11 February 2009

Civilian life.

So, I have been back to work for 2 days now. Officially back to civilian life and "normal". I was only gone two months, but the damage has been done and what was "normal" is now some odd, not-quite-right version. And of course I am now acutely aware of how ignorant and uninformed we all are/were (that was me just 2 years ago, guilty as charged) in the civilian world.

(Necessary back story: Swiss and I have a house in the Upper Midwest, a town of about 100,000 with only two big employers... a hospital and a computer manufacturer. The only military presence is the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in the strip mall down the road from our house. It is a pretty conservative town, but also pretty isolated from the usual trappings of 'city' life. Swiss's unit is based down South, so for the meantime while he is deployed we are keeping our home here and that is where I am currently living.)

I have been asked how long the deployment is countless times. And every time I say a year, I get flabbergasted responses, as if this standard year deployment is something they'd never heard of. I don't mean to be snarky and I certainly can't and don't expect everyone to be all up on Army tours of duty, but hasn't anyone been watching the news? Reading the newspaper? Paying attention? FOR THE LAST 6 YEARS? SIX!!!

And then I got the "Well, now that Obama is in office maybe they will just bring him home?" bit today. I suppose that is just wishful thinking on their part, trying to be helpful, positive. But again, if folks were paying any attention to this war and the politics behind it, they would know better.

Am I being too harsh here? It just seems like no one here has any real understanding of what is going on, what it means to be at war, that we can't just up and leave because we got a new President, etc. And of course I recognize that I am particularly & acutely aware of all of this, because of Swiss's job, because he is deployed. I know that my grasp of what is going on isn't the same as your average citizen who has no stake in this war. But should that matter? Am I being overly sensitive to this? I mean, my husband and so many others are over there risking everything in the name of a country that has practically forgotten (or don't care to know in the first place) that they are even gone.

And what's worse is that when I talk about the military (which I think I should learn not to do), some have such a cavalier attitude about it. Like, what's the big deal? So what, deployments are what they do? To some extent they are right. Yes, deployments are part of the job. But I just doubt that any real thoughts have been put into what a deployment really means. No thought to the emotional issues, the family issues, the health issues, the fear, the worry, the separation from loved ones and friends. Not to mention the living conditions, not being able to see or be with your wife/husband, missing a year of your child's life, living first hand the horrors of combat, the anxiety and fear that you might not come home. It is the "That's what you signed up for" mentality. And I don't know how to react to that.

And of course not everyone is this way. Thankfully I have friends who ask when they don't know, ask because they care and want to know what is going on (presumably because now they know someone in the military, know someone dealing with a deployment, which is fair). But shouldn't everyone be this way? Shouldn't everyone care? Shouldn't everyone want to know?

I guess I just that that regardless of how one feels about the war, about the military even, I would hope that if your country and countrymen are risking life and limb and dying for our country (insert your appropriate political persuasion's comment here), you would at least care to pay attention. Then again, the media isn't helping this situation at all either. If you didn't know any better, an hour watching the news would likely leave you with no inkling that we have nearly 200,000 troops at war in two countries. And that is abominable in my book.

Anyway, that is my rant. I guess this is just a part of being the 1%.


liberal army wife said...

Well dear, you WOULD think that they would know better, because of the over 2500 members of the MN Guard that were deployed about 18 months ago and some of whom left AGAIN the other day! Did they miss the big send off? did KARE and CCO even cover it?

The last deployment of the Guard was 22 months - the longest of ANY unit in the US Military! they forgot that already? and why am I not surprised... Because I lived there. And it's not just the MidWest, I'm getting the same stupid questions here in DC, where there are uniforms everywhere and you would think that people would have read the paper, watched the news... Not that our news is any better.

How to react to the "that's what you signed up for"... I usually left the room, better than being arrested for assault. the ones that will irk you to death - the ones that armchair general, tell you everything that is wrong/right with the war/military etc., but have no one in the service. They are easier. I told them (and one guy I have to keep telling) that when he has skin in this fight, he gets to talk, otherwise he is to shut the F*&K up, before I rearrange his gonads. But, honestly, you will get this reaction from some of "us" too. I'm proof - that you'll hear, "my husband was happy to go"... During the extension angst, one twerpy twit told me her husband was glad to be staying in Iraq, because he wanted to catch Bin Laden because of 9/11.... the explanation that AlQuaeda hadn't been there before, that BinLaden was probably in Pakistan, elicited the following -"well, it's over there [waving vaguely] and he's dedicated to doing the mission"... At that point, I just laughed - and left.

Yes, it's part of being in the 1%. and when you are ready to strangle them, come back here and we'll be there to vent at.


alternativearmywife said...

oh man. I lived in NY for the deployment, and same deal - no military bases, so people are completely out of touch.

My favorite, standard response that I would say 1 in 5 people gave me was, "Oh. It's dangerous over there."


the saving grace is that every once in a while you meet somebody who says something so poignant and true that you just smile and thank them.

keep a little notebook of direct quotes people give you - stupid stuff, hilarious stuff, nice, touching stuff, whatever. I did, and it's so fun to look back at.

Tucker said...

Oh my lord. I love you two. I love that you understand!

And thanks for the great advice too, I will start taking notes AAW and I liked the bit about readjusting gonads LAW! I will have to keep that one in mind!

Thanks again ladies. You rock!

LopsidedMom said...

Weird, I thought I wrote you a comment yesterday...I wonder if I just forgot to hit enter!
Ack...anyway...you've just walked into what was one of the hardest parts for me last year...and I'm sorry because it does suck. Hugely sucks.
Find your friends, hold them close and let them in. Let the rest go. Eventually you'll come across someone who is going through something that you have no way of understanding...and then you can be a really good friend to that person.
Of course, none of my feel good pep talk works unless you have blog so you can come home and really say what you think about all the insensitive assholes... ;)

Infantry Dad said...

Hi Tucker,
I once blogged that having a loved one deployed is like having a loved one who has had a terrible accident with the prognosis that he/she should get better, but we won't know for a while. We live every day hoping for the best, and trying not to think about the worst.
I boil the equation of understanding down to three groups, those of us who know first hand, our friends, and those who have no idea.
I don't think anyone really has no care, they just don't know.
Some ask, and some don't know how to.
My best wishes and prayers go out to Swiss, and you, for his safe return home.

jlc said...

Can't give you enough PRAISES for this post!!!


just another one in the one percent club