Military Families Feel the Strain

Maj. Mike Papariello spends time with his family before he's deployed to Afghanistan.
Maj. Mike Papariello spends time with his family before he's deployed to Afghanistan.
CBS

In South Burlington, Vermont, Mike Papariello would rather spend these last days of fall playing ball with his 8-year-old son Kevin. Instead, the National Guardsman is packing for his first deployment to Afghanistan -- and preparing to watch the President's speech tonight.

"I would like to hear from the commander in chief a solid vision," Maj. Papariello said. "To solidify the situation over there."

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CBS News Chief National correspondent Byron Pitts reports 1,500 Vermont guardsmen have been training at a mock-up Afghan Village in Jericho, Vermont. Their mission: to train the Afghan National Army and police.

Maj. Papariello said one of the hardest parts of going to war was telling his wife, daughter, and especially, his son. "He took it pretty hard. Yeah, but he's a good kid, strong."

This is the largest deployment of the Vermont National Guard into a war zone since World War II. Citizens of this small New England state know well the high cost of war - but so do many American families.

Julie and Mark Aamot got grim news last month. Their son, 22-year-old specialist Aaron Aamot from Custer, Washington was killed when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. Despite their loss, they support the President's decision to send more troops.

"If we don't send more troops in now they're going to continue to pick us off, just like they have been doing and we'll lose them one and two and 6 and 7 and 8 at a time," Julie said. "Like what has happened with Aaron's unit."

60 Minutes, IED's in Afghanistan

A common question military families asked, what's the president's exit strategy?

In Richland, Michigan, Barb Patterson celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with her 25-year-old son David Patterson. He's a Corporal in the Marines serving in Afghanistan, and home on leave.

"He has to get enough hugs to last him to the end of his deployment," Barb said. "I've been trying to do that during the past 2 weeks."

Back in Vermont, Maj. Papariello's wife Beth knows the feeling. She said, "Now it's scary to think about him going over there."

Like much of the nation tonight, the Papariello's will listen to the commander in chief. Then, do what most military families always do: perform their duty.