Ok, if you have been watching the news at all, you can see that things in Syria are getting pretty serious. If you haven’t been watching, I would suggest tuning in.
Yesterday, the Senate started the vote for military action, first getting it approved in a committee.
We have been talking about Syria for a while in our household. Regardless of what the news is saying, it will affect us as a military family.
A fellow Army wife shared this article yesterday, and it really made me think. It made me think enough that I felt the need to respond in my own words.
Please keep in mind that I am talking from my military spouse lens. This is not meant to be about why we [United States] are considering military action. It is just my reaction to some of the media comments as of late, what I see at work and expanding on that article.
Many people think that our time in Afghanistan is coming to a close, and some even believe we are out. This is false, even though it is something we have been told even before Tom left for his first tour there. I even heard a politician say something to the tune of “We aren’t sending anymore troops there.” Tom deployed the next week to said “there”. One of our very good friends is currently there and schedule to be there until next February. He just found out yesterday that his first expected child is going to be a boy. I don’t think they would agree that we are “moving out” of that area. Also, Tom is scheduled for his second deployment back to Afghanistan next July. They have started extensive training which takes him away from our family for days at a time and often has him coming home at odd hours of the night. This kind of training will continue up until they leave next summer. I sure wish it was true that they were out of that country!
“But we are leaving the county” (and also Iraq) they continue to report. The reality is that, yes, there are less troops being sent over. Many COPs (combat out posts) are being closed, but we are still planning to have a presence for awhile to come.
Military families will not be affected with the current proposed Syrian Plan. Hmmmm… As of right now the plan is not to use ground troops and to take no longer than 3 months from everything that I have read. That is great and I am absolutely on board with that seeing as my hubster is the ground troops. But when you talk about war, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. While this timeline would be ideal, it may not be completely accurate once we begin. We have no idea how the other side or other countries will react to our plan. You cannot wrap war up in a pretty little package with a bow, which is what I think this plan insinuates. The leaders of Syria are already warning us of what may unfold. Who are we to say they aren’t bluffing? This three month thing could get an approved extension to add support troops to this initial wave.
Plus let’s think about it, if we are going to get involved with military action, some troop somewhere has to take that action. I don’t think they are going to be doing that from American soil, so even though it may be for a couple months, some military family somewhere IS going to be affected. It doesn’t matter if this is the safest plan for our troops, there is always a concern from families. Always. Even when Tom was in a “safe” country on his way back from Afghanistan, I was still worried. I still felt this weight on my chest that I would never see him again. Unless your service member is beside you in person, you have concern and are affected by any type of deployment. And to be real with you, I still worry about him even when he is in the safety of our house. Being in the military is a life altering commitment that while I am honored to be a part of it, the reality is that it affects me every second of every day, and terrifies me all the same regardless of if he is stateside or not. His job is literally life or death. I am not sure how that can’t affect me.
And being gone just for one day affects families. Try saying that it doesn’t affect a family to the mom who has to figure out daycare and carpooling for all 3 kids since their partner is gone. Try saying that it doesn’t to the 3rd grader who didn’t see their mom in the stands at their first little league game. Try explaining how it doesn’t to the parents who just said goodbye to their 18 year old as they board that plane for overseas. The time does matter to us, and we are affected.
Constant battering of the military expenses. I have held my tongue to this point about all the sequestering business, even as I watched vital offices/services around base get closed during regular weekly business hours to help cut costs. But as I went home to MO this past weekend and saw billboards about the fast food strike and the “right to work”. As I have been seeing comments all over the place about how our military is ready to go, I was pondering our jobs and what effort we put into our work as a country. I thought about the respect that is given to those who choose to work in this [military] field without much regard except on big holidays. The military is ready to go at any time. That is what is so great about our Armed Forces. Tom is ready to go wherever America needs him to go (a little to eagerly in my opinion, but I am a little greedy about my hubster time.) This commitment to the oath they took to serve their country hasn’t come with full support of our nation. Constantly over the past year there have been talks about cutting benefits, bases, and military personnel. Here at Ft. Campbell they are going to be eliminating one of the most famous brigades (Band of Brothers) in the next year to hit the mark on the new budget. The scope of what that means, just boggles my mind. But regardless of the comments or the payback, they are ready to serve and willingly go every time. They do it with pride and honor. They do it without constant(or even regularly scheduled) pay raises. I think that is something that people should take note of before considering taking a swipe at the defense budget. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome benefits, and I am grateful for what we do get, but on the grand scale of things I am not sure that everyone has their facts straight when trying to say the military gets too much. P.S. There is no sitting out in the military. Have you heard the term AWOL and did you know that you can get arrested for it? Also, war doesn’t stop when you are asleep, eating, going to the bathroom, so a full-time job has a whole other meaning for service members.
I work in a field were we constantly talk about injustice and under-represented groups, which is one thing I love about my job. I love getting out there and connecting people to their passions no matter their past or situations. We all have a voice and story to be told, and I love that I am in an environment that allows me to interact with a variety of people. I think the military should be one of those under-represented communities that comes to the forefront of people’s minds because they are so misunderstood and disregarded too often. They also encompass many of the most common groups that folks think of when you say the word “diversity” or “social justice.” You cannot always tell if someone is military, and many don’t feel it necessary to boast about those achievements. But, just because they don’t want to talk about it, doesn’t mean we don’t need to take care of them in this country. Yes they are independent and have had experiences that are worse than most of our nightmares. That, I think, puts most people in this mindset that veteran’s and military folks can just take care of themselves because of all that they experienced. They can handle anything right? Well, maybe so, but that doesn’t mean we don’t owe them a little gratitude and a hand. We need to be more empathetic to this population and how our politics can affect them.
Because, quite frankly, they will fight to their death to save our county.
They would rather make sure they are ready and trained for their war life. They cannot control the whens/whys/hows of where they go; they can control how prepared they are once given orders. Why can’t we as a country be ready to support them in this endeavor?
Ask yourself are you ready to go to war? I know I am not. So I am thankful that service members are willing to put it all on the line so I don’t have to.
(I have a similar contempt for America’s treatment of teachers, but that is a soap box for another day.)
As I said, this was not intended to be a debate on whether we should go to Syria or not, but I hope it inspires you to think a little harder about what you say about the folks that do go and the support you provide them. Seriously, we should think about any group we talk about and seek to know the facts. We need to hear the stories of that group before we turn a blind eye. Obviously, I am biased, and I will own that. But I see what these men [in Tom’s unit] do every day and I think it is about time someone takes notice instead of throwing stones at what they don’t know or understand.
So here I am just trying to tell a little bit of our story to hopefully remove some barriers.