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.

THE CHASM |

April 28, 2007

THE CHASM
Name: C.M.
Posting date: 4/27/07
Husband: on his way home!
Milblog url: corpsdjour.blogspot.com

I've been away from The Sandbox. It was just too much. I am so thankful that this resource is here for the world to get a glimpse into the experiences of our military members, but it was a little too close and too personal and just too scary. But I am very happy to say that my husband is out. He is somewhere between there and home, and I'm ecstatic. Having him out of harm's way has afforded me the luxury of peace of mind, and the mental capacity to put my thoughts into words. And here they are:  I support our troops, I'm conflicted on the war, but mostly I'm frustrated by the isolation. 

I know I shouldn't complain that I get a call from my husband only twice a month, when my grandmother heard from her husband by letter only a handful a times a year during WWII. It's terrifying that death is a possibility, but I know the numbers pale in comparison to Vietnam. Watching your husband go off to war is as old as time --  think of the Spartan saying: "Come home with your shield or on it."  But for this war, it seems different...It's just that now I feel like it's only me. 

I'm one of the few wives that have the opportunity to live on base, but work in a professional capacity at a leading company, and I can't tell you the echoing depth of the chasm that separates my two worlds. I walk into the office to talk of stock options, tax cuts, weekend parties, laissez-faire political debates. If I hear about the war at all, it's typically someone priming me to say that it's awful, that they should all come home -- don't they know that can be offensive when my husband is risking his life to be there? I'll never forget the day that Al Zarqawi died and I mentioned the news to a college-educated co-worker at my fortune 500 company, and the response was..."Who?" Or when a war-age eligible man asked me if my husband would be coming home for Christmas. "Nope, unfortunately Iraq doesn't close shop for the holidays." It's not that they don't care, it's that it just doesn't affect them.

Then I hop the train back to my other life. When I come home, I pass through the guarded gates of my Marine Corps life into this parallel dimension. Back here the streets are full of women taking out the trash and climbing on roofs to put up the Christmas lights because daddy isn't home to do it. Back on base I always have a friend that is about to come home, and another that is about to leave. Back home, women are crying because they're afraid that their children won't remember their fathers. On my street, there is a rotation of "Welcome Home Daddy" signs that fill me with pride and smiles, but also make me want to cry because I want it to be my turn. Back home I know not to knock on a friend's door without calling first, lest she think that that knock is CACO on the other side telling her that her husband didn't make it. Back home, I have to close my front door, because hearing car doors shut brings up images of men in blue walking up to my door and delivering the bad news.

I don't want to complain, I have loved many experiences I've had with the MC life; it's fast and furious and always entertaining. My friends on the perpetual cycle of deployments do not feel sorry for themselves, and neither do I. But still, I'm left with a feeling of frustration, and it comes down to this: the burden is just too big to be borne by so few. 

Comments

Unfortunately you're right and there is quite a chasm between the dual lives of military spouses, and even the Reserve Component members.

You're also right about it being borne by so few. Less than 1% of the US population serves in the military. If the US was a dollar, less than a penny would represent those of us who serve. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I just find it an interesting fact that brings mixed emotions to many.

Glad to read your husband is out of harm's way now.

I just wanted to say Thank you for sharing the "other perspective" that is so easily overlooked. My wife too has lived through the same trial and tribulations being a spouse of a deployed member. The real unsung heros are the families left behind. They are the ones with the hardest part of going to war. My hats off to all the spouses who keep the home fires burning and sit in silent vigil waiting until the day we make it back home.
God Bless you and I'm glad your husband will be home soon.
Capt Douglas Templeton, Kabul Afghainstan

Thank you for your service.

C.M. ~ We ARE out here supporting your servicemembers AND those of you left behind while they are deployed. It is tragic and sad that there aren't enough of "us" though. I will NEVER understand how even one American citizen can choose (whether consciously or not) to turn their backs on you all and your loved ones. We cannot do enough for all of you but we try. We really do try.

I could not be more happy for you that your Marine will be home soon. I am eternally grateful to both of you for your diligence, service and patriotism.

thank you so much for what you are doing. i know how tough it is to see my best friends go to war, and i can't even imagine what you're going through. thank you.

So Few, so Proud and So Marine.. I liked what you wrote after getting back inside the base, I feel sorry for you abd your career with the civilians that don't understand or care about the war, the divide gets deeper and it will be harder and harder to talk to them that don't know and don't understand. Maybe that is why I am so quiet. Thanks for writing, glad you are going to be seeing your husband again.

I usually don't comment on the writings in The Sandbox. There's usually no need. But I understand a bit of what you're writing about. Ours was an Army and a Navy family, at times and depending on who was in. I just want to say thank you for your service. Both in caring for your husband and supporting his service and in serving as the chasm over the divide. Thank you.

glad to hear he's coming home. tell him a non-american is grateful to him and his fellow soldiers.

I am happy to hear your husband is returning home safely. The commitment of our service members and their families will stand as the greatest accomplishment of these times.

Thank you for writing this. My journey is just beginning and I have already discovered what you are talking about. My son is in his fifth week of Marine bootcamp. I had just finished a column for the paper I work for expressing similar sentiments when I read this - and cried of course.

I read the Sandbox everyday for the reason you stayed away. It has given me a better understanding of where my husband is and why he and so many others are over there supporting a cause that will keep us all safer here in America. Those people that don't understand have already forgotten what happen on Sept 11, 2001. I feel very sorry for them. Very sorry, because history will repeat itself if we forget.
Thank you for your sacifice, and welcome home to your husband.

It didn't make any difference to the war when Al Zakawi died, just like it didn't make any difference when thousands of others died. That's why those at home paid no attention. We don't like losing wars, but we are getting used to it. This is the second one in my lifetime, and I'm tired of it.

How can we be losing a war when we don't have anyone to fight?

All military objectives in Iraq were met by the time Bush did his famous "mission accomplished" speech. We should have left then.

Now we are trying to stop a civil war. We have no enemy.

Someone said the other day "this is a formula for surrender". To whom? Exactly who could we surrender to in Iraq?

We aren't doing war, we are breaking a military force by using it for police work.

Sorry did you have to sound so patronizing to everybody not serving in the conflict?
Especially to the "war-age eligible man" who simply asked if you husband was coming home for X'mas...

hey lady....just want to give you a hug and say God Bless You and your husband..hold your head up high...you have stayed the course! And you've never been alone - God is with you. all of you will be in my prayers! Semper Fi - carry on !!

Sam,
You are a bit off-base. When your soul is raw even a well-meaning but inept comment can hurt. Her response is perfectly understandable. It is highly peculiar that in a situation that is presented as threatening to our very existence we don't see a lot of Bushes, etc. enlisting. Leading by example is very effective - for good or for ill.

CM:
You are right that this burden is shared by so few. I am a senior at California State University – Northridge, a campus of nearly 30,000, and yet I count on one hand the number of people who personally know someone serving right now. With one of my best friends serving right now, my first prayers in the morning are for the safety of everyone in harm’s way right now. I am happy to hear that your husband is coming home safely, and pray that very soon many more people get to experience the same joy you must be feeling.

Words can't express the depth of my empathy for you. I can't imagine what it would be like, but your description gives me a good peek into the window of what a day in your life is like. I agree with Paul, though, and I struggle with the way to convey that without taking ANYTHING away from the men and women who risk their lives each and every day. I support each and every one of them, knowing that they do what they do with honor and pride. I would NEVER dream of saying anything against our service men and women. However, the reason that they are there and the way they came to be called up is one that makes me sick. The "president" has gone against everything that made the US a country which used to be respected and looked up to by most of the rest of the world. And the more we find out about it, the worse it gets. So I hope and pray that we lose no more lives (or as few as possible anyway) and that everyone who has gone over there (and served in other ways, here) knows just how much they are admired, thanked, loved, and honored by the rest of us here at home. And I wish for you and your husband a nice, quiet, relaxing evening, snuggled up, feeling the sun streaming in on your faces as you hold each other, and just breathe together. All my love - Donna

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