My husband has been home from a 12 month deployment to Afghanistan since January.
We’ve had 8 months of reintegration joys, challenges, and adjustment.
Living overseas for 4 and a half years, most of the people I interacted with on a daily basis were military families, veterans, or civilians employed by the base (meaning they were well acquainted with our lifestyle.) Since moving back to ‘The States’ this summer, I’ve had some startling conversations with folks who are not directly associated with the military.
“Oh it must be so great to have him home!”
Well, yes and no – we actually have to work very hard for our family’s reintegration.
“I don’t know how you did that – I can hardly wait until 6 o’clock when my husband gets home!”
Well, you just do what needs to be done and try your best to stay positive.
“How wonderful to be able to travel around Europe for so many YEARS!”
Actually, we are a young family on a budget, trying to save for college for three kids.
PS. We also bought a new minivan, had our third baby, and all while qualifying for WIC.
And after we moved to El Paso…
“So why are you buying a house? You know you’ll only be here for 3 years.”
We lived in 3 different apartments while we lived in Germany.
3 years under one roof (WITH my husband) sounds like an eternity to me.
“Oh you’re military. So you won’t be here very long.”
So. I guess you don’t want to be friends then?
I am not trying to be hurtful. So before anyone’s feelings ARE hurt, I would like to say that I think there is still simply a disconnect between the average American civilian and the war that is still going on for so many military families.
Which also means the families directly connected to them are probably still in shock.
Their close friends and extended family are processing grief along with them.
And in the next week, most of the base where they are stationed will attend a memorial.
So although the news network reports a seemingly small number, the statistics aren’t just a head count.
The cost of war is felt by all of us. And my heart is heavy for everyone surrounding these troops.
So many of our service members are deployed right now.
So many of our service members are coping with wounds – visible and invisible.
So many of our service members are still adjusting to life after a deployment.
And then there are their families.
The ones hauling little ones to the post office to mail packages.
The ones taking care of the house, the car, the bills, the kids, all by themselves.
The ones watching 3 + 3 extra kids so a friend can go to the dentist.
The ones trying so hard to figure out their new adjusted normal.
If I can share just one piece of advice for civilians?
Be a source of encouragement and action.
Personally, Professionally, and Practically.
When you see a frazzled mom in the grocery with three kids?
“Keep going hunny – only 2 more hours til nap time right?”
When you see a Spouse trying to find employment after a move?
“Can I help you with your resume? I think I have a friend who is hiring!”
When you discover a family with a service member deployed?
“Hey – hows about I keep your grass mowed for you?”
War. is a horrible terrible thing.
But it is part of the cost of freedom.
Americans have so many freedoms that we daily take for granted.
It’s time to be thankful for them.
Not just assume they are entitled to you.