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.


December 05, 2008

Name: City Girl
Posting date: 12/5/08
Fiance stationed in: Iraq
Milblog: Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal

This past week I spent a good amount of time talking about CPT G and the deployment, with spouses and parents of soldiers serving in the Middle East. Naturally, it has made this an especially emotional week. It saddens me to hear that throughout the various branches of the military, in various parts of the country, and at various stages of deployments, spouses, fiancées, girlfriends, and boyfriends experience the same feelings of loneliness and isolation.

By no means am I suggesting that this is the fault of our soldiers who
are deployed. I completely understand that they want nothing more than to provide love and affection and attention and to be at home with us. It is even harder for them since they do not have the chance to seek out support from loved ones. I guess I just hate to see that so many people are affected, beyond the soldiers, by this war. At no point do politicians take these things into consideration when making decisions about wars. Does anyone think, "Gee, I wonder how many children will celebrate their first birthday without their mother or father this year?" Of course not.

I am making this rant without being fully exposed to the military. Despite dating a commissioned officer for over three years, I can count on my hand the number of times I have stepped foot on a military base. Our long distance relationship, fortunately, helped to shelter me from the harsh realities of life in the military. Unfortunately, it also prevented me from seeing the harsh realities of life in the military. I am now attempting to get through this deployment without my Army for Dummies guide. I never thought that I would regret not living at Fort Knox while CPT G was there. I wonder whether I might have been better off if I knew what to expect and knew how much my life would change as a result of CPT G leaving.

I can already predict the flood of messages I am going to receive from readers offering their love and support upon reading this. I mean it when I say thank you. I realize you are far more experienced in being a military spouse and dealing with a deployment than myself. I admit, I probably should have developed and explored more social networking with military spouses. But I wonder how much it would help to develop relationships with people simply because we are both missing someone else in our lives.

I do have my war buddy, as I often call her. Her husband is with CPT G and they have worked together for nearly two years. She has been heaven-sent throughout this deployment. When the boys first left, we talked weekly on the phone and texted and facebooked almost daily. It was great to have someone to bitch about the military with, especially one who, like myself, was completely removed from the military world.

As this deployment has gone on, I have noticed that we speak less frequently. I think it is because both of realize that we do not need to lean on relative strangers in hard times. I am so incredibly thankful for all of the support and understanding that she has provided for me thus far. Despite our situation, we can only get as close as this deployment allows us. I, personally, feel that I need deeper-rooted relationships, from people who know me and understand me. What I need is to somehow make my closest friends and family understand what it feels like to wake up each morning wishing he was here, or even in the same hemisphere. I need them to know what its like to hear him speak of his men and the needs of the platoon.

I was naïve 10 months ago. I figured that since we lived 3,000 miles apart for three years and made it work that there would not be much of a difference once he actually left. I did not realize the changes that would occur when one person is making decisions about what to do over the weekend and the other is making decisions about how to protect a village of people. I thought that we would talk weekly, email daily, miss each other hourly, and think of each other constantly. Instead, we speak sporadically, and oftentimes force conversation just because we have the time to talk.

I love those days when I say nothing and he is able to bitch and moan and help me understand what he is going through. Some of my favorite conversations have been when he is so consumed with work that he unknowingly opens up to me about everything that is going on. It makes me feel so much closer to him.

With more than two-thirds of the deployment over, the end is so close, yet so far away. Now more than ever I need to have patience. I have never had too much trouble waiting to see CPT G -- until the very end. When our next visit is within a reasonable countdown (I have stretched the reasonable for this one), my every thought and desire is consumed with running into his arms. The promises of this reunion, more than anytime before, will make concentrating on reality extremely difficult.


Thank you for writing. You speak for many who are waiting or have waited for a loved one to return from war.

My loved one returned from Vietnam on December 8, 1970, when we were both 21 years old. I picked him up at the airport at 3 a.m. that morning.

We didn't get married but did remain friends. I was the one he asked to see before he died last April in a VA hospital. All I could do was love him all those years and know that he loved me. Simple, but not easy. I'd do it again. The war changed him. Living with him after he returned changed me. Once when I called a Veterans' Hotline for help and told our story, a veteran said to me, "You are a veteran, too."

That may not sound quite like the love and support you predicted, but it is.

May you and your soldier find the all the love and support you need when he returns.

these are strange,isolated conflicts quite hidden like the costs,wounded and dead from the people.2 of my children have done 2 deployments each.i did nam.i support them as best i can, on deployment and return.talking with others, i get wtf faces.reach out when you need to, we'll try and be there.mike

to am,my son just returned from iraq.his wife was waiting at the airport and said she just lost it.crying and crying but other waiting women helped her.3am,december.sounds lonely.stayed involved [connected]30+ years.i'm sorry that many of us came back too messed up to live a normal life.thanks for being there for him. mike

I am waiting patiently for the love of my life to come home to me in two weeks! I love Lance !

To mike, thanks so much for being here now. good to hear that your son returned safely and that he and his wife have your support and understanding. I appreciate your kind words.

Paradise Gained, Paradise Lost?

I wish you had been with me in the North Tower on the 34th floor. My dad was at Pearl Harbor 67 years ago, yesterday.
You don't know what suffering is. Eat a a can of beans, please.

I'm sorry for your pain Kirk, but that certainly isn't this girl's fault. Go flaunt your martyrdom at therapy.

Kirk...people experience different things in life and suffering is different to each and everyone one of us. I have suffered two very traumatic events in my life and you don't see me talking like that to people who are hurting.

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