Posted by: 103rdtransferwife | May 4, 2010

If this is a family… it’s dysfunctional.

390 days until my family is reunited.

Family is something very important, actually sacred to me. A family is a group of people bound together by love. Families come in all different sizes, configurations, and colors. Some families are happy, some families are not. Family is more than friendship, it is a deep unending bond. Families don’t have to be legally bound, nor do they have to share DNA to be a family. Love, that is what defines a family. Families don’t have to have two parents, or two opposite gendered parents to be a family. In the imortal words of Mrs. Doubtfire a family is :

There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. Some children live with their uncle or aunt.Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents.Some live in separate homes and neighborhoods in different areas of the country. They may not see each other for days, weeks, months or even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear, those are the ties that bind.
And you’ll have a family in your heart for ever. All my love to you, poppet. You’re going to be all right.

Your co-workers and your employers are not family. I don’t care how long you work with them.

Now, as I start, let me give you some background on me. I did child welfare for nearly 5 years. I saw some of the very worst that humanity has to offer during my time there. It consisted of long hours, stressful demands, and horribly emotional conditions. There were times I literally felt like I was in hell, having been handed another case of severe child sexual abuse or another domestic violence case. You bond quickly with your co-workers in that situation, you have to in order to survive. As they are also going through the experience, they truly understand what you are going through. Because of confidentiality, they are the only ones you can talk about what you are experiencing. The bonds you form with them are deep and lasting. I still, 4 years later, count some child welfare co-workers as some of my dearest friends.

But they are not my family. My boss certainly wasn’t family, and I had a supervisor I adored, but I also had one I can’t stand. I write this to explain that I do understand the bonds that people form by going through a shared trial. I understand how deep and lasting they are. But they are not my family. I went home every night to my family.

At the farewell ceremony, the unit was referred to as a family. I still strongly dislike this appropriation of something founded on love and using it to define an employer/employee relationship, especially one that has the UCMJ as backing to define and enforce the relationship.

As it is, so far I don’t see signs this unit is acting like a family. My husband has been thrown into a job he has no training for, no frame of reference for, no experience doing. He’s getting on the job training. No one is actually teaching him how to do his job or use the computer programs, but just expecting him to somehow immediately pick up on an incredibly complex and demanding job. Also, if the work schedule that my husband expects in Iraq is true, this unit will send home a burned out, used up, mentally stressed, person home to his real family. Yes, “real families” work their family members to exhaustion. It sounds like absolute hell, constant work, no rest, no breaks, no anything. “Real families” don’t mentor a new member. TPTB must believe in osmosis, as that’s how they are expecting him to learn this job. The base they are going to has an excellent USO, I doubt my husband will get to use it. To be fair, it seems my husband’s direct supervisor is trying to help him, but he has his own duties as well.

That doesn’t sound like any family I want to be a part of. If this unit wants to be a “family” they need to start acting like it. The way my husband is being treated is really rotten.

I see this unit as taking my husband away from his real family to do a very important job. It’s his real family he’s calling expressing his frustrations. It’s his real family that’s giving him support and love. It’s his real family that he will come home to. I just home the damage done by his military “family” is minor.

PS, I’m aware there is a war on. I understand the mission is challenging and that this is not Boy Scouts, this is the Army. It still doesn’t mean I have to like how my husband is being treated.

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