Nightly News   |  September 07, 2010

Helping military families find common ground

Making a Difference: Lori Bell, a military wife, manages an online community designed to make long separations easier for other families. NBC's Norah O'Donnell reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: In our MAKING A DIFFERENCE report tonight, a woman who knows firsthand the struggles of military spouses and moms because she is one, and she had a great idea. She brought it to life online, on the Internet , where people like her could find common ground. Our own NBC 's Norah O'Donnell tonight has the story of how Lori Bell is making a difference.

NORAH O'DONNELL reporting: For Lori Bell , military is a way of life . A mother of two with another one on the way, Bell and her, husband, Kenyon are an Air Force couple. Lori retired a few years ago; her husband Kenyon has served 15 years and recently returned from Afghanistan .

Ms. LORI BELL: Hey, Rox , it's Lori . How're you?

O'DONNELL: It was during that last long separation that Lori had an idea.

Ms. BELL: It was one of those weird deployment days when nothing was seeming to go right, and I said I wonder how many people are going through like what I'm going through.

O'DONNELL: So she started an online community , the National Association of Military Moms and Spouses .

Ms. BELL: There are over a million military spouses all across the nation. And we are all in the same fight. We speak the same language. These are groups that they have formed.

O'DONNELL: The Web site offers support on finances, child care, even tips on how to get through a long-term deployment... Adjusting to life in the Middle East .

Ms. BELL: In the Middle East .

O'DONNELL: ...connecting women worldwide.

Ms. SUSANNA HAYNIE (NAMMAS Member): You want to know when you move somewhere, well, where are the safe schools.

Ms. VERNESSA NEU (NAMMAS Member): We're able to help each other and get each other through the good times and the not-so-good times.

O'DONNELL: It's almost like they're lacking a community and they find one.

Ms. BELL: Right. Exactly. That's exactly what it's about.

O'DONNELL: After watching her idea take off, Kenyon nominated his wife as Military Spouse of the Year.

Mr. KENYON BELL: She has served in the military 10 years, and now she's continuing to serve, just in a different capacity.

Ms. BELL: And our spouses are the backbone of our force. Ms. BABETTE MAXWELL ( Military Spouse Magazine Executive Editor and Co-founder): She understands everything that any military spouse has gone through, whether it be deployment, raising children, volunteering and making a difference in her community.

Ms. BELL: I tell them to prosper where you're planted. And that means, use your gifts and talents to create the life you want with the military life you get.

O'DONNELL: Lori Bell , giving support and friendship to military families, one woman at a time. Norah O'Donnell, NBC News, Washington.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: And that's our broadcast for this Tuesday night. Thank you for being here with us. I'm Brian Williams . We hope to see you right back