Coronavirus forces Chesterfield military family to miss son’s boot camp graduation

Chesterfield County

'As a military member, I understand wanting people to be safe, but I just don't understand as a mom, not being able to be there support him'

Chesterfield, Va. (WRIC) — The coronavirus is causing one Chesterfield military family to miss their son’s graduation. He’s graduating from the Great Lakes Naval Base boot camp this weekend and the coronavirus threat is shutting guests out of the ceremony.

While Stephanie and Anthony Thomas had careers in the Army, the two said it wasn’t easy to send their firstborn, Anthony Jr., off to start his own military career in the Navy’s Boot Camp.

“It’s like a whole different world for him,” Stephanie Thomas said.

Both the mom and dad are in the process of retiring from the Army, and Stephanie said the graduation ceremony would have been their last time wearing her uniform active duty before passing down the legacy. The two said they’d been counting down the days until graduation since Anthony Jr. started boot camp.

“It’s something that we’ve pretty much prepped him our whole military career, you know?” Anthony Thomas said.

“The whole 12 weeks I encouraged him, and now I’m trying to sit and have courage for myself,” S. Thomas said.

However, just a couple days before the trip the coronavirus took their moment away. For the first time since the 9-11 Terror Attacks, the Navy base isn’t allowing guests at graduation. The base said it’s just a precaution as COVID-19 rapidly spreads around the world. They set the same guidelines for the officer training command in Newport News too, but there are no confirmed cases at either place. 

“As a military member, I understand wanting people to be safe, but I just don’t understand as a mom, not being able to be there support him,” S. Thomas said.

She also said she’s in a Facebook Group with other boot camp parents. She said some parents have traveled from other countries and didn’t get the message in time and have now landed in Illinois.

“This is what they’re telling him, that your family can’t come to the airport, your family can’t come to the facility, they can’t come see you off,” A. Thomas said.

Families can only stream the ceremony online so Stephanie and Anthony Thomas said they’ll be sending hugs to their son through this story.

“We support you and we always will, and congratulations,” A. Thomas said.

“I’m not gonna be there to hug you but, I’m gonna be with him,” S. Thomas said.

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