November 09, 2006
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 husbands 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 didnt want me to post anything about it because he was embarrassed. I was just angry. I couldnt 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 wouldnt 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 husbands branch manager came to speak to the captains course. She explained that the Finance branch is dwindling fast, and since theyre 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 Affairs desk. Information that wouldve been nice to know in May, before he tore himself into knots thinking that maybe he couldve used one more recommendation letter! So he asked if he could have another shot at Civil Affairs. As of yesterday, this looks promising. Were 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 thats 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 couldve 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 doesnt 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 Ive told this story to think were 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 cant let some other family fight it for us. Morally, I cant support the war but hope someone elses husband will go fight it. And I think we need the best and brightest soldiers out there doing the job if were 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 Im 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 hes going to Afghanistan, not Iraq.
At this point, Im 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 hes supposed to be in Iraq. Or Afghanistan.
Were going house-hunting this weekend. Hopefully well find something and move me into it before my husband goes wherever hes going to do whatever it is hes doing. Im getting the hang of this Army thing and just taking it as it comes.
More when we know it, faithful readers.
Posted by: tim at November 09, 2006 03:24 AM (nno0f)
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