Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 11, 2010

For my readers from USAISC

352 days to wonder what on earth USAISC finds so interesting on my blog that they stay here for HOURS every day.

No, I never was naive enough to think that my blog would not be noticed. When I started this blog, CJ’s experience was part of my risk assessment for writing this.  This blog is being mirrored on the Des Moines Register site, where the PAO hosts her blog, pretty much so the 103 ESC would find out about my blog.  Just the same, I am amazed at how much time the USAISC folks spend here every day.  I hope I’m enlightening to your mission, and think it’s funny that I am now part of the chatter that they monitor, since they have nothing better to do.  Where is Osama Bin Laden again?  I hope someday my blog makes the Blogosphere and Social Media weekly report. That would be such a special gift from my Big Brother.

I am a private citizen.  I am not a member of the service. I have taken no oath of enlistment. I have no obligation to the United States Army.  As a private citizen, I am not required to obtain permission for writing a blog, nor am I required to notify the unit that I am blogging. I am not bound by any Army policy or regulation regarding blogging.  I am not subject to UCMJ.   It is my right as American citizen to publish my thoughts and feelings.  I consider writing this blog an employment situation.  However, since I am not getting paid, my writing of this blog also falls under volunteer activities. My husband has nothing to do with this blog.  He does not know the password.  He has no control over what I publish here. I do not clear my posts with him before I make them.  Any action taken against my husband due to this blog, of which he has no involvement other than as a reader, would appear to be in violation of the following Army policies.

AR 600-20

4–18. Employment and volunteer work of spouse
a. The Army affirms the rights of a spouse of a Soldier to pursue and hold a job, attend school, or perform volunteer services on or off a military installation. No DA official will, directly or indirectly, impede or otherwise interfere with these rights. Moreover, no DA official will use the preferences and requirements of the Army or any other DOD component to influence the employment, educational, or volunteer service decisions of a spouse. Neither will such
decision of a spouse, nor the marital status of the Soldier, affect, favorably or adversely, the performance evaluations, assignments, or promotion opportunities of the Soldier.

(1) In discharging their responsibilities, members of military promotion, continuation, and similar personnel selection
boards are prohibited from considering the marital status of a Soldier, or the employment, educational, or volunteer
service activities of a Soldier’s spouse. AR 135–155, AR 135–205, AR 140–158, and AR 600–8–29 provide specific
policies governing board conduct.
(2) Personnel decisions, including those related to the assignments of Soldiers, will not be affected favorably or
adversely, by the employment, educational, or volunteer services activities of a Soldier’s spouse, or solely by reason of
a Soldier’s marital status. AR 140–10, AR 614–30, AR 614–100, AR 614–200, and AR 690–700 provide specific
policies. Exceptions may be—
(a) Necessary to alleviate the personal hardship of a Soldier or spouse upon the request of the Soldier concerned,
such as when a family member requires specialized medical treatment or educational provisions or similar personal
preference accommodations.
(b) Needed to facilitate the assignment of dual-military couples to the same geographic area.
(c) Required by law, such as instances in which a prohibited conflict of interest may exist between the official duties
of a Soldier and the employment of the Soldier’s spouse. DOD 5500.7–R provides specific policies.
(d) Made by the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), with the concurrence of the General
Counsel, on a case-by-case basis, for reasons of national security, that marital status is an essential assignment
qualification for particular military billets or positions.
(3) Performance appraisals on Soldiers, including officer and enlisted evaluations reports, will not contain any information regarding the employment, educational, or volunteer service activities of the Soldier’s spouse, or reflect favorably or adversely on the member based solely on the Soldier’s marital status. AR 623–1, AR 623–105, and AR 623–205 provide specific policies.
b. Violations of this policy provide a basis for disciplinary action under the UCMJ in addition to appropriate
administrative sanctions.

AR 623-1

3–19. Comments about marital status and spouse
a. No evaluation comments, favorable or unfavorable, will be based solely on an NCO’s marital status. For example,
“MSG Doe and his wife make a fine team,” or “As a bachelor, SFC Doe can quickly react to his unit’s contingency
missions,” are not permitted.
b. Evaluation comments will not be made about the employment, educational, or volunteer activities of an NCO’s
spouse. For example, “Mr. Doe’s participation in post activities is limited by his civilian employment,” or “Mrs. Doe
has made a significant contribution to soldier morale by her caring sponsorship of the hospital volunteer staff,” are not
c. There are limited circumstances, involving actual and demonstrable effect on the rated NCO’s performance or
conduct, when comments containing reference to a spouse may be made. These comments must be focused on the rated NCO’s actions, not those of the spouse. For example, “SSG Doe continued outstanding, selfless service, despite her husband’s severe illness,” or “SGM Doe’s intemperate public confrontations with his wife were detrimental to his status as a noncommissioned officer,” are permitted.


3–29. Comments About Marital Status and Spouse
a. Any evaluation comments, favorable or unfavorable, shall not be based solely on an officer’s marital status. For example, “LTC Doe and his wife make a fine command team,” or “As a bachelor, MAJ Doe can quickly react to this unit’s contingency missions” are not permitted.

b. Evaluation comments shall not be made about the employment, educational, or volunteer activities of an officer’s spouse. For example, “Mr. Doe’s participation in post activities is limited by his civilian employment”, or “Mrs. Doe has made a significant contribution to soldier morale by her caring sponsorship of the hospital volunteer staff” are not permitted.

c. There are limited circumstances, involving actual and demonstrable effect on the rated officer’s performance or conduct when comments containing reference to a spouse may be made. These comments must be focused on the rated officer’s actions, not those of the spouse. For example, “CPT Doe continued outstanding, selfless  service, despite her husband’s severe illness”, or “COL Doe’s intemperate public confrontations with his wife were detrimental to his status as an officer” are permitted.

I also feel the need to quote another piece of legislation.

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If any action is taken against my husband due to my activities here, that WOULD very much constitute government censorship of my speech.  It is becoming more an more common for people to consider blogs to be a form of the press.  I am also using this blog to petition my government for redress.

I take full ownership of my words.  I actually don’t like using a pen name, but am for the protection of my husband’s career, and for PERSEC reasons as well.   Any action taken against my husband due to my blog will responded to.  If you don’t like what I am saying, read my words, hear my concerns, and make changes accordingly.

I have published nothing in regards to the mission of the 103ed which cannot be found elsewhere on line. Examples are:

  1. The fact that the are going to be in Balad in July is easily found on an OFFICIAL ARMY WEBSITE. This page was posted on February 19, 2010 long before my husband knew he was going and months before this blog opened.  This same information has been reproduced on several other blogs and information web sites.
  2. power point detailing the mission
  3. Media coverage of number of troops being sent here here and here. These sites also detail where the 103rd is going, and when they are getting there.
  4. An official Army video with a shorter number of days to return than the one I’m using. (Again, my countdown comes from the orders read in public at the Hail and Farewell.) PS: Can we get the orders amended to match the number of days used in this video @2:18?

Trust me, if I with a very cursory Google search can find these, so can the bad guys.  If the military did not want it known where they are going, how many soldiers are going (something I have not addressed on this blog until this post) and when they were going to get there, it wouldn’t be on official Army web sites.

If the leadership of the 103rd  ESC cannot handle one wife telling her side of this deployment, than the 103d ESC is in serious trouble. Rather than go after me, perhaps you should go after soldiers posting movement details on their Facebook Status as your unit moved from the US to Kuwait.  Maybe the 103 ESC need a lesson on not to post on facebook “Hey we are heading to Iraq” when the time for movement arrives.  Rather than seeing me as hostile, see me as one person who will tell you openly when the Army is screwing up.  Also know that if I am raising concerns, other spouses are as well.  It is very rare that one person is the only one with the same problem.

So Hi to my Official Army Readers!  Thanks for coming.  Installing the hit tracker helped me figure out why I was getting hits but no comments.  I have no idea what you spend so much time here doing, but pull up a chair, have a cuppa, and make yourself at home.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 10, 2010

Digging in

353 days until we start to see how we’ve changed.

It’s another day here.  I made some big decisions yesterday.  After talking with my boss, I am giving up some of my caseload.  I have been working a full time caseload, and the strain of all the pressure and demands on me has been showing.  I’m sad to be giving up the cases, but having made a decision on this, I feel a great burden has been lifted.  I am also getting more help with administrative work.  Again, another burden lifted off of my shoulders.  My boss made a very good point while we were talking: A lot of families find that they can’t have both parents working full time, that one works full time and the other part. My husband is working more than full time.   Now that I no longer am shouldering the burden of being the bread winner, I have the freedom to let some of the work go.  I don’t have to work these cases because I need to so that we can meet our needs.  I am not quitting outright as I believe that would be a poor move for me emotionally, as well as could cause some financial problems when my husband comes home.  I believe that if I hadn’t let go of a few cases, I would be quitting in a month or so, because I am starting to sense that I am burning out.  So I am keeping the cases that are meaningful to me, and letting the less fulfilling ones go to someone else.

I will say, I’ve learned some things via the rumor mill and people’s facebook status messages about the length of the 103rd’s stay at the transitional base which has me livid.  I’ve learned they may be there much longer than I had guessed.  If the rumor mill is correct, THERE IS NO REASON THAT WE WERE NOT GIVEN A MAILING ADDRESS EXCEPT THE 103rd ESC’s LEADERSHIP DOES NOT WANT THE HASSLE OF DEALING WITH MAIL AND THEY DO NOT BELIEVE MAIL IS IMPORTANT TO MORALE AND THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS IMPORTANT TO THE FAMILIES.  My take: TOO DAMN BAD.  I know that some in leadership have a dim view of family members who like to send mail, may I politely suggest they stow their attitude, and I’ll promise to not judge their families for not sending mail if they stop judging me and other families who like to send mail for being that way.

Emotionally? I figured out the word for what I am feeling: abandoned.  That’s a hard word to use, but it is how I am feeling.  Remember emotions aren’t rational.  They don’t always make sense.  Mentally, I know my husband loves me, emotionally, I am bereft.  Today I’m feeling abandoned. He’s wanted to be deployed for a very long time.  My love wasn’t enough for him to want to stay. He is off on his longed for deployment, something he has wanted to do his entire life.  I am home, overwhelmed, doing something I have never wanted to do, which is living apart from him.  I know these emotions aren’t fair to him.  I know he’s doing everything he can to be in contact with us.  I know he loves us and that he misses us very much.  That’s just how I’m feeling today.

I’ve discussed my blog with a person who’s counsel I value greatly.  She expressed concern for my husband on reading it.  There is a simple reason that I need this out there, and I need him to know how this journey is going for me.  Before when he went to a 6 month school, I hid how hard that separation was for me.  The signs that I was an awful mess were everywhere, but I kept how badly I was functioning a secret.  When he came home, it was a real shock for him how bad things were because I had kept it a secret.

I can’t keep it a secret this time.  Right or wrong, I feel better getting my emotions out there.  Getting my journey out there helps me cope.  I can’t expect my husband to understand what happened at home if I don’t tell him.

I’m really struggling with him being overseas.  I think I google “time Kuwait” 10 times a day.  I have ordered a new dual timezone watch so I can stop that. Looking forward to it coming so I’ll know what time it is there, so I’ll have some idea if he’s awake or asleep.   I very much want to cling to him, but am doing my best to give him space.  I know he has other things to do than be on the phone or internet with me.  I feel like I get so little compared to what I was used to getting; it is a hard change.  Really hard.  I’m hoping once they get to Balad and get settled and on a schedule that I’ll be able to calm down because I’ll have a much better idea when I’ll be able to expect a phone call. I’m REALLY having a problem with how very far away he is.  I just really want him back home where things are safe.  Back home where I can take care of him and he can take care of me.  Back home where he remembers we had a milk delivery and brings it in, while I totally forgot about it, and basically threw it all out.  That was a waste of money.

I went shopping for his first care package once he gets to Balad.  Yeah, I’m excited to be able to send him mail again, and that just can’t come soon enough.  I have so many plans, and I just want to get them mailed to him, now.  Hopefully what I send him makes his life more comfortable, less harsh.

So that’s me today. I’m feeling calmer.  I still don’t know how I’m actually going to do this.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 7, 2010

We no longer sleep under the same sky

356 days until we are back in the same time zone for good.

He has now moved over seas.  I’m taking it pretty hard. We no longer sleep at about the same time.  We no longer are on the same continent. It’ s not even the same day half of the time.  His morning is my last night.

Do you all have any idea how much I want him to get on a plane, say screw this and just come home?  He is now in a country with a warning on the State Department’s watch list.  He’s one step closer to the war zone.  He’s a whole lot further from me, and I won’t see him for months.  This is a whole new level of worry and longing. He and I have never been this far apart.  Every time before when he’s been gone, I’ve always known that if something were to happen to either of us, we were a short plane flight apart.  Not so any more.  If something happens to him, I have to hope the Army lets me go to him.  If something happens here, unless someone’s dead or dying, he doesn’t come home.  The last two months have dragged, I can’t imagine that the nearly 12 remaining months of this deployment will be any better.   I won’t see him for months.  Will I remember how he smells?  Will  he remember how to kiss me? I can’t help but wonder if a week ago today was the last time we will make love.

I came across this quote today “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it sure makes the rest of you lonely.” Charlie Brown.  Wise words from the boy who could never kick the football.

I hate how the time difference now makes us talking harder.  It’s no longer at the beginning or end of our day, It’s at the beginning or end of his, and these no longer match what so ever.  It’s just one thing more that my soul is raging against.

I am trying very hard to figure out why this has been put into our lives.  I believe that the Lord has a path for all of us, I’m just trying to figure out what the purpose of this path is for us.  What do we need to learn from being on opposite sides of the planet that we couldn’t learn together?  Why do I have to learn that I can live without him?  That’s a really scary one for me.    Why can’t we go though a major trial together?  Why do we have to spend this next year apart? And after this is done, how do we put our family back together again?

Call me crazy, but I can’t wait until they are settled in Balad (Wait… before I get yelled at for OPSEC, the Army announced this back in February on their official web site.) He has been in a training/transitional state for 2 months now.  2 months without any privacy on his end.  He’s had to go outside to call me every time.  2 months where he’s bunking will all sorts of people, including people who are very inconsiderate of grave yard workers. I’m really hoping that once he’s settled into his shipping container, he get’s the internet set up in his room, and he’s got a semblance of privacy (no he doesn’t get his own plywood cell) that we can get into a rhythm, I can start knowing better what to expect, and we can start better scheduling when he calls. Yes, we are paying for the wi-fi.  In fact, he’s going to research the satellite options.  Oh, and before anyone starts saying how expensive it is, I’ll just pass on that for me personally with home internet (something I consider essential), the data package on my phone, and my wireless card for my laptop, my personal internet bill is over $100 a month.  I’d never live without the internet in my house, why on earth would I expect him to? To me, it’s like going having a washing and dryer in the house versus going to a laundromat… the convenience is very much worth a fair sum of money. Plus, I’d like to make it as easy as possible for him to call home. Also, as of late I’ve felt very useless and derelict in my care of him as I can’t send him anything until they are settled.  Mailing things to him is one way I cope, and I’ve not been able to do that now for 2 weeks, and I don’t know when I get to start again, but it won’t come soon enough.

I’ve had several bright spots this weekend.  My mom was in an At&T store getting a new phone and she learned about a brand new international texting package they have.  For $10 a month, he get’s 50 texts a month, and can receive unlimited as we have an unlimited texting package on the phones.  There are also discounts if he goes over his 50 (which I anticipate he will every month).  I can send him a picture for 30 cents.  He and I do a lot of quick messages over texting, and I don’t know if you have any idea how wonderful it is to me that I am able to text him to my heart’s content.  It is just such a comfort to me that I can send him a quick I love you, and he can get it whenever he turns his phone on.   He can text me too, and while we have to pay attention to how many, at 40 cents a text over 50, it still takes a LOT of texts to rack up a massive bill.  Plus, as I shut off his data plan because that just got REALLY expensive REALLY fast, our base bill doesn’t change at all.  I’m not expressing it well, but hearing this and getting things set up was just a wonderful relief for me.  Losing the ability to text him because of how easy and fast it is was really hard for me.  Truthfully, he and I have had some very meaningful conversations over texting.  (I’ll be honest, we pretend we are teenagers and have sexting as well, I was really going to miss that.)

Another bright spot was when knowing he was leaving, (again, a call from Bangor, Maine tells you he’s heading out) I honestly didn’t expect to hear from him for days.  Right when I was sitting on my mom’s porch crying, he called. A very tender mercy from the Lord.

Reading what I’ve read online about where he is, it sounds like a very retched place.  I feel very bad for him being there.  I wish he was home so I could take care of him and give him a softer life than the one he’s having.

All I want is him home.  I’ll be really honest, I’m starting to question why he wanted this.  A small,bitter,  angry part of me worries he wanted this to get away from me and Poppet, rather than going because he wants to serve.  It makes me worry because I cannot compete with the Army, because hey, I don’t have orders and UCMJ and centuries of history on my side.  I don’t have the pomp and circumstance the Army offers.  I don’t have any medals or promotions.  I’m just me. Immensely complicated, overweight, hurting me.   Then I ask him what he wants to do on R&R, and he says he just wants to be home, and I send another prayer to heaven thanking the Lord for him, praying that he comes home safe, whole, and the same, and praying that his deployment gets shortened.  Pretty much, that’s what I pray for on his side.  For me I pray for peace, strength to do this, the ability to not jump straight to anger, and the ability to do all I have to do.  For Poppet I pray she comes out of this year knowing her mommy and daddy love her, and I pray she doesn’t come out of this with any attachment issues, and I pray she’s young enough she won’t remember this year.

Did you know that dwell time is assigned to the unit, not the soldier?  So when he gets done with this trip, we don’t have any guaranteed dwell time, because he was transferred.  That just sucks something awful.  Had he been deployed with his home unit he’d basically be guaranteed 4 years at home.  Since he was transferred, no such guarantee.  I dread him coming home and turning around and going right back.  This policy really is wrong.

I mentioned to him that he only has to make that 30 hour or so trip 3 more times.  He groaned.  I then pointed out that 2 of those 3 remaining trips are to home.  I’ll be honest, I’m already dreading that one trip back, and I know it won’t happen for months.

Thanks for reading.  IT helps me to get my feelings out into words. Like I’ve mentioned before, I want to share what happens between the farewell ceremony (well covered by media) and the homecoming ceremony (also well covered by media).  In between those two well publicized events is a year of experiences, and these are mine.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 5, 2010

I don’t think I can do this.

358 days until my wounds from this deployment can start to scar.

(I’m going to warn you right now, this will be a fairly narcissistic post.)

I know I don’t want to do this.

I hate the Army right now.

Freedom isn’t free.  I am very aware that there are many who have paid a higher price for our cherished freedoms, but right now, I’m feeling that the price that my family and I are paying is pretty damn high.

I think after this deployment is over I’m done paying the price.  Someone else’s turn. We will have done our time.

After going through Poppet’s high risk pregnancy and extended NICU stay, I’ve just always felt that I had it in me to go through a complicated pregnancy and NICU experience one more time in my life. It is just something I know; I can’t really explain it.

I don’t see me having it in me to do another deployment.  The emotional cost on me has been very, very high.  I know that if something were to happen to my husband, there will be no forgiving of myself as I consented to this path.

I am aching.  My heart is breaking.  I am incomplete without my husband.  Part of me wonders if this is what Voldemort felt like after he split his soul to make the Horocrux, (except Lord Voldemort is a psychopath meaning he has absolutely no concern for anyone else, and I am not a psychopath) because I feel like I’m living a half life. I feel very empty, like I’m just going through the motions, pretending to be doing ok. Fake it till I make it has become something I say to myself very often.

So what am I going to do with myself?  The other day at my mom’s I picked up a copy of the first Harry Potter and started reading.  I love those books.  They are so much more of a complex story than they appear on the surface.  I read the Harry Potter series from start to finish when I was on bed rest (I mean when else can you just lay around and read the then 6 published books?) .  So I’ve decided I am going to read Harry Potter again.  I love reading books over and over.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I have read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books or the Anne of Green Gables series.  I might re-read those too. Re-reading a loved book is like being wrapped in a warm blanket.  Comforting, calming, warming.

I am reading a chapter of scripture a day.  I need that connection with the Lord.  I keep finding verses which I swear were put there right when I needed to read them.  It is a tender mercy of the Lord when that happens.  Sometimes it is just a list of who begat whom, but there is a peace in reading those as well.

I am going to take a stained glass class.  I took one before I was pregnant with Poppet, and had to stop because I was pregnant.  Working with lead isn’t such a great idea when you’re pregnant. I very much enjoyed making pieces, and hey, you get to break glass.  Stained glass work is something where I have to focus my mind only on the task at hand, and I find it to be a very enjoyable thing to do.

I am also going to go see Sir Paul McCartney.  I am over the moon for that.

As for the rest? I don’t have the answers right now.

I went to see a very worldly movie with a friend today. We saw Sex and the City.  Her husband is on an extended assignment with his union.  It’s not the same as a deployment as she doesn’t have to worry about him being at war, but it is still very hard on her.  In the movie, the characters have a butler.  The butler only gets to go home and see his wife in India every 3 months if he can afford the airfare.  Carrie asked him if it was hard being apart that much, and he said some very wise words.  “Time doesn’t matter.  When we are together, it is wonderful.”  I’ve searched all over the internet looking for the exact quote with no luck. Those words moved me greatly, and they have become something for  me to hope for. From the times we’ve been apart before, the second we are together again, nothing has changed.   I pray that remains the case.  I dread losing the close connection we have.  Note, I did NOT say the pain of the separation melts away, it most certainly does not. These separations and the pain scar your soul.  The wound heals, but the scar will always remain.

Yes, the joy when he comes home is among the highest of the highs.  When he leaves is the lowest of the lows. And the low stays until he is back.  You start to move toward a higher incline, but without him here, the new normal is no where near as wonderful as the normal when he is here.   That sounds rather bi-polar in the highs and lows.  I’m ready for even.

After this deployment, I am pretty sure that I am done letting Army related scars be cut into my soul.  I’ve walked down this path for many years, a path I’ve come to accept, but a path I very much do not like being on. This path has been very rocky and steep for me.  I’ve had to fight my natural instincts and desires to remain on this path every step of the way.  I want to stop fighting.  I’ve given greatly for his desire to serve, maybe it is his turn to give to my desire to not have to worry that the Army will rip him away at a moment’s notice.  We had 2 weeks notice of this deployment. One week of that time I was very ill.  We had no preparation time.  Wills were done hours before he boarded a plane. Emotional preparation was no where what it needed to be. It has been very hard, no impossible to recover from that.

I am very proud of my husband’s service, but I am ready to get off this military trail, and for us to begin to start looking at our lives being free of the Army. I hope this deployment fulfills his need to be deployed, and that he realizes that he has served with honor, he has not hidden from the challenge, and that it is ok to move on with our lives.  I hope whatever he is searching for from the Army he finds so that we can move forward, without him constantly looking back, unfulfilled.  This is one of my great concerns for this deployment.  His imagined deployment is VERY different from the one he is going on.  VERY.  I hope whatever he is looking for he finds.  I am very worried he will not find it.

I was not raised as a military child (I DESPISE the term brat).  Honestly, I don’t want Poppet raised as a military child any more than she already has been.   This is very much a “if you haven’t walked a mile in my kitten heels, don’t judge me” statement.  I am not cut out for this.  I HATE sending my husband away.  I want him home.  I don’t want him in the God forsaken desert. He’s missed so much of Poppet’s life.  She misses him so, and I’m already concerned this deployment will cause “daddy” issues, and I am concerned about what the effect another deployment would cause for our daughter.

So that’s me tonight.  I’ve eaten half a bratwurst and an ice cream sandwich today.  It was all I could manage.  I’ve lost 4 pant sizes since he left.  When I talk of the cost to me, it is physical as well as emotional.  It is 2 am, and I am no where near sleeping.  I haven’t slept more than 5 hours a night but usually I only sleep 4.  I’m typically a great one for sleeping in. Now I awake at 6:30 absolutely unable to sleep. SO very unlike me.  I’d kill for 8 hours of unmedicated, peaceful, sleep.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 3, 2010

Operation Joint Family Endeavor

360 days remain as our family conquers this current family endeavor.

Lately, I’ve noticed several postings on sites designed for support for military SO’s.  I’ve seen a lot of women (mostly) post about how their SO just re-enlisted, extended, volunteered for a deployment without consulting them.  Ummm…. WTF?  (insert your own F word).

While it is my husband who’s the soldier, this is a family operation.  I do  not believe I could remain married to someone who would make such life altering decisions without consulting me.  I believe that a soldier who does any of the above without gaining the approval or acceptance of their partner is selfish.  The military is a career with it’s own culture, rules, and challenges.  More so than any other career choice, the decisions of one have far reaching effects on the other members of the family.  When we were first dating, he re-enlisted really without consulting me.  We were fairly new dating, so I didn’t really think it was my place.  However when the time for re-enlistment occurred, we had been married for a couple of years, and  I put my foot down.  I had enough.

Then 9-11 happened.

Again, my husband approached me about re-joining.  While it was a very hard decision for me, I gave my consent to his re-enlistment once again. He seriously had a recruiter tell him that I didn’t need to be involved in this decision.  He requested a new recruiter, one I met with and liked very much.   I might not have put my name on that line, but I held his hand as he signed.  I know that had I said no, we would not be on this journey.  I’ve supported my husband through some very arduous training programs.  I spent most of my time on bedrest alone due to the requirements of the Army at that time.  He left 4 days after our premature baby came home from the hospital.  He was gone for 10 weeks.  Counting all the schools and trainings he has attended, by the end of this deployment he will have missed half of Poppet’s life.

These decisions on his military career  were jointly made.  I know that after his contract ends, I can tell him enough, and he will accept this, likely after much discussion and prayer.  We’ve already discussed that he will not be voluntarily extending. I had thought he was fairly close to his 20 years, and we would tough it out.  I’ve recently learned that he likely has more like 3 times longer than I had thought to retirement.  I don’t think I have that in me.  It will depend on a lot of things, but right now, that much longer of a military career is not in my plans.

I honestly cannot imagine how betrayed these women must feel who have their husbands signing them up for another trip, or extending a trip through hell with out even discussing the issue with their wives.  What gives these soldiers the right to make these massive, far reaching decisions with out even consulting their spouse? I would not want to be in that marriage.

I’m not in charge of his career. However, I very much believe that family decisions should be made by a joint decision, not just by the one who gets to go off on the adventure.  In a career as demanding, involved, and challenging as the military is, I feel it is the height of arrogance for one partner to completely ignore the other’s wishes.  One of the reasons I have consented to my husband’s service is because this is a righteous desire of his heart.  I feel a need to support that.  However, there can come a time when the needs of a family outweigh the desires of one to serve.  Don’t even get me started on dual military families who have children.

I also believe this goes both ways.  When it became clear that my much loved career in child welfare was affecting our family, I sought a job change to something much less emotionally demanding.  It was hard for me to do, but it was very much the correct decision for our family.

So if you read my blog and want to re-enlist, extend, etc call your SO and discuss this with them first.  She very well may agree with you. Heck, I’ve supporting his re-upping twice.  If she doesn’t agree perhaps you should listen to her.  I’ve supported my husband’s desires to serve much further than I ever thought I would.  Sometimes, to quote Spock, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” When approaching a decision such as this, I believe the family needs to come first.  Once that contract is signed, that no longer applies, and the needs of the Army take precedence.   But I do believe when making a career decision, the family as a whole needs to be considered, not just the desires of the soldier.

On a personal note, right before my husband came home on a pass, I received a package from him.  I saved it for a night when I would need it. Tonight is that night.  I have had an extremely stressful day at work, and ended up in customer service hell after work.  All in All, today has been an extremely stressful and draining day.  Inside the package was one of his shirts.  I think he must have doused it with his deodorant, but it smells heavenly.   I’ve put the shirt on my pillow, and as I type this, I can smell him, and things don’t seem so bad.

One thing I have discovered over this separation is how much I love him.  I have become in awe over how much he loves me.  I don’t feel worthy of his love.  It does however feel wonderful to know that he loves me.  I’ve become more aware at how much I love him.  A very primal part of me wishes I was pregnant.  I was on the pill when he was home, so I’m not.  Mentally, I know what a very bad time the beginning of a deployment is to get pregnant.  However… Depending on his R&R schedule, and what extension rumors and floating around at that time, we just might try for an R&R baby.  Pregnancy and I don’t go well together, so I know this wish is a bit nutty.

I’m unpacking our suitcase from the weekend.  Umm.. what am I supposed to do with all the implements from a romantic weekend?  Anyone want some battery operated candles?  I have no need for them for another 7 0r 8 months.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 2, 2010

In which I discuss some politics

361 days until I can argue politics with my husband in person, something we don’t waste our time talking about when he’s gone as our communication time is so limited.

Lt. Dan Choi well known for being a vocal thorn in the side of those who want to keep DADT has begun a hunger strike in protest of the compromise bill currently working it’s way through Congress.  Capt. Jim Piterangelo is also joining him in the Dignity Fast.

Their demands to end the fast are:

  • (1) End DADT firings.

  • (2) Enact non-discrimination.

  • (3) End the insulting, wasteful study.

My take, and I know I’ve never served there is no need to remind me that I don’t really count, is that making someone lie about who they love is wrong.  There is something very wrong with making someone lie about the most important person in their life.  There is something wrong with our country telling someone who is willing to do the job that they are not allowed because of who they love. When you read about what has happened to  people who’ve been fired solely for being gay, it is very hard to not be moved.  This story in particular moved me.  He’s home on R&R with his love, heading back to Baghdad, his unit knows he’s gay, and are making him finish the deployment before firing him.  He’s good enough to serve in war, but not in peace.  He has one year left before his time is up and he can leave honorably. That just sickens me.

I do not agree with everything Lt. Choi does. He has worn his uniform several times to political activities.  I have a real problem with that.  Don’t politicize the uniform. Both the men participating in this fast were recently arrested, in uniform, for chaining themselves to the White House fence.  Chain yourself to any fence you want, but don’t wear your uniform while you do it. I mean, even Sarah Palin’s son didn’t wear his uniform when she accepted the Vice Presidential nomination, and you KNOW there were neo cons just dying because they didn’t get a shot of him on stage in uniform.

I am worried for Lt Choi.  I see some of his demands as unobtainable.  A non-discrimination clause would mandate that the service let anyone in.  Forrest Gump was a nice movie, but I see a lot of possibility for exploitation in allowing people who don’t have a minimum IQ.  I’m all for religious freedoms, but I have a problem with the military bending the rules on religious expression to allow sikhs into the service, while a Muslim who wants to serve and wear a hijab can’t. Are we now going to have to have an ADA type rules in the military? I’m really sorry, I don’t want my husband serving with someone who can’t fulfill the essential mission of the job.  I’d like the guy to his right to be able to shoot, and the guy to his left to be able to stand for more than 20 minutes.  Will they have to remodel a submarine to accommodate a person in a wheel chair?  These scenarios all come to pass with a non-discrimination clause. I do not want to see him die because of this hunger strike, but I see it happening, because I don’t see all his demands as being able to be met.

I do however fully support lifting DADT.  It shouldn’t matter.  In a perfect world, the SO of a soldier who is homosexual would also be able to have his partner live on base, but I know that’s not going to happen.  I’d settle for someone being able to put his partner on DEERS so that if something happens to the soldier, his partner is notified. I’m talking about something very basic here.  I am the one who will get a knock on my door if, God forbid, something happens.  That same privilege  terror nightmare should be extended to a gay couple.  It would be very hard to hope that my love’s family, who I might be estranged from, would notify me. SGLI issues also come into play here.

Some of the concerns that people against ending DADT have raised are ridiculous. With the rules about uniform dress, there are not going to all the sudden be an Army of Corporal Klingers. No, the Army song won’t suddenly change to something sung by Liza Minelli.  However a soldier may feel more free to listen to her.

Just as when the service racially integrated, there will be problems.  Just as they still do in today’s military, racists caused problems.  They still do.  Yes, there are radical homophobes who will fight this, but hey… we have a LT Colonel refusing to deploy because he thinks President Obama isn’t really the president.  With planning, preparation, education, and time, I see that the integration of open homosexuals into the service being as much a non issue in 10 years as racial integration is today. Many counties already have an integrated military. It can very much be done.

My husband doesn’t agree with me on this.  I love him dearly, but he’s a bit homophobic.  My take, I’d rather have my husband serve with an active homosexual than with some woman of questionable morals looking to get some of his paycheck or “help” his morale.  I know my husband isn’t going to be tempted by a gay man in his barracks.

Sorry for all the Wikipedia links.  I was really lazy on my research when I wrote this.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | June 1, 2010

What a difference a day makes.

362 Days until the echo of my love is replaced with the real thing, my husband home for good.

Yesterday, he was here.

Now he is not.

My house feels so empty without him here. Having him home for 4 days was wonderful, but it brought back to the front of my mind all the things I am missing without him here. He is everywhere and nowhere. I miss him.

It’s very hard knowing I won’t see him for months, and that seeing him is based on the pleasure of the Army. And you all know how much I just love this unit.

Honestly, I cannot wait for this deployment to be over. It’s just starting, so that attitude is a problem. I hate that he is with a group of strangers. I hate that I don’t know them at all. I hate that. In his home unit, I know the soldiers. I know them because I’ve served them breakfast. I’ve seen them and their families at socials. I’ve seen them at parties and ceremonies. I have NO such frame of reference for this unit. The reception was overwhelming, overcrowded, and not set up to facilitate people meeting others. From what my husband is telling me, this unit is very much operating on an us versus them attitude: If you are a transfer, you don’t matter because you are not part of the in crowd. Yes, very mature attitude there. I thought this was the Army not high school. That attitude being displayed very much worries me as my husband heads into a combat zone. I don’t really trust that anyone will have his back. Other than his direct supervisors, I haven’t heard him say anything good about anyone else there.

As for me? Today I’m letting myself be down. I kept Poppet home from day care because she is being very clingy to me, and frankly, I wanted to be with her today. We both miss him very, very much. I’ve gotten a couple of work projects done today, but otherwise am just being lazy. I’m still in my jammies, but to be honest, as I work from home, I’ve begun to be a bit Hugh Hefner in that approach, meaning I might be very busy at 3pm, and have been working all day, but I’m still in my jammies.

Today is the only pity party day I’m letting myself have. Tomorrow I have a very busy day. Same with Thursday. So today I’ll mope around, tomorrow I’ll try to return to the living.

The echo of him is still ever present in our home. I didn’t feel that way before he came home. I hate that I won’t see him for an unknown amount of time, a very long amount of time. I hate that this deployment is over a year. The length is just so very long. I saw online that at a briefing, navy wives were complaining about the length of their deployments, which are usually 6 months. HELLO out there. Reality calling. The Army and the Marines are running over a year in length deployments. A couple of weeks ago, I saw an Air Force spouse complaining on the news about a 3 month deployment. SHUT UP. Yes, I know every deployment is hard, but when you get the shorter in length deployments, don’t complain about the length. Just don’t. Complain about how hard the separation is, but don’t complain about the length.

I’d also like to thank the Cooperation for Public Broadcast, Chuck E Cheese, and donations from viewers like you, Thank you. Poppet loves to watch the shows on PBS.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | May 31, 2010

He came and he went

363 days until I’ll feel whole again.

I just got to spend a wonderful weekend with my husband. Now that he’s gone again, I am missing him so much. It hurts worse this time. We never were really able to shake the dark cloud of him having to leave again so soon, with the knowledge that after he goes back, he’s shipping out.

I loved just being able to hold and love him. I let him do what he wanted. We touched constantly. It was an amazing weekend. I loved every second I got to spend with him. We wandered around a Wal-Mart and Costco aimlessly because every time he’s been shopping for the last month he’s been on someone else’s time. While we were in the hotel, I let him take as long a shower as he wanted (at home he was limited by our water heater). I wanted to just let him relax and not have to worry about anything. The time just flew by. The time was so precious; I feel like I blinked and I was back at the airport, only leaving him this time.

The remnants of him are again all over our home. His clothing is again in the laundry waiting for me to wash. His things are again out.

I’d give anything to have him home to stay. I’d also like to fast forward through the next year. I’d settle for having him come home early, but I know that’s not going to happen. So far the rumors I keep hearing point to extension. To keep my husband, they will have to involuntarily extend him, as he will not chose to extend. After 430 days of separation, our family will have done our duty, and it will be someone else’s turn. Selfish? I don’t care. We will have done our time apart.

I don’t know when I will get to see him again. That hurts. So far through the 2 months of this deployment so far, I’ve known when he was coming home again. My guess is that he’ll get R&R in about 7 or 8 months, meaning he’ll be home in January or February. My heart already aches over this. I don’t know how I will go that long without seeing my love.

So he’s the Army’s now. After talking with him this weekend, I am very worried for his emotional health. He STILL has not been actually trained in his job, a job he has NO experience or training in. That frustrates me to no end. He’s picked things up here and there, but does not know how to actually do his job, yet he is being expected to do his job well. REALLY??? One thing that really hurts is that he won’t get to come home to me to help soothe his pain and to help him focus. He is very worried about not knowing how to do his job, and he’s very frustrated over not being able to do it. When he learned he was not being sent to do a job he actually knows how to do, he was promised that he would be fully trained and brought up to speed. It hasn’t happened yet. He’ll be working 14 hour days, 7 days a week, in a very stressful job, a job he’s never been trained to do. I am worried about how I will put him back together again after this experience. He likely won’t have PTSD from it, but he will bear emotional scars. I see him coming home burnt out, having been chewed up and spit out by the Army. I’ve come to learn that once you get past your immediate supervisors, higher up’s don’t give a damn about the soldiers they over see. They just want the job done. I feel like my husband is being treated like a drone, forgetting he’s an actual person with needs. I haven’t forgotten for a second that he’s a person, not just a number.

Poppet loves her daddy so. She got very mad at my mom, because my mom said she was going to get to see her daddy, and Poppet thought my mom was lying, and basically was a holy terror until she got to see her dad. When she saw him, she ran right up to him and climbed into his lap and stayed there for about half an hour. It was wonderful to see them be able to interact together. I love watching them together, something I will desperately miss over the next year. I’m glad that Poppet is old enough that she will remember her daddy.

It was very hard for him to get on the plane. He waited until the very end to board, then stood at the end of the Jetway waving to me. Even after they shut the door, he waived at me through the window. When they made him get on the plane, he waived at me as he got on the plane. It was so very hard seeing him go. So very hard. I’ve clouded up my contact lenses again due to all the salt I’ve cried out today.

I’ve been blessed with a very supportive family, wonderful friends, a very supportive church congregation. I am very blessed in that regard because I will need their support through the next year. I am very blessed in that respect. I’ve been assigned a matron at church (an older wife to help support a younger one) and her husband was deployed several times for Vietnam and other conflicts. When she held me and told me she understood, I knew she did and I let the tears flow. My pastor told me that tears cleanse the soul, if that’s the case, my soul is pretty darn cleansed after today.

I’m trying to be positive, I really am. Part of me (a part I am really angry at) is glad he’s gone, because knowing I’d have to say good bye again was eating at me. Now that his pass is over, hopefully I can settle down into a routine, knowing that my routine won’t be disrupted, a wonderfully welcome disruption, for some time.

I’ve felt so empty today. I hope I calm down soon so I can eat something.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | May 30, 2010

Yes, those two days matter

364 days (or is it 366?) I don’t know. I’m staying with the original count down.

So between their first set of orders and their second set, the 103rd’s deployment has grown by 2 days. Yeah, they matter and I’m ticked. I hate this stupid unit that can’t manage to correctly execute 400-x=y. Not 400-x=y+2.

Yes, those two days matter. They are my days, those are my daughter’s days, and they are being stolen from us. So thanks, person who felt it would be better to round up, or who can’t use a calculator to correctly subtract. You suck.

And people tell me not to worry about an extension. HAH. It’s already started.

Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | May 27, 2010

Does the 103rd have an FRG?

367 days until I won’t care about the answer to that question, because my husband is NOT staying with this unit once this deployment is done.

Because I haven’t seen evidence of one, and I sure haven’t heard from one. I’m shocked that a unit with the soldiers deployed hasn’t had a FRG meeting. My husband completed the paperwork so they know my information and that I want to be involved, but I haven’t heard from them

Thankfully, my husband’s home unit is taking care of me. However they can’t get me the information I need. That’s ALL I need from this unit’s FRG, information.

Again, this shows how this unit does not care about the real families, and doesn’t care about the transfers one bit. I knew that when I left Des Moines that would be the last I’ve heard from them, and that has held true.

I don’t even know how to contact the rear detachment. The phone number I found on the internet just rings and rings, no answer and no voice mail.

On a much more positive note….

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