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;
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!