The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


October 09, 2006

Name: Molly Pitcher
Posting date: 10/9/06
Spouse stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url:

Technology has made this a new war both for our soldiers and for those of us who "also serve." I don't often agree with my fellow alumnus's political opinions, but I think the recent Doonesbury series on email and spouses is pretty on target. DH never tells me when he is going out or when he is going to be back. First of all, it is a violation of OPSEC (Operational Security). Second of all, it just produces unnecessary worry. However, I know there are plenty of couples who are constantly online together, and DH and I communicate pretty regularly thanks to the internet.

As Trudeau highlights, the communications technology can be a mixed blessing. When you hear from your loved one every day and then suddenly not for 48 hours, you begin to picture all sorts of horrors. Of course, you remind yourself that your information is up to date -- that you would have heard already if tragedy had struck -- but still you worry, tensing at every noise. Was that a knock at the door?

On the flip side, the technology can play into the soldiers' paranoia as well. It is 10:00 pm there, why didn't my wife answer my IM? Where is she? Much of our force is young (as is usually the case for warriors) and the young tend to be less secure in their relationships.

On the balance, though, I like the webcams and IM-ing -- especially now, so DH can see Lilah's growth. I can't even imagine what life was like for our grandmothers during earlier wars, when they were lucky if a letter made it through once a month or so, and the soldiers were often away for years at a time.


Very insightful comments! I have two daughters with husbands in the military. Both of whom have been deployed to Iraq--the youngest has a husband going over very soon for his second tour.

"War is hell"
~General Sherman

I was a submarine sailor's wife for 18 years - when communications were not allowed unless they were in port. It was a very different experience when my son was on a carrier and could email daily from the Gulf, and when my other son was in Iraq and could even call me on occasion! Bless you for the difficult life you live - the one that seems normal to you - the one most civilians would not understand. Do people still comment "You must have known what you were in for marrying a soldier..."? Like anyone could imagine what it would be like - or that knowing in advance would make it easier! No - you stand right alongside your soldier as a hero! You keep life sane in insane situations. You give him something to come home to. You surround your children with a sense of safety regardless of how uncertain the times are. You are the unheralded hero and you deserve as much thanks as anyone in uniform! Hugs & prayers!

Both my husband and I are military. He is currently in S. Korea and I'm bound for Iraq here pretty soon, leaving our newborn daughter behind. So far, technology has been a Godsend for us both. Without it Brian would hardly ever get to see his baby girl. Without it, by the time I get home, we will not have seen or heard one another's voice for nearly two years, possibly three, depending upon my tour. It's not the same as holding my husband, but it's better than reading cold words on a piece of paper a month after they've been written.

Molly, I too am currently the spouse a deployed soldier. I understand the sounds in the night, and the wandering thoughts of the class A uniform showing up on your doorstep. These are the things of nightmares. A word though about angels: Every day I am surrounded by people who don't know. People I work with, people in the grocery store, people I enjoy as friends; who cannot fathom no matter how hard they try the life we lead. They cannot understand the idea of "being okay" with your husband going away for over a year's time. In an attempt to say something comforting they will tell me "Well, at least it is only a year." or "You are so strong!" I have even been asked (by a good friend) "How could he even think about leaving his family for that long?!" (I was astounded at this one.) Every day I choose to listen or not, be impressed or not by these people. I choose not. It will not be my job in this lifetime to educate these people on what is understood by a grand many. "Soldier" is in one's heart and soul. It makes up their very being. The angels in my life are those who truly do understand. Those who have been there and believed in their time as I do now that their spouse was the hero, and not a victim of an over-zealous government. Those who do remember and know that I am not "So strong!" but scared. Those who understand that a 12 month tour takes him away from home for 16 months. Who understand scared. Scared for what may happen, but also who understand proud; of what good is happening, the good he is doing. Proud of the man he is. Seek out your angels, because there is no greater relief than to know that someone else "gets it." when you really need an ear. They will be home soon enough, and in the meantime, I will continue to keep him posted on the kids, school, the dog, the house, the lawn etc, etc, etc. but not the bills, the tears, the fears. I am sure you will too. God Bless.

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