.

"This is what I miss. These times when everyone's together and they are a family," Brye said. "They are always going to try to be together, and that's what we want, right?"

Elaine's Mother's Day wish, she said, was for all her kids to be home, but with Jordan on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and Brendan at a location only the Army knows, she said even a phone call from a few would be enough.