Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heart For A Soldier

A little over a year ago I was in a relationship with a Marine. I used to think that being a military personnel's significant other was hard. Now that I am at both ends of the spectrum at once, being both in the military through ROTC (if one can count ROTC as military) and in a relationship with a soldier, I have found that I was right. When you are in the military you spend all day busy doing military things. Granted, there are many times when Command likes to play 'hurry up and wait,' but you are still busy with your military buddies. You may long for home you may be tired, sore, achy, and afraid, but you have your family at home.

However, the whole perspective changes when you switch sides to those waiting at home. Those at home somehow have to deal with the stress of a job outside of the military, take care of the family, take care of themselves, and somehow still function while missing and worrying about their loved one constantly. You learn not to get hyped up for any upcoming promises or plans because, chances are, the military will end up taking them away from you and filling them in with some new mission.

Every day that my brother or Carl was overseas I spent in the lounge at work pouring over the newspaper, praying I would find some good news about their unit while, at the same time, praying I would not hear of any horrors occurring in their area. We would sing a song in choir that so much as related to military in the least bit and I'd have to leave during class to hide the fact that I was about to cry. A song would come on the country radio station while I was driving home in the car and suddenly I would be crying so hard that I couldn't breathe. It's an emotional toll that military families have to pay over and over again.

Letters. Letters are my sanity like none other. I think the vast majority of what little writing skills I have come from how many letters I have written over the years of my indirect involvement with the military. While he was in basic, my brothers letters were all that kept me going. This was partially due to the fact that they kept me busy while I tried to decipher his impossible handwriting for hours.

I seem to have lost my train of thought so I am going to start again with a new mindset, sorry for the random jumping around this is just a topic that takes me over more than I notice. There are times when I can't even go to a movie, for example Brothers and not cry simply because the Marine in the movie is a POW in Afghanistan and my brother is going to Afghanistan in a month.

There is a certain sense of pride that comes with military as well. Not just by being in the military, but by being connected to it somehow. I see a soldier in the airport and I cannot help but go over to him or her and shake their hand, thanking them, and having a fun casual conversation with them about what they do and my brother and my involvement with the services. It's a sense of family, of sacrifice, of love...

The emotional stress that our service men and women feel upon returning home ends up being reflected onto their family members as well. After a return home, most soldiers end up distant from their family. They do not seem to care as much as they used to mostly because they have learned that they do not need to tap dance as much as they had been; life is too short to tap dance for people who won't love you unless you do. Civilians do not like it when people stop tap dancing for them. We like it when people will do anything to make us happy and when our soldiers come home exhausted from a deployment, having seen horrors we cannot even begin to imagine, and don't tap dance for us anymore we take it to heart. We only see how stressed we have been while they were gone and how it effected us. We cannot see past our own pain and our own hurt. This might contradict my earlier point about how it is more difficult to be the one at home, but I still stand by that point. A soldier has lived both as a civilian and a soldier. Most civilians have only experienced civilian life. Soldiers come home and their families cannot understand what they have gone through. They are being pushed away by their soldiers and unable to understand why. It is so difficult to have someone you have been waiting for and praying for for the past year just push you away and treat you like dirt and you don't understand why. It causes stress in homes and it causes stress in people. It hurts.

The worst part, to me, about being a military family member waiting at home is not the lack of communication, nor the stress, nor the tears; its the nightmares. I used to have nightmare upon nightmare and some days I would even be in class and just daydream (er...daymare) and there was nothing I could do about it. "How could something that is not reality effect you so much," you might wonder, but it is the idea that this is a nightmare that can actually happen that frightens families the most. I'll tell you my nightmare.

Imagine: you are are sitting at home working or writing a letter to your soldier overseas. It is a rather normal day and you find yourself glancing at their picture multiple times as you work hoping and praying that they are safe. There is a knock at your door. You get out of your chair and walk to the front door. Peering through the window, you are able to see two soldiers. Already, the truth has sunk in. The door opens with your hand though you do not register that you are opening it as you blankly stare at the soldiers. You invite them in and you hear them tell you the news, but the details do not hit you right away. The soldiers give their condolences and walk out the door. You shut the door behind them then feel the lack of air fill your lungs as you crash to the floor in tears curled up in a ball as pain overcomes your entire body and nausea arises in your stomach. The words of the visiting soldiers play over and over in your head as you cry with your whole heart and soul to God. Killed in Combat.

If you have ever been to a military funeral they are something you don't easily forget. The 21-gun salute, the draped flag over the coffin, the presentation of the flag to the family. The soldiers standing proud and true next to their fellow soldier, guarding and protecting each other even in death. Military funerals are a dark beauty to behold, though not something I would ever wish on anyone.

There is nothing, however, like the military family. Only in the military family can you meet a complete stranger and within 5 hours you are already planning a way for them to pick you up from the airport and stay in a hotel with you for a few night so you can go to your loved one's homecoming or graduation and so you both can afford a place to stay. The military family is the most protective group I have ever met. If there's one thing that has effected me through my years of being in this family, it's the strength of these friendships. All the soldiers overseas are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. The breaking of my pseudo brother's or sister's heart from the loss of a loved one is like a shattering of my own heart. My heart goes out to all of those waiting at home and all of those whose heart is over seas. God bless our troops and their families at home.

Until Next Time!
McConnell Out

"He has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listend to their cries for help." Psalm 22:24


Margaret said...
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