July 25, 2007


You know, I talk a good talk about our family's role in the GWOT, but I know we haven't even begun to sacrifice. My husband's been gone once, over two years ago. I had no one to worry about but myself, and I lived on the most supportive post in the military. My husband is almost certainly guaranteed to get a piece of the action in his new unit, but for a long time now I really have been a chairborne war cheerleader.

I'm a few days late in noticing this news, but Butterfly Wife's husband has volunteered to stay for another rotation in Iraq. Without coming home in between. I don't even know how his sanity can handle that, but I guess his pseudonym isn't Jack Bauer for nothin'.

Many days I feel like the country has gone completely bonkers, but then I remember that there really are people of such high caliber around me. What can we even say to this butterfly family except thank you...and you rule.

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July 24, 2007


This from Jules Crittenden struck me:

I realized with all this examination of post-traumatic stress and how much of it there is, and whether its normal or not, I didnÂ’t describe what a mild, walking combat reaction case is like.

ItÂ’s like this. Being totally wired for months upon years. Like crank, so that you donÂ’t fall asleep as much as pass out and you donÂ’t wake up as much as become alert. Thinking about different aspects of combat the way some people think about sex, compulsively, repeatedly in the course of the day, while going about your business, holding down a job, acting relatively normal but still freaking people out when you talk about it. Small flashbacks-lite, triggered by various events. In my case, accelerating up the highway, like going on an armored assault, with all the emotions, thoughts and memories, on my way to the various places that took me. More adrenaline then, and other adrenaline bursts at odd times. Thinking about the dead, at least once a day, in a number of different ways, when alone. Seeing their faces, and studying a face to catch the moment when life exited it. Choking up or sometimes sobbing at both expected and unexpected times, and learning to control that. Wishing you were back there. Preferring the company of people who know what that is like. Recognizing in a glance or a word that you both know the same secret, without having to say much about it.

I never had nightmares like some friends did, and in fact have never once dreamt of it. It didnÂ’t haunt me, not even the dead, not even when I felt the need to ask some of them their forgiveness. I was fortunate that way, in part maybe because I wrote about it, had plenty of opportunities to talk about it, because that is part of what I do. Over the third and fourth year, most of it significantly subsided, though parts can and do periodically come up. I never felt traumatized as much as I felt I had a great deal to think about, not least the startling discovery that I had enjoyed myself, and also that I had been fundamentally rewired, and had somewhat different perspectives and focus in various matters. As one friend put it, there was life before, and life after. Not good or bad, just different.

And there you have it.

This sounds familiar to me. Especially the "thinking about combat" thing. Sometimes when my husband's quiet, I'll ask what he's thinking about. Usually it will be trivial, but on a couple of occasions he's launched into a thought about how if they'd only turned his tank right instead of going straight on that day back in April, he'd've been more useful to the battle. Three years after the event, he still replays it in his mind and thinks of ways he could've done more.

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July 13, 2007


The brother visit is going swimmingly. He just graduated college and is looking for a Big Boy Job, so he's content to sit around all day with me watching South Park and eating trail mix. Easy entertainment.

My husband was supposed to jump this morning, so the brother and I were going to head out to the St. Mere Eglise Drop Zone to watch. (Do they really not see how disturbing that name is? Talk about inauspicious. Husband and I were trying to come up with other examples: Omaha Beach Water Park, etc.) Anyway, I thought watching the jump would be the coolest thing you can do in this town, but naturally the Army didn't cooperate with my tourist plans. The husband got up at 3:30 for a 9:00 jump -- let's hear it for Hurry Up And Wait -- and then called shortly after 8:00 to say they'd run out of parachutes so he wasn't jumping today. So there goes my good idea.

Looks like more South Park for us.

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July 09, 2007


Last night's episode of Army Wives was much better, in my opinion. It really reminded me of military life and hit on several issues that Army families have to deal with, from the wife fixing a clog in the sink to the tug in a soldier's heart between his job and his family. I wrote about my experiences with a soldier's heart over at SpouseBUZZ.

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July 06, 2007


Last night I finished reading Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives. It was a fascinating book and a very compelling story. I now understand where a lot of the material for the TV show Army Wives is coming from, and I got a lot out of the book. But I can't help but feel that the title is a misnomer. Even the new title -- Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage -- doesn't quite fix the problem.

The book traces the lives of different Army couples from right before 9/11 to the start of OIF. It centers heavily on the five murders at Fort Bragg in the summer of 2002. In this sense, it's more like Fayetteville's In Cold Blood than just a book about Army wives. It's the story of gruesome murder, with information and insight on the military intertwined.

I came away from the book with the same feeling as when I read While They're At War. There may be some valuable insight into the military in the book, but the stories themselves are quite atypical. The average Army wife isn't an active anti-war protestor, nor does she get stabbed and burned alive by her husband. The average Army wife just takes care of her kids and her household while her husband is away. Most of what she overcomes is molehills, but it's a minefield of molehills spread out over years. But I guess that doesn't sell books. These fantastical stories are a vehicle to give people a peek at military life, but it seems a bit dangerous to me to name a book about murder, adultery, and horror as the "code of military marriage."

I liked the book, don't get me wrong. But just like Truman Capote's tome shouldn't be used as a guidebook to visiting Kansas, neither should this book be all you know about military life.

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