Tags: Military, Veterans
Hubby is away tonight. He signed up for a research panel for war veterans. That makes me sick to even type that. War veterans are people like my Grandaddy who spent his time fighting in Korea and the men I used to walk by at the VA Hospital. They are the guys you see on the news riding motorcycles or at the dedication of the newest war memorial. They should not be my husband. The fact that we have 20 something year olds who are now considered war veterans is mind blowing.
I don’t talk much about my experience being an army wife. It was not a role I ever saw myself filling or even committing to. It was a very painful time and for that reason I don’t discuss it or even remember it willingly. That all changed when hubby signed up for this panel. He said they wanted spouses to be a part of the panel too, and they would pay us.
Well, sign me up!
I was not granted access though. The focus group for spouses was full by the time Hubby got to talk to the recruiting team. I am not sure if he just told me that though, for fear that I might rant on and on about our experience being a newly married couple surviving thousands of miles apart.
Where would I begin? Perhaps I would want to discuss the lack of adequate communication to stateside families within our own FRG (Family Readiness Group), the fact that he was only suppossed to be gone for three months but that turned into eighteen, that every time I had to file paperwork for anything it would somehow get lost and no one knew how to help. Or how about that they pulled him out of school mid-semester and then refused to pay for the rest of his college education because he had gone over the time limit in years to receive benefits under the GI Bill because he had been deployed for them for too long. Or maybe we would discuss how when I did get to talk to my husband it would be at 4:00 in the morning with such a bad connection that we spent the entire fifteen minutes saying about three sentences each. Or perhaps they would like to have heard how they don’t want to give my husband or his comrades “veteran status” because they were not “full-time” soldiers. Well, they were full time in the dirt longer than many other units, I can tell you that! They watched three full time service units come in and leave before they received their orders to go home. I would have loved to have talked about that.
I think they would have liked to have heard about moving up our wedding, cancelling all the plans we had made, and watching my partner of two weeks walk away and not knowing if I would ever see him again. Maybe they would like to hear about how the day I graduated from college my husband was unable to attend because he was on a plane headed for a place I already hated, a place I loathed for him. Would they want to hear about us spending our first wedding anniversary apart and how we received word of yet another extension only two days before it? Would they sympathize when we told then that when he did fulfill his time commitment to the Army eight months into the deployment he was not allowed to come home due to stop loss and he spent another ten months in the sand?
Would they care that we spent a fortune on mailing packages and letters, paying for his own plane ticket to come home when he did get leave, and driving back and forth to Ft. Campbell multiple times to take care of paperwork that the personnel were too inept to help someone with over the phone? Would they offer reimbursement for that? While they were writing that check I would ask for the rest of his college tuition we payed out of pocket when they refused appeal after appeal to get his GI Bill reinstated. Again, he wasn’t given veteran status, so “there is nothing they could do”.
Would they listen as we told them how alone we both felt? Him being so far away in a strange and dangerous place and me being home alone in a new phase in my life without people who understood or knew what to do with me? Would they know how it felt to feel so abandonded and homesick? To feel forgotten? I don’t think they could understand.
Would they like to hear about how my husband had to drive an unarmoured vehicle on the most dangerous road in Baghdad for months before someone decided that too many men and women were dying and they must armour the vehicles before public scrutiny got too bad?
Do they care that my husband spent years recovering from the things he saw and heard and witnessed. Were they there during the night when his nightmares woke us both? How about that? Maybe it is a good thing I did not get to go. I obviously have a few things to say. It is a good thing they did not want a piece of my mind, they would have gotten a lot more than they bargained for.