Denise Munez and LaVerne McCartan won't have to travel far to visit their grandchildren for Grandparents Day today.
Making sure their grandchildren were taken care of while their mother was deployed to Iraq was a priority for Munez and McCartan, who left Maryland to live in Martinez.
"Leaving the kids permanent and us relocating was the thing to do," McCartan said.
Spc. Bobbie Jo Perlitz, 36, joined the Army about two years ago to make a better life for herself and her three sons, Zachary Bushey, 13, John Cockrell Jr., 12, and Kyle Copen, 8.
"The jobs she always had were minimum wage," said Munez, Perlitz's mother.
Perlitz, who is part of Fort Gordon's 63rd Signal Brigade, always wanted to be in the military, her mother said. Her stepfather was in the Marines, so she looked there first, but Perlitz was too old to enlist, Munez said.
She joined the Army but was nervous about basic training, said McCartan, who is John's paternal grandmother, but considers all three boys her grandchildren.
"She met the challenges of basic training at that age," she said.
Munez has been in the area since before Perlitz deployed in July 2007. Perlitz is scheduled to return at the end of the month.
Munez's 13-year-old son, Francisco Munez III, lived with her and his nephews at the beginning of Perlitz's deployment.
"I realized there was no way she could keep four boys," said McCartan, who joined the family in September 2007.
Together, the two women have shared in getting the boys to their extracurricular activities, to school and other vital appointments.
John plays in the band at Lakeside Middle School, and Kyle, a Martinez Elementary School second-grader, is a Cub Scout. Zachary likes computers.
The two women said the year has been difficult at times, but they are sad it's almost at an end.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with myself," McCartan said.
The two had planned to head back to Maryland together and stop for a few days in North Carolina for a much-needed vacation, but McCartan's daughter needs surgery. As soon as the call comes, McCartan will head to Maryland to be with her.
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