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An IED by any other name, by Sara Konish

12 Jul

Sara is an Army wife of a 3/1 Soldier, working mom, and grad student, currently reintegrating after a year long deployment.

I was watching the news last night with my Soldier and they were covering the situation in Syria.  The reporter was talking about the rebels making explosive devices to take down the enemy (the government).  They even showed them making the bombs, cooking the explosives, and what the bomb did to a truck when hit.  The reporter called them explosives, but they are IEDs (roadside bombs).  We are sitting there watching these people be justified in blowing someone up.  This is crazy to me!  I started thinking about my husband in Afghanistan and IEDs and what it really means when he says “they got blown up.”

War is a terrible thing!  There is no doubt about that.  But what are some other IEDs in life?

I had lunch with a girlfriend some time back and we talked about our reintegration experience.  She was saying things that sounded just like us.  She was talking about how her husband would be angry and moody.  He would say that it was her and she was the one unhappy.  She was talking about the drinking, more than normal, or at least more than before.  She was talking about not sleeping, or not going to bed together.  I knew exactly what she was talking about.

I remember listening to the ladies who had been through re-deployment  talking about the “honeymoon stage” and about when it wore off and the rubber meets the road.  These were just words to me…I didn’t think of them as anything but a possibility.  When Rick came home, we were awesome; things were great.  I thought, “man, we are awesome, we totally skipped all the stuff they were talking about…we must just be that good!”  Yep, as with most things, I was wrong!

Reintegration is hard.  It is even harder to explain to someone who has never been through it.  Civilian wives do not understand what it is like, and they can’t really imagine it either.  Our neighbor and I talk about the deployment (her husband was deployed like Rick only on a main base, didn’t do firefight missions, and she had regular communication with him via Skype, etc.), however, I do not want to discount their deployment experience; he was deployed and she was without him.

Anyway, we do have some very similar experiences.  For one, the guys left when we were both pregnant, and we had the babies alone (well with our moms).  So, both of our Soldier’s came home to a new baby.  Her sister was asking us about it this weekend.  She said that she just couldn’t imagine it, going through what we went through, alone.  I told her, we didn’t have a choice.  That was what we had to do.

I think about those who say I am so strong.  I don’t personally think so, but ok.  I have to admit, it was terrible.  I hated Rick not being here.  I remember being in the hospital, thinking I was in labor when the nurses were telling me I wasn’t.  I was crying and my mom was comforting me.  I remember saying “I just want Rick!”

So, (as far as) the IEDs in life?  When the guys come back, little things will trigger each of you.  Last weekend we were at a cookout and a wife made this “cardinal sin” comment;  she said “I don’t understand, you spent a year with these guys, why do you need to spend more time with them?”  Well, don’t ever say that to a guy back from deployment!  She lost the fight.

Another thing, I was thinking of putting my daughter’s room into the bigger room (currently the spare guest room).  Rick didn’t like the idea.  I told him it was easier when I was making decisions by myself.  Don’t say that!  It can be very hurtful.

Talking about how much they smoke now, when they didn’t before, is probably not a good idea.  This goes for drinking too, I think, unless it is out of hand, or he is violent [in which case you might need to talk to a chaplain, or a trusted friend].

I know it is going to be just words to someone else, but they are true.  You really have to get to know each other again.  You have to compromise.  You have been two separate people living two lives for a year!  You have NO idea what he went through, even if you think he told you a lot.  And he has NO idea what you went through.  Don’t compare, don’t complain, just listen and work hard to communicate.

Marriage is hard all by itself.  Marriage in the military is that much harder.  Be committed to each other.  Know that there is more than just love, so if you aren’t feeling the love, work harder.  PRAY!  I know that prayer has gotten me through both the deployment and the reintegration.  I know we aren’t perfect, but I know we will be ok and our life will be as great as we make it.

Strength and love to all my military wives out there,

Sara

My name is Sara Konish, I am a wife, mother, full time employee, and graduate student.  My life is crazy, but I love it.  My husband, Rick, is a medic attached to 1-26 IN of 3/1.  He returned from a year long deployment in January 2012.  We have a daughter, Halaina, who is our pride and joy.  You’d never know she was born while he was away because she is a HUGE daddy’s girl.  We live at Fort Knox, KY, where I work as a Civilian Human Resources Specialist for the Army civilians.  I am working toward my masters in HR.  Life is crazy, but that is what makes it worth living. 

For more about Sara, visit her blog at http://mrsdoc.blogspot.com/

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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

 

Trauma-Strong?

26 Oct

Jill Bozeman, 17 year veteran Army spouse, and Founder/National Director of Operation Faithful Support, Inc.

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.  ~Author Unknown

I recently attended a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) conference where I had the privilege of hearing the CG (Commanding General) of Fort Knox, LTG Benjamin Freakley, address family, friends and Soldiers regarding these homecoming issues.  He introduced the entire conference by exposing us to a concept called “Post Traumatic Stress Growth”, which reframes traumatic events as an opportunity for greater strength.  And of course, this got me thinking about marriages, and the inevitable stresses that arise due to deployment and reintegration.

I’ve heard many times, from those who should know, that the obstacles in marriage will make you or break you.  And a marriage that is never tried is never strengthened.  Much like the caterpillar, with hopes of becoming a butterfly, struggles painfully to emerge from the cocoon, it is the struggle itself that strengthens his wings for flight.

No struggle, no flight.

And the man who prematurely cuts the butterfly from his struggle cripples him for life.

There is, of course, no need for us to look for trouble in order to grow, as each day has trouble of its own.   However, rather than seeing challenges as an ending, consider it an opportunity to grow the roots of your marriage so deep, that eventually the strongest storm can’t break you!

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.