Hope

hope that no matter what difficulties arise in family, health, or finances, a family can survive it and get to the other side. Don't ask me to answer 'how' in one response, rather it's an evolving idea. Solutions present themselves as you go along the path. As you seek the thing it is you want to achieve, so will an idea come to you. I do not attribute it to a god or a religion, though I may have one or both of those. This is life. Hope. Live with me,... 

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Entries in 101st airborne (5)

Tuesday
Jun242014

From Our Perspective Back Home 

"My fellow citizens, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations, to disarm Iraq, to free it's people, and to defend the world from grave danger. On my orders, coalition forces have began striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war...we will bring freedom to others and we will prevail." -George W. Bush

I don't necessarily love the focus on the imbedded media reporters in this documentary, but since they are the ones making this, there you go. It does highlight how it felt to watch the news reports constantly rolling in about the war in Iraq in 2003 during my husband's deployment, it does have the concentrated narcissistic media personality focus we sorted through to get information about our soldiers, it is exactly what we saw back home to try and make sense of what was going on. Watching it again still has the exact same terrifying feeling as it did then. At 24 minutes is where I remember feeling initially mortified, the Shock and Awe bombings on Baghdad and President Bush coming on air to announce what all of us already knew. That in itself is worth a watch, to hear what he had to say about why we were fighting, from today's perspective.

"To all the men and women of the United States Armed Forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world, and the hopes of an oppressed people, now depend on you. That trust is well placed. The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery, the people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military." 

*"From Our Persective Back Home" is a continuation of Her Story, which can be read in it's entirety here.

Thursday
Jul112013

Then It Was All Up To Me

One moment he is in country, the next moment he is ripped out suddenly, leaving brothers behind is not what they are trained to do. Transitioning from a war zone to a home with three small children in three days was not the best of situations for a combat experienced infantryman. He relinquished his weapon, he boarded that jet. You could say he was lucky, and nobody was prepared to deal with what would come of it all...

Friday
Jun012012

Snap: Iraq 2003 

Recently a pic turned up from a friend my husband served with of his truck in Iraq....Yep, that's him, right in the middle of that war. Fascinating to me. 


Monday
Sep262011

Her Story

The Distraction of Army Service


As we enjoyed our third daughter growing at home, news surrounded the post 9-11 scene in America. Rumors of wars and threats emanating from Iraq were increasing. It was then our family took a holiday trip back to Texas, in January of 2003. We visited Austin where my parents had recently moved. We visited the Alamo in San Antonio and enjoyed the company of relatives that were normally so far away. Having been on our own in Tennessee was marvelous, seeing close family intermittently was more appropriate and workable for us. We were growing together as a new little family so much more, and it felt healthy. This little jaunt back to Texas had come about suddenly, it was good timing according to my husband's unit command. How naive I was not to realize why. During our long drive back home he got a call on our cell phone. It was "the" call. Friends from his unit on the other end confirmed, as soon as my husband returned, they were to prepare for deployment. I don't know why as an infantryman's wife I was stunned into disbelief. I looked at him as we drove, full of fear and sadness. It was our first deployment as a couple, well at all. It was HIS first combat deployment. This was not the back forty or a training exercise, this was it, the Middle East. I had a couple more weeks left with him, and they were not as he or I would have imagined they would be. No. Pre-deployment is a horrible thing. Couples go through a cycle that is not gratifying at all...what I imagined would be some surreal time of staring longingly into each other's eyes and cherishing every moment (laugh out loud) was not so...

"Stage 1. Pre-deployment

The onset of this stage begins with the warning order for deployment. This stage ends when the Soldier actually departs from home station.

This stage is characterized alternately by denial and anticipation of loss. As the departure date gets closer, spouses often ask: "You don't really have to go, do you?" Eventually, the increased field training, preparation, and long hours away from home herald the extended separation that is to come. Soldiers energetically talk more and more about the upcoming mission and their unit. This "bonding" to fellow Soldiers is essential to unit cohesion that is necessary for a safe and successful deployment. Yet, it also creates an increasing sense of emotional and physical distance for military spouses. In their frustration, many spouses complain: "I wish you were gone already." It is as if their loved ones are already "psychologically deployed." 

As the reality of the deployment finally sinks in, the Soldier and Family try to get their affairs in order. Long "honey-do" lists are generated dealing with all manner of issues. At the same time, many couples strive for increased intimacy. Plans are made for the "best" Christmas, the "perfect" vacation, or the "most" romantic anniversary. In contrast, there may be some ambivalence about sexual relations: "this is it for a year, but I do not want to be that close." Fears about fidelity or marital integrity are raised or may go unspoken. Other frequently voiced concerns may include: "How will the children handle the separation? Can I cope without him/her? Will my marriage survive?" In this very busy and tumultuous time, resolving all these issues, completing the multitude of tasks or fulfilling high expectations often falls short. 

A common occurrence, just prior to deployment, is for Soldiers and their spouses to have a significant argument. For younger couples, especially those experiencing an extended separation for the first time, such an argument can take on "catastrophic" proportions. Fears that the relationship is over can lead to tremendous anxiety for both Soldier and spouse. In retrospect, these arguments are most likely caused by the stress of the pending separation. From a psychological perspective, it is easier to be angry than confront the pain and loss of saying goodbye.

However, the impact of unresolved Family concerns can have potentially devastating consequences. From a command perspective, a worried, preoccupied Soldier is easily distracted and unable to focus on essential tasks during the critical movement of heavy military equipment. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to a serious accident or the development of a Soldier stress casualty who is mission ineffective. On the home front, significant spousal distress interferes with completing basic routines, concentrating at work, and attending to the needs of children. At worst, this can exacerbate children's fears that the parents are unable to adequately care for them or even that the Soldier will not return. Adverse reactions by children can include inconsolable crying, apathy, tantrums, and other regressive behaviors. In response, a downward spiral can develop in which both Soldier and spouse become even more upset at the prospect of separating."

My husband was home and I wanted it to stay that way. I realize we were in the wrong profession for that to be a realistic expectation, but I was an idealist. I had hoped after he joined it would be the years our country wasn't going to get into any war. Rewind to the year he enlisted, February 2001. Three months after his jump training ended and our arrival to the first duty station, September 11 occurred. The beginning of my little idealistic bubble, bursting. Back to January 2003, three kids and a close call on a scary delivery, I was preparing to say goodbye indefinitely to the man who endured with me and the love of my life. 

 

*This entry is a continuation from the complete story of our daughter's life. See the entire 'Her Story' here

 

Pre-Deployment information from: 'The Emotional Cycle of Deployment: A Military Family Perspective' By:  LTC Simon H. Pincus, USA, MC, COL Robert House, USAR, MC, LTC Joseph Christenson, USA, MC, and CAPT Lawrence E. Adler, MC, USNR-R

Monday
Jul042011

Get Over Your Hill, See What You Find There


100, 200 300,... he showed up today for another soldier. One who died putting himself in the line of fire to help the rest of his men, Lt. Michael Murphy. It was a typical day, and a workout familiar to him. Push ups, pull ups, and running. A great reminder of how the days of PT and getting to formation early felt. Everyone stretched, warmed up, and did their workout. People cooled down, talked about the goal of raising enough money to buy a wounded soldier a home, and this disabled soldier looked on and participated. For a few moments he forgot about the ptsd, the traumatic brain injury. He forgot about the struggle to pay a mortgage, or keep his cool around his kids. His body worked, his mind followed. A few of the guys finishing up noticeably were doing the workout with a weighted vest. He walked over to an unused vest and picked it up, and found himself in Iraq.

...Cavalar and flak vest lying next to him on the floor, there crouching beside his hum-vee, shaving. He and his section were ordered to prepare for chemical attacks, he had to have a clean shave for the gas masks. They had made it to Fallujah at this point, looking for the Iraqi soldiers that were bombing their supply. Suddenly one mortar went off, then another,... hitting closer and closer each time. Quickly he finished that shave and threw on his helmet and vest, as soon as he wrapped it around his chest he watched the next truck beside him take a hit that threw him back against the hum-vee and knock him out. That would be the last time he saw a couple of his comrades. The gunner shook him awake and said, "can you drive!?" Half aware he drove out of there. Eight years later, fighting with the veterans association for help with his TBI from the incident....eight years later trying to manage his own symptoms and memories. Eight years later showing up to support his fellow veterans and challenge himself again. This time, to make it through the day, keep a job, get through this workout, keep his sanity and somehow feel good.

That vest, the weight of it in his arms and around his chest. Physical body memory released at the most unexpected time followed with words. 

I am glad I was there to hear his story.