Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I want for Christmas is my Soldier

The Holidays are upon us and getting through them is very difficult, both for our Soldier, our families and ourselves.  During this time, and throughout the year, people tend to try to offer words of comfort.
People say many things to you once they realize you are the wife/sister/mother/brother/dad/grandparent of a deployed Soldier.  While we for the most part, realize that most folks are trying to be comforting, sometimes we just don't take it that way.

Some of the more recent ones I've encountered are:

"Is he somewhere dangerous?"

There is often some tongue biting that comes with the answer to this question.  Is he at home?  Or is he in a war zone?  If he is in a war zone, then yes, it's dangerous.  And honestly, the reminder that he could come home maimed, injured (mentally or physically) or worse, isn't really something that I like to be reminded of.

"Oh, well at least he's not in __________."

I left the space blank because it doesn't really matter where he is.  There is no ClubMed vacation going on for any soldiers, deployed anywhere.

"Is he going to be home for the holidays?"

If I've already told you that he's gone for a year, and it has not yet been a year, don't ask this.  One of the last things we need is to be reminded that our loved one is not going to be here.  Chances are pretty good that if he is going to be home, I'm going to be so psyched, I'm going to tell everyone, everywhere, and wear clothing that shout; MY SOLDIER IS COMING HOME!

"I don't know how you are getting through this.  I never could."

Well, that's what we thought too, until it happened to us.  You do what you have to do, when you have to do it.  Period.  Truthfully, we don't know how we are doing it either.  However, there are still bills to pay, children to clothe and feed and often, a job for the loves ones left behind.  Staying extra busy is seeming to help me, personally.

"Doesn't he know how hard this is on you?"

Yes.  Yes he does.  And it's harder on him.  Guilt Trips directed towards our Soldiers are not appreciated.

"You must miss him so much."

Why yes.  Yes we do.  The majority of us adore and love our soldier.   Again, the reminder that we miss him super much is fantastic.

"So where exactly is he?"

Sorry, we can't really tell you.  There is a great security measure put in place, called OpSec.  Operation Security and the less we know, the better sometimes.  Knowing more can make you worry more, put your soldier in danger and his entire squad.  Remember the theory of Big Brother?  Well, he exists and not just in our country.   If we give you an ambiguous answer, please respect that.

"Can you go visit him?"

Really?  To a war zone?  So now our children might have to face the loss of two parents and not just one?   Going to a war zone totally sounds like my idea of a great time!!  Not to mention, see above question and answer.

"Wow, I wish my spouse/mother/father/grandparent would go away for a while!  I'd love the break."

If you have that much animosity for a 'Loved One', perhaps one needs to re-evaluate your priorities and where that person and you stand in your life.  If you would really wish this upon someone, think about that.  After all, most 'jokes' are based on truth.  Also, we typically are heartbroken with our spouses gone and the thought that someone would wish this on someone else is typically horrifying for us to hear.

"Why would he join like that and choose this over his Wife/Husband/Family?  That seems stupid."

Glad you think that serving our country is stupid.  Most men do it because they feel a keen sense of loyalty to our country and there are benefits that are great for families associated with it.  Additionally, these men who volunteer to sign up?  Are keeping YOUR husbands/wives/brothers/sister out of a Draft.  I've yet to meet one man/woman in the military who puts this before his duties as a father/mother/family member.  My husband doesn't put this before his family and I'd appreciate it if you didn't insinuate that.  This is a job, and as with most jobs, there are duties that need attending to.  It's called Sacrifice for a Greater Cause.

Or, a variation...

"How can he do that to your kids?"

How can he not?  He's fighting for the right for our country to remain free.  He's fighting for a free country  and our way of life for our kids, and your kids.  He's doing something about it, and we are so proud of him.

"Wow, this is your first year of marriage?  Don't you miss sex?"  Oh nooooo, of course not.  I don't miss sex, especially not with a man of uniform...  This usually results in a blank stare, because the answer is painfully obvious.  Of COURSE we miss sex.  Could the average marriage withstand 12-18 months of Sexual Deprivation?  I doubt it.  We miss everything that makes our soldier, our soldier.  The looks, soft touches, simple hugs as he goes by, kisses and... -everything-.  But we are ARMY WIVES and his sacrifice is also ours.

"You knew what you were getting into when you married him."  Or  "You knew he was going to be deployed at some point."

Here's the thing, folks, we didn't marry the military.  We married the man/woman who happens to serve in the military.  This does not mean an imposed pass to be 'okay' with the weight of a deployment, or any other time he spends away from his family, doing his civic duty.  What it meant when we knowingly entered in such a union, is that we were going to have to sacrifice with him, and give him our utmost support.

"It's going to be even harder when he comes home, because you'll be so used to the quiet and doing everything your way."

If I really wanted that, I would not have married someone, never mind a soldier.  We already know and are aware that things are going to change when he comes home, and yes, we are even aware that our soldier might have changed.  The reminder of possibly more tough times are not comforting.

So then, the question remains.  What is nice to say to an Army Wife/husband/mother/father/grandparent/son/daughter, etc?

"Thank him for his service."

How nice!  This brings smiles and a feeling of endearment.  And even nicer..

"Thank You for your sacrifice so he can serve."

Being a military spouse is a tough job.  We are often overlooked and under-appreciated in this whole process. On the rare occasion that someone thanks us for what we are doing... is priceless.

"I'll pray for his safe return."

Please do!  Again, this bring warm soft cuddly feelings, and prayers are always welcome and beneficial.

"Is there anything I can do?"

There is a caveat to this.  The thought is nice, but unless you plan on actually following through with your suggestion of 'anything', be it a warm meal one night, some items for your next care package, watching the kids for a couple hours so you can ground yourself... please don't offer if you don't plan on a follow through.  We don't need the disappointed of such situations during an already trying time.

"I'm here for you."

Be a friend.  A shoulder.  Someone to talk to.  Be yourself and supportive and you'll find that additional words/comments are not necessary.

Did I forget any?


  1. Thanks for the post - I think it helps a lot of people who don't understand what it is like to have a family member or a close friend serve. It could also help me in the future - one of my closest friends is in the Army Armor school right now. I have no biological brothers and he has no biological sisters, and with our close friendship, we fill that "hole" in our lives for each other. Whenever it is they deploy him, I could see myself in a slightly similar situation, though not making near the sacrifice that you are making in your life.

    Most of the questions are definitely offensive and would strike a nerve, though I could also see most of them, phrased slightly differently in most polite situations, being ones asked just out of pure ignorance. I think it's helpful for members of the military and Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine spouses to explain it as kindly as possible, as long as the question wasn't asked in a belligerent or flippant manner. While not all of the population has the tact to know what to say (I certainly don't a lot of the time), we definitely appreciate the guidance and information of our friends who are going through this to help us better understand in the future, so that we can be more accommodating and less ignorant in these matters.

    Thanks, Claire! :)

  2. Great Post!! Absolutely loved it!

  3. Hannah, good luck!!! I also have an 'adoptive' brother. We were both in a place in our lives where we didn't have much family and our relationship was so platonic, every time someone asked if we were a 'thing' we said, "God no, s/he is like my sister/brother!" So one day we just decided we should continue with that theme and refer to each other as such. Family is not always blood! :)

  4. Excellent post, well written and articulate not to mention I found myself laughing and agreeing with your witty comments. Thank you for posting this. I have been asked "Why do you let him do this" I'm just blown away by this one. I would never stop him from doing what he loves and despite what you may think he truly loves his job. The same way he would not even think about directing me in what I should be doing with my career~!
    Selfless service, it's something we do even as their family. Everyday.
    Thanks again for the post.

  5. Thanks, armywife. Even today, I got comments directed at telling me why they don't support the war, therefore him being deployed for their freedom, was moot.

    I'm glad you liked it. You gotta laugh about some things, it's the best medicine there is!!