November 09, 2006

FUTURE IN FLUX

I wanted to wait and write this post when we know for sure what’s going on. But as the weeks rolled by, I realized that this is the Army, and we’re never going to know for sure what’s going on. So I will tell you what I know today, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Last spring I wrote a proud post about my husband answering the call for active duty Civil Affairs. We had begun to plan our life around this decision, because we considered it a done deal: they were desperate for people, my husband’s language proficiency score was forty points higher than they were looking for, and he had recommendations and award citations all stating that, yes, he does in fact walk on water and should be considered for the job. That made the two-line form-letter rejection email he got in May a crushing blow.

We had just been back in the US for a couple of days, and my husband was completely depressed. He tried to find out why he had been rejected, but just ended up with more form letters. And he didn’t want me to post anything about it because he was embarrassed. I was just angry. I couldn’t understand why the Army would make such a stupid decision: they had someone who was begging to learn Arabic and deploy as much as they needed, and they turned their back on him. We figured the only thing that made sense was that Finance wouldn’t release him from their grasp, which just made me madder. Which is more important, winning this war or running a cash cage? Neither of us could understand. He started talking about getting out of the Army, which naturally threw me into a panic. Our homecoming from Germany was not what we expected.

Fast forward to September, when my husband’s branch manager came to speak to the captains course. She explained that the Finance branch is dwindling fast, and since they’re overflowing with extra captains, maybe some of them might consider the new and exciting field of…Civil Affairs. My husband was stunned and outraged. When he finally sat down with his branch manager, he explained that he had already tried to leave for Civil Affairs. And she explained that Finance had blocked him; his packet never even made it onto a Civil Affair’s desk. Information that would’ve been nice to know in May, before he tore himself into knots thinking that maybe he could’ve used one more recommendation letter! So he asked if he could have another shot at Civil Affairs. As of yesterday, this looks promising. We’re still trying to figure out the exact schedule, but it looks like it might finally happen.

But in the meantime…

Since there are far more Finance captains than jobs, everyone in his course is getting farmed out to random taskings. He and another soldier were assigned jobs at the same post, but my husband got a Finance job and this other guy was assigned to a unit that’s deploying to Iraq in December.

My husband came home and asked me if he could trade assignments with the guy.

Every time I think I couldn't be prouder of my husband, he does something to amaze me. This other soldier just returned from a deployment, and my husband doesn't think it's fair that this guy should do another so soon when my husband hasn't been since OIF II. But there's more to his decision than just equality of downrangedness: my husband thinks that the War on Terror is important, and he has an emotional investment in the future of Iraq.

Our old neighbor in Germany was all set to get out of the Army when he got stop-lossed and deployed. He could’ve been quite bitter about it, but instead he sent out an email that really grabbed me by the heart. In it he said, “In Texas, people thank you for serving in the Armed Forces all of the time. I know they do not mean thanks ‘for living in Germany, drinking beer, and eating bratwurst.’ When it is all said and done I will be able to look them straight in the eye and know I have done my part.”

My husband also doesn’t think that people are thanking him for cashing social security checks for German widows so they can hide the income from their government, which was what he spent a lot of time doing in Germany. He wants his service to mean more than that. He wants to do anything he can to help our country win this war. He gets personal satisfaction and meaning from doing a job that matters in the world, and right now he thinks he could matter more on a deployment.

So he asked my permission. And I granted it.

Most people I’ve told this story to think we’re certifiably insane. But the truth is, everyone reading this knows how we feel about this War on Terror. And if we feel that way, we can’t let some other family fight it for us. Morally, I can’t support the war but hope someone else’s husband will go fight it. And I think we need the best and brightest soldiers out there doing the job if we’re going to win…and you all know I think my soldier is the absolute best and brightest!

So my husband traded assignments with this guy, in exchange for a case of Budweiser Select. I told him I’m contacting Anheuser-Busch, because they should know that a man agreed to spend a year in Iraq for a case of their beer.

And then he got an email yesterday saying that he’s going to Afghanistan, not Iraq.

At this point, I’m throwing my hands in the air and giving up. He may or may not switch from Finance to Civil Affairs. He may or may not go to either Iraq or Afghanistan at the end of this year or beginning of next year. He got another email saying he could start Civil Affairs training in May, which is smackdab in the middle of when he’s supposed to be in Iraq. Or Afghanistan.

We’re going house-hunting this weekend. Hopefully we’ll find something and move me into it before my husband goes wherever he’s going to do whatever it is he’s doing. I’m getting the hang of this Army thing and just taking it as it comes.

More when we know it, faithful readers.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:04 AM | Comments (18) | Add Comment
Post contains 1083 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Good luck, thanks for sharing and people like you & your husband are simply amazing.

Posted by: tim at November 09, 2006 03:24 AM (nno0f)

2 Sarah, you and your husband may or may not realize how amazing you are to those of us here who appreciate the life you live, the sacrifice you make on behalf of our country, for our families and our future. I don't have words to say how I feel about this post other than, having read your blog now for two years or so, I knew when you wrote 'he asked if he could trade' that you would say yes. And it doesn't surprise me at all that he would ask, or that you would say yes. Because the two of you are what make America the greatest country on Earth. You believe in something greater than yourselves. You serve people through your hard work and sacrifice. And although I may never meet you in person or cross your paths, I can honestly say that I am humbled by the life you live and proud to say you're Americans. Bless you both. Wherever you may or may not be going. I'm glad you're here at least.

Posted by: Kathleen A at November 09, 2006 09:09 AM (7qm8p)

3 It's a wacky life sometimes, but thank God we have men like your husband willing to live it, and thank God we have spouses like you to support him. Both of you make me very proud.

Posted by: Andi at November 09, 2006 11:55 AM (EWp6N)

4 Never a dull moment, eh? Both of you are outstanding. I'm not the least bit surprised you would both be first in line to do this. I hope Anheuser-Bush pays attention... although lately their commercials have been all about the Rap and Hip-Hop crap. Sometimes it's better just to go with the flow... but it can be so frustrating waiting for the flow to get going!

Posted by: Teresa at November 09, 2006 01:28 PM (o4pJS)

5 Aaahhhh, the life of a soldier's wife. This sounds all too familiar. My husband would go back in a minute if he had the chance. And I would support it. Every time he gets frustrated in his current job (which is almost daily...lol) he tells me he wants to just tell his branch manager to send him back to the line where he belongs, which would almost certainly mean another trip back to the sandbox in the not-to-distant future. Best wishes to your husband, whatever comes of all this uncertainty, and God Speed.

Posted by: Robin at November 09, 2006 04:53 PM (6G8cC)

6 You're right! The best and the brightest need to be there so they can ALL do the job right. As for knowing the future.....eh! Part of what makes military life so fun and exciting is never knowing what tomorrow brings. You never know what paperwork is lurking around the corner for you. What matters is what you make of it!

Posted by: Vonn at November 09, 2006 04:59 PM (/VoEr)

7 Wow, I don't know what to say, but you both make me so proud to be American.

Posted by: annika at November 09, 2006 05:10 PM (qQD4Q)

8 You both are absolutely, positively, stark raving mad!! You're nuts!! You both have done your duty, yet you offer more. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of this too-old-to-reenlist-ex-sailor's heart. Where do people--no, heroes--like you two come from? You make us all proud. Gratefully, Jim

Posted by: Jim Shawley at November 09, 2006 06:51 PM (Hq+AC)

9 Sarah, I enjoy your blog so much. Thank you and your husband for all you are doing for us and our country. May God bless you both wherever you go and whatever you do. I wish you all the best.

Posted by: Pat at November 09, 2006 07:20 PM (Slm2V)

10 Hey there. I actually came to promote a USO show for the troops on RightLinx blog, but your post on hubby and your ordeals has left me emotionally drained. So sure, join our USO show on Friday night, but I would love a note from you to see what more exactly we can do to support our trooops and their families. You guys rock. Hope you like dancing! RightLinx USO Show

Posted by: McCain at November 09, 2006 11:40 PM (ZN5DE)

11 Thank you.

Posted by: Eric at November 10, 2006 03:47 AM (uAK0V)

12 Again, I'm at a loss for what to say. You already know it takes an incredible ammount of courage to let go and give permission for another tour overseas. (We've had this same conversation many times at our house. Usually ends up in me crying my eyes out and say NO!) I'm more than proud to call you my friends. I'm even more than pround that our Army is filled with soldiers like Russ who will go and fight the fight until it's done. Thank you both for what you do every day.

Posted by: Angie at November 10, 2006 05:54 AM (ec43W)

13 Speechless. Thank you both for your service to our country.

Posted by: MaryIndiana at November 10, 2006 10:55 AM (mso6W)

14 Hey, whatever happened to Pericles? That guy was my hero.

Posted by: Will at November 10, 2006 01:29 PM (QRBGL)

15 God Bless you both.

Posted by: Don at November 10, 2006 03:08 PM (6VFW4)

16 Thanks- to both of you for your service. We are a better nation because of people like you. My family are in debt to you guys! God Speed and God Bless, Jim

Posted by: Jim at November 10, 2006 04:14 PM (IHxDy)

17 Sarah - thank you and your husband. You're just amazing...

Posted by: Agnieszka O. at November 11, 2006 02:27 PM (QalgR)

18 Thank you for being who you are, for having such and honorable man for a husband and for making me so proud to be an American! God bless you and your family! (Came here via Mary*Ann and "Blog of War")

Posted by: Anna at November 11, 2006 04:45 PM (F1Y34)

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