"Joke" Worries One Military Family - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/29/03

"Joke" Worries One Military Family

If you're a family member of a deployed soldier, you know how tough it is worrying if you're relative will make it back safely. For one Gulfport family that worry multiplied when their care-package came back with the letters "M.I.A" written on it.

Sunday, wife of deployed army soldier Derrick Holliman, Amanda Holliman, went through a box of goodies she recently mailed to him. The package never made it to him and was sent back.

"I got it back Friday and it was damaged really bad, the stuff inside of it was damaged. It had MIA written all over it, and redskin and RTS and I didn't know what was going on," Holliman said.

Family members say it wouldn't have been so bad, had the package just returned, but the missing-in-action and the return-to-sender acronyms were something they couldn't ignore.

"They may have done it as a joke, but it's not a joke when you get something back like that, especially with what is going on right now," Derrick's mom, Tonya Holliman said.

"That's what one of the sergeants said at Fort Riley that someone was either playing a joke or tampering the mail and stuff like that, we found out that he was OK, but it was still really scary," Amanda Holliman said.

Although we know now that Derrick is OK, the affects of a joke or mistake like this can be serious.

"As short term trauma where just for a few hours or a few days you're unsure about what the true story might be can also cause kind of an acute stress reaction increased anxiety, maybe racing heart, dry mouth, sweaty palms, feeling of butterflies in your stomach," psychologist Dr. William Gasparrini said.

Although in life, it's common to get bad news from time to time, psychologists say the uncertainly period of waiting for answers, although short, can have both psychological and physical effects. Best thing to do when you worry, think positive.

"A good idea is to try and turn to prayer, or to use positive thinking, just remind yourself, they'll probably be OK, the majority of people are going to be OK," Gasparrini said.

"I am very proud of him. I've been proud of him ever since I met him. He's my hero and everything. A hero alive and well, with a loving family waiting for his return," Amanda Holliman said.

The Holliman family said they would like to thank Trent Lott for his help in locating Derrick and letting the family know he was OK.

The Gulfport post office plans to reship the package, free-of-charge tomorrow.

By Nathan Mihelich

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