Sunday, May 29, 2011
Army Wife, Army Life
When I met my Husband, he had 8 years in the National Guard already. Shortly after we met, he joined the Army Reserves. 458th En Bn out of Brookville, Pa. We got married and had a child and shortly after that the unit needed a VP for the Family Readiness Group which helps family members of soldiers who are deployed or in a crisis. I agreed although I had no idea what I was doing. I slowly learned the ropes and what the Army was all about. I went on weekend tutorials on how to prepare soldiers and families for deployment, counselling, consoling.. Then deployment came. I handled it with grace, strength, and pride. He moved to Wisconsin a week after we purchased a new home. He did 6 months there preparing to go. He left on our anniversary. February 20th. Shortly after that, the mother of his other child filed for custody. He had 50/50, week on, week off custody. She tried to take her for good. I knew if she did, he would never get her back. So I filed for custody of a child that wasn't mine. I filed for custody and contempt of court for not following the current court order. I showed up at court to fight with my lawyer. The child wasn't even allowed to speak to me. I showed up alone. She showed up with about 14 members of her family. The judge made the lawyers work out a compromise. She wanted nothing to do with it. We went back to court. Same thing. We went back a third time. The judge said if we came back again, one of us would be very unhappy. He wouldn't even hint as to which one of us it would be. That night she called me. She said I could have the child every other Thursday for a 4 day weekend. I took it. From that point on, I worked as hard as I could keeping those kids happy. I did whatever it took to keep them from missing their father. We went on trips, we went shopping, we did anything they wanted. I also worked as hard as I could keeping our soldiers happy. One day, my husband sent me an email with a list of names. He said that he had more than enough packages and the list was a list of names of the guys who got little to nothing from anyone. The name at the top of the list was a kid named Rich. Rich was 19 years old and from Erie, Pa. He had received nothing at all from home. No letters. No packages. No email. Nothing. This tore me up inside. They had already been in Iraq for 3 months. 3 months is a fucking lifetime in that place when you have no one thinking of you or writing to you. I started writing letters and sending packages. I sent that kid everything and anything I could get in a box. I had no idea what to say in the letters, but I wrote until my hand cramped. I wrote pages and pages. He wrote back and told me his parents disagreed with his decision to join the Army and refused to even admit where he was. They just refused to talk about it at all. I happily took care of that kid for the rest of the deployment. When the year was up, they flew home on the same day. February 20th. They flew back to Wisconsin and had to stay there for 2 weeks before coming back to Brookville. The day finally came. People lined the streets waiting for the buses to come through town. I was waiting to see my husband. I was waiting to meet my new friend who had become so important to me through the year. My husband was the first off the bus. I hugged him and welcomed him home. Then I waited. I stood there beside that bus and watched every face that came off. I waited and waited. The final soldier stepped off of that bus. It wasn't him. My eyes scanned the sea of faces around me. I started asking the soldiers where he was. No one would answer me. Finally someone sat me down and told me that he wasn't coming home. No one knew how to tell me because they were all aware of the very special bond we had. He stayed for another year with a different unit. He said for them to tell me there was nothing for him to come home to. So he wasn't. I was crushed. I bawled and bawled. It was such a sick feeling to me that this now 20 year old kid had nothing except the Army. Nothing! I had no way to contact him at that point. His location changed. He was unreachable. He did finally come home another year later. We met up after that at an Army function where he brought a lovely young woman with him. He met her shortly after returning and married her. Love at first sight. They had a child immediately after. He joined the Army full time and is now stationed in Afghanistan. His wife and child live in Germany where they wait for him to return very soon. I tell this story to remind everyone who reads it that there are so many of our soldiers out there fighting for us and losing their lives for us. Please remember them. Those soldiers also have families who need help and support as well. A soldier can't do his job to the best of his ability if he is worried about the state of his family. Take the time to ask them if they need anything. There are other young men out there just like Rich who have nothing and no one to talk to them and tell them how important they are. Find them. Do your part. You'll make a friend for life who will never forget what you've done for them and the feeling is beyond any other in this world.