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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Open Letter From an Army Wife

Jill [somewhere in the mid-west]
25 March 2008
Wife of SFC [somewhere in Iraq]
HQ, 1/151 Infantry –Indiana National Guard


Can you imagine. . .

Your husband is in Iraq and you are sitting in the living room with your children, watching your favorite television show and suddenly “BREAKING NEWS” – your local newscast personality is on your TV screen, seemingly shouting at you “Another Indiana National Guardsman killed in Iraq. More at 11. . . ”.

Your kids look at you. . .

You look at the TV. . .

Then at the phone. . .

Surely if it were your husband someone would have called you before it made it on the 11:00 news. . .

Wouldn’t they???

All you News people out there, let me ask - ARE YOU CRAZY!!! You have no idea what that feels like, and I hope you never have too. In an instant, your heart stops, your stomach is in your throat and tears are already streaming down your face. . .

But you can’t let the kids see that you’re the slightest bit upset by this.

In the midst of all the negative press about the war and all the angry debates over bringing the troops home, has anyone stopped to think about how this all affects the families of the soldiers???

I’ve heard over and over how it takes a special person to be a soldier, but what about their families? Let me tell you, they are pretty special too! I know, I’ve been married to a soldier for years and I get it. . .

But then I have also been the soldier, which gives me a different perspective than most. It is not easy to let go and let your soldier go off into a combat zone, but, then you don’t have a choice. The decision has already been made by the soldier and the soldier (Your Soldier) must have strong feelings about what he is doing or he would not be serving in some capacity in the military.

As a soldier’s family it is our place to be strong and totally supportive of the soldier, whether or not you support the war. It does, however, look really bad when a soldier’s family talks bad about the war. If you have nothing good to say then say nothing! The media is doing a good job keeping the negativity alive all by itself. They don’t need our help, but think about this. . .

Would our soldiers want to go back if they didn’t think they were doing some good?

We must have faith and trust in what our soldiers believe. Recently, I was fortunate to hear LTC Brian Corneilson speak on “The Truth About Iraq” and one thing he said stuck in my mind. Everyday a line forms outside this one building, people waiting to get applications to become Iraqi police. EVERYDAY there is a new line with new people, waiting. This line has been blown up at least 3 times by suicide bombers, killing many, many people. Would you willing go stand in a line that you knew could get you killed?? These people did and still do because they feel that strong about governing themselves. Our soldiers feel this and they see this from the civilians they come in contact with on a daily basis. The good they see and feel over shadows the negativity that we see in the media and therefore we have to trust our soldiers and show them support.

How can we support our troops?

The soldiers no longer need every bar of soap or tube of toothpaste mailed to them. Life in Iraq for the troops has progressed to a more comfortable state of living, so what we need to do is support the families. We must do everything we can to minimize a soldier’s distractions. A soldier that is not totally focused on what they are doing puts himself and those around him at risk. If a soldier is in the middle of a mission but is thinking about how depressed his mother was the last time he talked to her or he is upset because he can’t be home for his sister’s wedding or birth of a child –this is dangerous. We must minimize their distractions as much as possible.

Your soldier is already upset he can’t be there so don’t make it worse.

Tell him it’s OK. . .

You understand why he can’t be there and what he is doing IS important. Your husband doesn’t need to know the basement is flooded. He DOES need to know there is a support network in place at home and his family is using it. Whether it is your extended family or the Family Readiness Support Group for your unit, someone is there to help.

If you know a family who has a deployed soldier, check on them. Some people are shy about asking for help, so show up, often, volunteer your services, let them know you care and aren’t going away. This is the best way you can support our deployed soldiers.

A person’s outlook and attitude changes when the war gets personal. They start paying attention to the news, forming their own opinions and wanting to get involved. The more people we get involved, the better it is for our troops.

People ask me how I can let my husband go back to Iraq. . .

I say “How can I not?”.

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