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a post that matters

It’s so easy to forget.  That’s what I hated about this country while J. was deployed.  No one seemed to realize how real all of this war was (is) to so many people.  For most, its a debate – an argument to win.  For some of us, it’s a way of life. 

I was so emotionally wiped after 13 months of bracing myself for what I might see on the news, what I might hear among military friends, what J. might say the next time he called, or who might be on the other side of a ring at the door – I was so wiped, that when J. came home, I went into a sort of "ignorant" mode.  I wanted the bliss of all those words spilling out of reporters’ mouths not having anything to do with me anymore.  The anxiety comes back every time I watch it, hear it, or have to get into a discussion about it with a civilian friend.  And to cope, I turned it all off.  Put my fingers in my ears, and chanted "na na na na naaaa. I. Can’t. Hear. You!" (I literally did this when J. would start in on some news story).  J. still soaks it up.  He’s fascinated with what’s going on – especially now that it appears the U.S. will be spending more time and money on the very mission J. spent a year on (training the Iraqi Army).  He has a lot to say about it, and since he was there doing exactly what we’re proposing the U.S. do on a ramped up scale, I guess he should.  But it all gives me a stomach ache.

This week it hit me that I have to get my fingers out of my ears.  We’ve personally invested quite a bit.  But even more than that, I have friends who are still enduring the agony of this all.  This surge – these additional troops being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan – are not additional at all. We’re not culling from some new source (ie drafting) to scrape up more soldiers.  We’re putting more weight on the same exhausted people.  With barely a break from the last deployment, soldiers are leaving earlier than scheduled for the next one, and are staying longer…soldiers and their families are heroes for what they endure.  But they are not superhuman.  And yet, they’re continually asked to bear "just a little more."  The weight of worry, of separation, of the kind of conditions soldiers are subjected to for months on end …there’s only so much you can put on a person before it becomes too much.  Which is why its my duty – everyone’s duty – to help these families bear it a little more easily.

How?  By paying attention, and letting it really matter.  By sending a heartfelt letter, or a care package.  By listening to your friends in the military rant and cry, without judgement on this war (after all, military members are proud of the work they are doing).  By suppressing the urge to give advice, but just being a shoulder to lean on.  Simply put: by just caring.

KBG - I have had most of these same feelings. We moved to DC right after my husband redeployed you could almost believe there was no war going on. It was very odd being in a military community where no one gets deployed.
Anyway, well said. We all want them home, but it’s also very important to finish what you started.

Dawn - The latest news report was rather unsettling to me. My son is intel..somewhere in Iraq. I know he is ok for now.
Think I will pack a box today and send it Monday.

charlotte - Just rediscovered your blog and your wonderful writing…your crafts, your darling little E. love that picture of her kissing the bear in the shopping cart! thank you for sharing all these aspects of your life.

Andrea - You did a great job expressing the feelings that a lot of us are having or have had. Living in a community where I receive the “poor you” look when people find out my husband is in the military, or even worse, thinking that “supporting” the ones deployed means being angry at the President and demanding they all come home now. Demonstrations outside my husband’s office just make me feel angry instead of supported. I do want those deployed to be back home with their families; I got a taste of how it feels to be separated when Daniel was deployed (voluntarily). It hurts. So, we do what we can; we support those who are gone, plus the ones left behind, and continue to pray for a resolution.

Karen - I agree, you did a fabulous job expressing what so many feel after the news of an extension. I am still in the ‘angry’ stage and I am finding it difficult to find words that adequately describe exactly what I am feeling…your post helped. Thank you.

Christine - Great post Crystal!
It is amazing what we can do for each other. My fingers were in my ears for quite a while…but I too have opened up to conversations, news reports and feelings of conflict much more in the past 5-6 months. Having just moved into the military community (yesterday) I am expecting it to be different and I am sure I will have new feelings to deal with.
As we are preparing for his next deployment we just keep saying, “I know we will get through it!” I will probably send more packages than I did last time. I will have a group of friends that really understands what it is like to be going through this. (My non-military friends were SO great last time, but it is just different. Thanks L&P!) I think I will probably watch the news more this time because I am stronger now. I know how to tell the non-military friends and family that he is doing what he loves so he needs their encouragement and their packages too!

Helena - My Dad was in the Navy and my uncle the Army. When I was very small my Dad said not to worry until there is a man at the door. I have used this to keep me strong and helpful during the waiting. We have always done things for our military. Our care boxes always contained more than necessary to share with buddies. Chin up you always have friends. It is like a club of people who know it is an underlying thread of stress. We are here for you. e-mail if you are in need. Tons of e-kleenex for blowing off steam.

Missy - God bless you, your family, J. and every other American that has served this country. While we are not a military family, we NEVER pass by an American flag without mention of a GOD BLESS THE TROOPS for having given up so much. Even my 2 year old can say that! And we proudly fly our flag EVERY DAY! We won’t ever forget, or sweep it under the rug… we promise!

Laura Lynn - Thank you SO much for your husband’s service… and your sacrafice.
My husband and I have been participating in sending care packages… thru We were honored to be able to help in a small way.
It also made us think more personally about the reports we hear. We just got a phone call today from the serviceman we “adopted” :) He came home Friday…. and we’ve signed up to “adopt” another service man or woman.
HUGE hugz to you and yours!!!

Becky - I still have trouble listening to the news still and DH has been back since late 2004 without being called again, so far (and thank God.) As a matter of fact, I almost never do anymore and choose instead to read print from a variety of mediums so I can ignore the opinion on TV as well as print. It’s the only way I can stay “in tune” without being completely exasperated or thrown back into the wild emotions I had then.

CNA Schools - Thanks for sharing this information! It’s very useful for a lot people to grow up their mind.