Military Martha National Guard/Reserve

Loose Lips Might Sink Ships!

Loose Lips Might Sink Ships-

One of the greatest blessings of my life was to marry a man I love with all my heart.  SGM Martha and I have been married since Jesus was in diapers, and we’re planning on staying married until the day one of us dies and the other retires to Florida.  The second blessing of our life was to combine our families- both military and civilian.  SGM Martha came as a package deal with my two handsome step-sons, John Major and Sargent.  Our third blessing came with the addition to our family of our children Maverick and Liberty Belle.  We are a military family with civilian relatives, and it is our greatest joy to represent the military in our life and community.

I know many of us military families who don’t live on post feel a bit isolated from military life.  And today was the first time in ages I truly felt that isolation from all things military.  I am honored to represent the Army to my civilian friends and family members.  I am honored to answer their questions and I’m not bothered by the duty of –for lack of a better term– translating military life into civilian equivalents.  I’m sure we all have those horror stories of times when a civilian asked a rude, insensitive or intrusive question… but even those don’t bother me because as Oprah would say, I see it as a teachable moment.  Many of our civilian family and friends haven’t experienced the hardships and sacrifice of our daily lives, let alone a deployment… they don’t know how strong we’ve become through our experiences.  So when that rude or insensitive question is asked, I remind myself that they just don’t know better until someone like me explains it.

Today I found myself explaining something that I take for granted as common sense.  I should preface this with the fact that my oldest step-son John Major followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Army a little over a year ago.  He has been serving in one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan and has tragically lost several members of his unit and platoon.  He is a changed man- he is no longer the young boy who became my son years ago, he is no longer the young man I proudly bid farewell with hugs and tears as he left for war, he has become a man who has experienced more in his life than many will ever in a lifetime.  I am as prepared as I can be for the change in who he has become, but I fear many others are not ready for his return.  I fear that he is returning to a new bride, a new home and a new “normal” he is not yet ready to accept.  But I’m hopeful that he will know that his father and I are here for whatever help he needs in adjusting to his new life.

As you read what I’ve just written I hope you will take note that I have not given you much information about my step-son.  You know he’s in the Army, you know he’s returning from Afghanistan, and you know he lost several members of his unit.  What I didn’t tell you is where he was in Afghanistan, I didn’t tell you when exactly he’s coming back, I didn’t tell you how many people are in his unit or how many died.  I was very careful to narrate this with as little information as I could and still give you the details.  I am practicing OPSEC or Operational Security.  This is the hardest thing for me to explain to my civilian family.

OPSEC has very simple rules- they can be found on this website with great detail;

http://www.heartsofourtroops.com/opsec_rules2.htm

I had to remind some of my civilian family today that we can’t talk on Facebook about when John Major is returning.  As excited as we all are about his return and our need to share that excitement, we’re putting John Major in real danger.  By telling even our friends about his return with the strictest privacy controls, it’s still a public forum.  I’m not saying that Al Qaida is monitoring our Facebook page or even the HUN, but what if our best friend is reading it?  What if our best friend is so excited about John Major’s return that she has coffee the next day with another friend and is overheard talking about the specifics?  We don’t know who might overhear that conversation… and put John Major at risk.  I know it seems like a lot fear mongering and over-reacting to my civilian family and friends… but because we are an open society we’ve seen first hand how that can be taken advantage of by terrorists.  I won’t argue the point that can be made of this- but the events of 9/11 changed how we think of our openness as civilians… we military folks have been living it for years.  So maybe it’s best we think of OPSEC as the stone that creates the ripple in the pond. Let’s not make waves that could cost more American lives… Loose lips might sink ships!

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5 thoughts on “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships!”

  1. Thank you for making this such a priority Military Martha. This is one topic that I will never get tired of reading or writing about. Too many people still have no clue what OPSEC/PERSEC is!

    1. not a bad thing at all, which is why I included the website to offer more information. Just remember that OPSEC stands for Operational Security, things like troop movement, location, numbers… the who, what, where, when and why of your military spouse’s missions. PERSEC is personal security things like your social security number, computer passwords, bank account information… the who, what, where, when, and why of your life. Neither of these things are things you want a stranger to know so just be careful who you talk to about any of it in public. Being aware of who might be listening in can save your life… literally!

      PS- for more information about protecting your PERSEC the NRA offers a class designed to fit the needs of women called “Refuse to be a Victim”. I’m an instructor for this class and can say it’s very informative!

  2. Martha…..I think my son is where your step-son is…..it has been horrid and we worry the same things as you……except that our son’s young wife decided shortly after his deployment, that she wasn’t interested in being the wife of a deployed soldier, and told him so. He has that to come back to as well as trying to live outside of the hell he has been through. Like you, I have a husband who is also still getting over being “over there” a couple of times. I’m proud…..and sometimes exhausted. I’ve prayed for your husband……I will pray for your boy……..and for his “mom” who tries to hold her men together.

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