The children of Fort Hood

At Shoemaker High, near Fort Hood, half the students have a parent or other relative serving in Iraq.

In one form or another, the war crosses Barbara Critchfield’s desk practically every day. She is Shoemaker High’s head counselor, a bluff, no-nonsense veteran of adolescent pain and suffering.

One student she knows quit writing his father in Iraq because he was afraid it would jinx him. Another behaved so badly at home that his mother pleaded with the boy’s father to rebuke him, but the father, deployed in Iraq, refused. If he was killed, he didn’t want a letter of admonishment to be his last communiqué to his son, he said.

One day last month, Critchfield received an e-mail from a senior girl’s mother, a soldier stationed in Iraq. The note begged the counselor to help with the student’s college and scholarship applications. “I am sorry to burden, but at this moment I am kind of helpless over here at her most critical time when I know that my support is needed,” the mother wrote.

One student’s father was killed last year.

About Joanne


  1. PJ/Maryland says:

    “This is what we lose sleep over,” [head counselor] Critchfield said. “If they’re having problems with a friend, we mediate; with a teacher, we can help them with their work; even at home. . . . We can fix just about everything they throw at us, but not this. We can’t bring their parent back or stop them from going over there. And it’s just hard to admit defeat.”

    Am I reading too much into this? It sounds like the counselor sees her job as fixing the world, rather than helping her students deal with the world the way it is.

    I’m sure Critchfield is very hard-working, but I’m happy she’s not able to completely wrap her students in cotton wool.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Joanne – your comment counter is playing tricks again.