Infantry Wives: Of Iron, Jell-o and Call Downs

29 Oct

Jill Bozeman, 17 year veteran Army Spouse, and founder and national director of Operation Faithful Support, Inc.

As an Army wife of 17 years, I will be the first to admit that Infantry wives put me to shame.  They are powerfully independent, extremely cohesive, gut-wrenchingly experienced, and tough to the core.   And I’m pretty sure their core is made of cast iron.  Even the frailest of frame seem to be able to do the physical work of six corn-fed men, twice their size.   I’m pretty sure she could also lift a car above her head and spin it just for fun.

But there is a part of her that is split into pieces multiple times during a deployment and she is brought to her knees in weakness.  It’s the call from command, announcing an emergency meeting.  This is what immediately precedes a casualty notification.  That means there’s been a member of the team seriously injured, or KIA (killed in action).

Conflicting emotions are like a tsunami.  On one hand, she is relieved that there wasn’t a knock at the door.  It was not her Soldier; the father of her children.  But…it was, potentially, the husband of a dear friend, the father of her children’s playmates, or a single Soldier who’d become a member of the family.  She will have to get the kids around, and down to the battalion classroom to find out the identity of the brother whose life was tragically cut short.  And their Soldier’s are on “black out”, which means they will have no communication from him during this time.

If she is a volunteer “key caller” for the company FRG (Family Readiness Group) then  she will return from the somber meeting with her children, send them to play, and do a “call down”.  This means she will call every family member on her list (mothers, fathers, siblings, and out of state spouses of the Soldiers in the unit affected) to inform them of the KIA, or serious incident.   And it just so happens that this spouses own husband may have narrowly survived the same tragedy.

“Tough as nails”, is immediately reduced to jell-o. 

These spouses have babies on their own, parent the children of their unit-sisters; handle the entirety of their family’s issues, all the while watching out the window for the government vehicle to pull in the drive.  And some of them do hear that knock.  Some of them do.

These women above all, need support.  Many times their Soldiers come home having lost multiple brothers, before their very eyes, with a replay button that is in HD.  He’s sensitive to sound, movement, and has a heightened sense of aggression due to his lengthy combat deployment.

Now, we have twelve months to recover, so we can do it all over again.

This is why OFS works hard to strengthen the marriages of these amazing families.  No marriage should be added to the list of casualties.   They’ve seen enough.

Jill Bozeman is a committed, 17 year Army Wife, and the founder and dirctor of Operation Faithful Support, Inc, a grassroots, pro-marriage educational support program for the spouses of deployed service members.  She and her husband, SFC Wade Bozeman, and their two children are stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  For more information about OFS, please visit  www.operationfaithfulsupport.com.

*OFS is the only pro-marriage educational program supporting spouses and strengthening marriages throughout the deployment cycle.  Please contact jillbozeman@att.net, if you’d like to offer financial support to the only program walking the entire deployment and reintegration process with the families of our combat veterans.  Read more by visiting www.operationfaithfulsupport.com

 

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