March 12, 2008


ButterflyWife found a CNN article called Troops, families changed by 5 years of war. All of the stories are about changes for the worse: death, divorce, injury, depression. I thought I would like to add how my family's life has changed for the better.

I've been thinking about this ever since they were talking on the radio about how 9/11 changed people's lives. I blogged:

Today I started thinking that if 9/11 hadn't happened, my life would be quite different. My husband was slated to join the Army for four years of Finance. My guess is that he would've completed his commitment and taken his business mind elsewhere for more money. Certainly he wouldn't have stayed in and chosen to learn Farsi. We'd probably be somewhere in the Midwest, working and living like most of our peers.

I'm pretty sure my husband wouldn't be in the Army today if it weren't for Iraq. We also wouldn't be reading so many books on Iran and Arabs, there probably wouldn't be a SpouseBUZZ, and I never would've met any of my best friends.

Andi wrote a good post on the fifth anniversary of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. The story is a story of strength, of resolve, of commitment. That is what has changed in my life, for the better. Without Iraq, my husband's job would just be a job. Instead, it is more like a calling. In the CNN article, they talk about a chaplain:

When Etter himself returned on leave to Pennsylvania to officiate at the funeral of a close friend, he turned to his wife and said he wanted to go home.

"I said, `OK, get in the car. Let's go home,"' said Jodi Etter. "And you said, 'No, my home in Iraq. I just want to go home."'

When his tour was over, and he went with his wife to buy furniture for their new house in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he had to remind himself that it was important to her -- even if it seemed trivial to him after the war.

I think they mean for this story to be a bad thing, but I don't see it that way. Our troops are invested in Iraq. They live their lives for a serious purpose, so yes, furniture is going to seem trivial. That's called Perspective. And my husband says all the time that he wants to return to Iraq to see this thing through. As an Army wife, you make a choice: when your husband says he'd rather be in Iraq on Valentine's Day, you can either be selfish and resent him, or you can be proud that your husband has such convictions and deeply cares about both the future of the US and the future of Iraq. I'm impressed that my husband would rather be "stuck hear n Irak" than safe and snug at home, and I'm proud of him for putting his country ahead of his family.

That's how we've changed in the past five years. If you'd asked me as a teen what the height of romance is, never in a million years would I have come up with the answer "having your husband wish he were in Iraq every Valentine's Day." But it is. Iraq has matured us, as a couple and as individuals. We read more, we think more, and we love more.

The chaplain goes on to say:

Now executive director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans Affairs, Etter says a deployment is like a magnifying glass.

"Personalities that are strong become stronger," he says. "Personalities which are weaker are made to become weaker."

We are better for having been to war.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:25 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 621 words, total size 4 kb.

1 I think that is the one thing that truly sets the military apart from 'regular people': that they WANT to be over there. Most people wouldn't understand why they'd willingly go somewhere and put themselves in harm's way for people they don't know. What people don't understand is that they're going not to abandon the ones they love at home, but to ensure their--and everyone else in this country's--safety. And it wouldn't occur to them to look at it any other way.

Posted by: Ann M. at March 12, 2008 07:56 AM (HFUBt)

2 It's really not about where we are better or worse. (of course I happen to think worse.) What matters is that some little kid just got killed over there for nothing, just now, right as I'm typing. For nothing.

Posted by: Will at March 12, 2008 09:26 AM (/Wwv3)

3 I take that back. It's worse than nothing. It's for a few chicken hawk's ego, for bush to out-do his dad, for oil that we never got anyway, for lies and lies and lies, for distraction, for the ripping away of our privacy and freedoms by an over-ambitious executive branch, for lies, for hate, for racism, for killing... killing for the sake of killing, because that's what some people need... for hate and greed and stupidity and ignorance... for revenge, even if it's on the wrong people, and for those who need to torture others to feel okay about themselves... the war is for all of these things, and it's far worse than nothing.

Posted by: WIll at March 12, 2008 09:30 AM (/Wwv3)

4 I was going to respond to your post but then I read the above comments and now I cant remember what I was going to type. My train of thought is derailed. I agree with what ann was saying, most dont understand them. I cant speak for the military as a whole, nor would I dare to, but the Marine I know and married, believes in why we are there. He wants nothing more then to be back in country again. I'm sorry I really cant get my train of thought back. I dont mean to make this such a rambling comment! I just cant get past it.... its not the reason, its not why my babies go to bed at night with their father somewhere else, its sad that so many people dont understand what the military is really made up of.

Posted by: lea at March 12, 2008 04:50 PM (SyhWV)

5 Will is clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Good post Sarah.

Posted by: Badger 6 at March 14, 2008 06:58 PM (u1G+6)

6 I'm sorry. I'm not an idiot. I feel passionately. I feel too much sometimes. I'm sorry.

Posted by: Will at March 14, 2008 08:21 PM (0Yps+)

7 Sarah, Thanks for this post. I am a PA guard Wife, and I know Chaplain Etter. I agree with you, and the chaplain. Any Military family goes through reintegration, the Chaplains comments are just an illustration of the changes we make while we are apart. What is sad, is that some reported used those comments (or tried) to fit the story he/she wanted to write. My husband does not want to go back to Iraq. He does not want to leave his family, but he will be damned if his guys get to go without him. So invested in Iraq, or in his troops, it's still the investment that counts.

Posted by: medics_wife at March 17, 2008 06:22 AM (ZEIBc)

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