19 February 2009


We make them every day. Some are small. Some are huge. Some we will forget in minutes. Some we will think about years later. Some will alter the course our life. Some will change nothing.

But I ask you this: When you choose something, does it mean that you give up your right to complain? Does the choice you made trump any expression of your frustrations, worry or anguish? Does the act of choosing void any right to bemoan your situation?

Put it this way: If you choose to have children, do you forgo the privilege of complaining about your child not sleeping through the night? Do you not get to whine about spending all your time and money on your kid and not yourself? No aggravation over mounds of dirty diapers and spit-up caked clothes? Does that choice mean you don't get to gripe about all that parenthood entails?

I would guess that anyone reading this (especially anyone who is a parent) would shout a resounding "Hell no!" Am I right?

So I ask, then, why do members of our military (including their families) constantly get this sentiment thrown in their faces: "You chose this." (meaning joining the armed forces)? I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this, how many times I have seen it in comments left online, how many time my MilSpouse friends have been confronted with it.

When we complain about the ridiculous up-tempo deployment cycle we are in and the treatments of our troops, what do we hear? You chose this.

When there are complaints about what war does to a soldier and the woes of PTSD treatment, what do they say? You chose this.

When we are upset about missing holidays with our loved ones, being separated from your spouse for up to 15 months at a time, consoling children who miss their parent, taking care of everything at home alone, what is the response? You chose this.

Why is it different for us? What makes this any different than any of the litany of choices people make in life and then complain about... marriage, careers, family, finances? Why do John & Judy Average-American get to whine all they want about every choice they've made when we aren't allowed to complain about military health-care, ignoring PTSD, families on their 5th or 6th or even 7th deployment in as many years, inadequate body armor, death tolls, the cost of staying connected during deployments?

Instead of sympathy or curiosity or understanding, we get "You chose this." What is it, exactly, that we did to unknowingly relinquish our right to complain, admonish, disapprove, question and just plain whine?

We chose to serve our country.

PS: I'd like to thank my MilSpouse friends for your take and wisdom on this subject... I might have borrowed some of your arguments, but it was because you said it better than I ever could. You all are amazing!


liberal army wife said...

WE didn't do anything. THEY chose to be ignorant. When they say we should expect these things because we chose this life - I tell them I also expect to get the flu, but I don't have to like it! and this, THIS attitude, is why there is such a disconnect - such a feeling of us vs. them. And why I choose to be around us, not them.


Tucker said...

Well said.

I am with you LAW, I choose us.

kimba said...

Hell. Yes.

Let's add to the list of things that these people chose that they have, by their own guidelines, given up their right to complain about, shall we?

- jobs
- friends
- houses
- spouses
- pets
- neighbors
- political representatives

Funny, though, people complain about crap like this all the time!! *scratches head*

This is fun!

Tucker said...

I know! This list could get real long, real fast!

LopsidedMom said...

And I think it gets even more complex for milspouses because technically we didn't even make the choice to serve...we made the choice to love.

Tucker said...

You are right Lopsided Mom, we chose to love someone who chose to serve... but I also think that what we do is serving too in an odd way. Of course not like our husbands do, but we serve in our own way.

liberal army wife said...

damn straight, Tucker! when asked how long he's been in, Chief will say - WE - pointing at me- have been in for ---- years. He figures that while he's in uniform, I'm a part of this team that's in the service.


Anchored Away said...

Hear, hear!

You know what's pathetic, though, is how many times I've heard this sentiment repeated from one milspouse to another.

Well, we did choose this life, so we just have to suck it up and remember how much we usually luuuurve it.

What. Ever.

Kiki said...

I love this! I have thought about this many times, and actually refrain from even writing about certain gripes just to avoid criticism from those crazies.

Feminist Military Spouse said...

Good Points. Unfortunately, I think people do this as a means of distancing themselves from our collective choices to put real people in harm's way.