Like thousands of American troops, Army National Guard Lt. Col. Brian Bobo spent most of the holiday season in the Middle East.
But Brian, an information technology executive at Target’s Minneapolis headquarters, had his own army in the U.S. to bring some Christmas cheer to his wife, Teresa, and their five children.
Sometimes an army of co-workers can help with small gestures to pull a family through difficult times. For Brian, his co-workers are helping his family get through his military deployment and serving as a model for building a community around service members and their families while they are away.
Brian oversees Army personnel at a Kuwaiti Air Force base where soldiers depart for their “R&R” vacations. He’s also the Commander of the nearby Camp Virginia, where U.S. soldiers leaving Iraq spent the last days of their deployment. His job there, at its core, is to make sure soldiers get home to their families. Click here to watch a CNN story on Camp Va. featuring Target’s Brian Bobo.
His Target co-workers took it upon themselves to help Brian’s family with everyday tasks and special occasions during his 18-month deployment. A group of close to 50 team members assembled by Brian’s manager, David Young, formed “Team Bobo” to support the family.
Team Bobo did everything from arranging for the delivery of freezer-ready meals (which filled Teresa’s freezer to overflowing) to setting up, at Brian’s request, a towering, 12-foot-high artificial Christmas tree.
“I knew it would help Teresa and the kids to have a Christmas that felt not so far out of the ordinary,” Brian said in an interview from Kuwait. For Teresa, the tree’s absence would have been one more reminder of Brian’s absence. Its presence, she said, “takes the bite off the reality.”
The team also arranged for a girls-night-out for Teresa, a garage cleanup and fall home-maintenance session and babysitting for the children. Before the holidays, team members sent a care package to Brian and troops in Kuwait that included Christmas lights and beef jerky – both highly valued items – along with phone cards and thank-you notes.
Now Team Bobo has turned to the happy task of preparing a welcome-home celebration for Brian, while also beginning to plan ways to help him re-acclimate to his job.
David, Brian’s manager, said Team Bobo’s mission was to stay connected with Brian and his family and to provide creative and meaningful ways to minimize the impact of Brian’s deployment. According to Brian and Teresa, the team is succeeding.
“All the things that Target has done for us have helped take some of the stress and worry off my wife, in particular, and off me as well, because I worry about how things are going back home,” Brian said. “It’s definitely helped my morale and my well-being.”
David’s hope is that Team Bobo’s efforts can be replicated by others. His group will have a second act as another team member, Chad McNiesh, prepares for deployment to Afghanistan. A “Team McNiesh” committee is already preparing a send-off party, where Brian will speak to the crowd via Skype from Kuwait.
“I feel like I was just in the right spot at the right time,” David said. “It really hit me when he (Brian) said he was not going to be able to put up their Christmas tree. I thought, ‘We can do that. That’s the least we can do.’ Then, literally, it’s been a groundswell of support.”
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