Posted October 10, 2008on:
I’m writing this in response to a request on FriendFeed to talk about what DH’s upcoming deployment means to me.
This is the first deployment for him (and hopefully the last since he will retire when he returns.) We are still a over a year away from the actual deployment, which means a year to worry and prepare.
I want to say upfront that I do not speak for every military spouse. In many ways, I’m not the typical spouse at all living a typical military spouse’s life. So, I can’t imagine that I speak for the thousands of other families out there affected by deployments.
My husband is in the Army band. Sounds like a soft life, huh? But he knows how to fire a weapon, has went through basic training, and basically is a soldier just like every other soldier out there. When he deploys, he’ll be going where the troops are, providing entertainment and support. This is an incredibly important job because morale is a huge thing for all those soldiers so far away from home.
To me it means that every day he is away I will live with worry and fear. Not just fear for his safety, although that will be there, but also fear for his sanity. I know that our soldiers see and experience things that most of us will never begin to understand and I hope that we’ll both be strong enough to endure the consequences. That I’ll be good enough, compassionate enough, kind enough to deal with someone who may be changed in subtle ways when he finally returns to me.
For me, it will mean dealing with all the responsibilities of a household on my own. We don’t have children and I’m even more grateful at this point that we don’t. I have a great deal of respect for all the spouses that have to be both mother and father. But my husband has overseen our finances for most of our married life, a responsibility I was glad to hand over. I have to relearn things like balancing a checkbook and develop a system to make sure everything gets paid on time and whatever else needs to be done gets done, like oil changes, lawn care, etc. I’ll admit that I’ve been very spoiled to have someone take care of so many of the details of daily life while I’ve pursued my career.
I will have to live without easy access to my best friend for a year. My husband is the one person I trust completely in this world. By nature, I’m shy and it is hard for me to make friends and even harder to get to that deeper level of trusting, safe friendships…particularly when one moves as much as we have in the past nine years. I hope that I can find a way to move closer to family because I’m going to need their support and love while he’s away. This is hard for me to admit and accept, because I like to consider myself independent. But all the things that I enjoy doing with him – going to movies, eating out, going for drives, talking, etc. – will be put on hold. My life as I know it, will wait breathlessly for the day when he is home safe.
Nothing will be the same when he deploys. Yet, I would never ask him to shirk his duty to his country. I will bid him good-bye with tears, but also with pride that he has served his country for the past 18 years. It has meant sacrifice for both us, but I have never once regretted marrying an Army man. While the military doesn’t define him or our lives, it still has offered me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I’d never met him.
When I say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing our national anthem or stand when the American flag passes in a parade, I am reminded of all that has occurred in our history and I am proud to say that I am an American. You will never see me at a war protest or find me burning our country’s flag. There are too many good, honest, decent Americans who have given so much to this country. I could never be so disrespectful.
So while I will worry, have sleepless nights, live with my cell phone in my hand, I am glad to do what little I can to support my husband and all the others who want to make sure evil will not be allowed to continue. Call me idealistic, but there is true evil in the world and we cannot turn a blind eye to it or attempt to negotiate with it. Neither will work. I hope and pray that someday there truly will be a world where people live in peace with each other. We’re not there yet and until we are, we must do fight against things like genocide, terrorism, cruel dictatorships, etc. If we turn our back we are no better than those who engage in such activities.
I end this post with this thought. If you know where it comes from, leave a comment. Although it was said more than 40 years ago, it is still true today.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.