Getting a Little Political

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.

Acascuse Me?!?

First of all, if you haven’t watched Pitch Perfect, you need to add it to your life like yesterday. Aca-amazing.

Second of all, this is going to be the post where I pull the Army Wife card. I have pulled back from writing this post when I am highly emotional, and I have debated whether to even write it ever. But I feel that it is a post that needs to be expressed.

Throughout my short career as an Army Spouse, I have been appalled on many occasions at the misunderstandings and perceptions that people in our nation have about the military.

Sometimes I have gotten so angry at an individual’s disdain and rudeness that I think I might throw up. Then I have to remind myself that many people just don’t know.

So let me educate you just a bit from my perspective. These are just a few things and definitely only hit the tip of the iceberg.

1. Men and Women of the military make a choice to defend our freedom and our country’s constitution. They endure months/years of demanding training both mentally and physically to be able to protect the rest of us in our very cushy lives.

2. Ultimately, they do not get to choose the missions they go to or where they are stationed. My husband got out of basic and then not even four months later was sent to Afghanistan. Not exactly how we imagined our second year of marriage.

3. Just because they are trained killers, doesn’t make them crazy and evil. No matter what the news/Capital Hill may say. My husband is one of the most loving, loyal and dedicated people I have ever met. The military is trying to help other nations keep the peace and find the means to better themselves. Our military gets a bad rap because that’s what sells newspapers. Because they wouldn’t want you to know that all over the world, units are supplying food, medical care, education, and just general support to help countries in their time of need.

4. They have the utmost respect for our country’s values. To hear these men and women talk about their pride or watch them when the national anthem is played-it leaves me speechless. Many of them learn how to care and be considerate of others because of what they have been through in the military. I think many people in our nation could take a lesson from what the military teaches about respect.

5. Not all people in the military are homophobes. Stop labeling them as such. That just makes you the judger.

6. Deployment is not vacation, even if they are surrounded by sand. There are no beachy umbrella drinks found here.

  • They can’t call home whenever they want. And when they do, it is not a private call. It may only last 30 seconds, but could last 30 minutes. But you never know when you get that call.
  • They can’t eat whatever they want. At Tom’s station there was one cook for the unit. So you ate when they served. If you happen to have night duty, you ate what family/friends sent you in care packages or MREs because the cook wasn’t on duty. Dietary choice is no longer a luxury. (However, my husband does love those MREs.)
  • My husband’s living situation was a room that is smaller than most walk in closets. This is where all of his gear and cot were. He now lives in a room the size of our bedroom with 7 other men (cots and all their gear).
  • They may not have typical modern toilets and have more of an outhouse situation going on. Can you imagine going in a port-a-potty for 9 months?
  • It isn’t a walk in the park. It’s dirty, temperatures cannot be controlled…most Americans would be miserable in their conditions. (I know I wouldn’t last one day…) But they do it willingly, many signing up for re-enlistment for a shot at another deployment.
  • They may have internet, but the connection isn’t as nice as they make it out to be on TV. Tom and I were only recently able to skype and even now the video is about 3 minutes behind on the audio which can make things weird while you are talking. Some places have it capable in their room and some don’t. Some have to wait in line to only have a few minutes online. And there are some people out there that believe that since they have internet that their deployments must be a breeze and not so horrible for the internet and Facebook must mean 1st world living.  Seriously?
  • They are away from their loved ones and miss out on holidays, birthdays, big milestones, and just every day life. This has got to be one of the biggest sacrifices of all.
  • I could keep going, but I won’t. Just know that they are making substantial sacrifices and don’t act like it is nothing just because you may not agree with why they are over there.

7. There are a lot of good things that come out of a military career as well. To name a few:

  • You have a paying job and benefits, which in this economy is a blessing.
  • Education can be paid for. Yay no debts!
  • You get to see and experience the world. I know I have really enjoyed the unique knick knacks that have been sent home from other cultures.
  • There is support for not just you, but your entire family. This includes benefits, housing, education, lifestyle, counseling, etc.
  • Great sense of accomplishment and pride. Not everyone can do what they do.

I am not trying to say that being in the military makes you better than those that aren’t. We each have our own thing, and Lord knows that not everyone would flourish in a military lifestyle. What I am saying is that our country needs to take a little more time understanding what the military endures to protect us.

This week I had to deal with a financial situation where we were being charged for something that we had thought we had taken care of. Since it was Tom’s card, the customer service rep said I was not an authorized user. Even after explaining the situation, giving them all the card information, and letting them know I had power of attorney, they still denied me the right to take care of it. And they just kept saying, “Well you can take this into a branch to speak with someone in person.” The closest branch for this organization was 163 miles away. Then they said that since I was not authorized to do so my deployed husband could just call and take care of the dispute. They said this even after I explained to them repeatedly that he was deployed.

Oh no girl, you didn’t. Them is fighting words.

This situation made me furious. It takes me a lot to get heated, but this just kind of pushed me over the edge. So naturally I started crying to the rep and blubbering “He is deployed” over and over again. I was totally trying to pull the Army Wife card, and it just wasn’t working! He can’t just call willy nilly, he is half-way across the globe! I can’t just make him appear to fix this issue. Believe me, if I had that power, I’d be on that. (FYI, they still did nothing to help me that day. Tom ended up having to call when he could to take care of it, which was uber frustrating for both of us.)

It is situations like that that just make me sad and angry. There are so many misconceptions around the military, so please seek first to understand their situations. Even if you don’t agree with their purpose, they have a unique story to tell and has a right to be heard. They make sacrifices that even I don’t always understand. I have to check myself sometimes too, so I know it is not an easy pill to swallow.

These sacrifices are made so that we can live as a free nation. Our history is based on acts that service members have diligently fought and died for so we could get to where we are. Take a moment to honor that, I mean you are on the internet and all. 🙂

Maybe if we all knew what was at risk, we would be more appreciative of what we have.

I know after this experience I am.

One thing I know is that the military is a proud group who is willing to fight for the country and you. But I will ask you, who is fighting for them?

So with that little nugget to munch on, I will move on to my craft.

Every year I take some time to make a blanket for my honors fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi. We have an auction every spring as a fundraiser, and my contribution, even after graduating 5 years ago, is mailing in a homemade crocheted blanket. So each year, I come up with some new design and pull out yarn that are some shade of yellow and purple. It’s like my yearly challenge to come up with something better than the year before. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my creativeness and skill; other times I am just hoping someone will bid at least $5.

This year was a good year.

I tried a new stitch-the treble crochet.

My pattern was:

1. 3 single white on each end

2. purple 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble, 1 single, 1 treble

3. 2 single white

4. repeat step two with yellow.

5. repeat step 3.

6. repeat step 2-5 until hit desired size.

I really like the effect of the treble.


And here is the full effect with Grace hogging the limelight as well.