I try very hard to balance both sides, to understand this war from the perspective of those outside of it while not imposing my views and experience as one who is directly affected by it. I think, as a military spouse, it’s vital and necessary to share our experience with those outside of our community, to tell the stories and share the journey. It’s equally important to understand the perspective of those who have little to no connection to the military community. How our world is presented by the media is rarely accurate. We become so frustrated that people don’t understand that we are still at war in Afghanistan, that units are actively deploying but when you watch the news, again and again we hear that the war is over. That our troops are coming home. And if you aren’t in our community, if you aren’t living our life, it is very difficult to see any other reality than the one presented.
I get that.
I really do.
But even with that understanding, even trying with everything in me to see that perspective, for the LIFE of me I cannot understand how this nation is “war weary”. And I mean that in how often it has been said by the media in the last several days, that “Americans are war weary”.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the over-use and frankly, ridiculousness of that statement. I get that the money spent on defense and wars is outrageous. I get that it has an effect on so much else. I get that. But don’t use “war weary”.
The men and women on their third, fourth, fifth tour of duty… heck! Six, seventh, eighth… they (if anyone) are “war weary”. Their families are tired.
There has been no draft. For thirteen years, our nation has been at war using a volunteer force. For thirteen years children have watched their mothers and fathers leave them to board a plane for a year at a time – sometimes longer, sometimes less. For thirteen years, parents, siblings, sons and daughters have missed first steps, first words, graduations, births, deaths. For thirteen years our military has barely been home while home. They have trained. They have fought. They have buried the dead. They have carried the lifeless bodies of their friends. They have shouldered the burden. They have done everything asked.
They have re-signed, re-pledged, re-joined. They have committed to this fight. My husband carried the body of a lifeless toddler out of a home in Baghdad ten years ago – a child that had been brutally and mercilessly murdered and then left to rot by those who hate everything that doesn’t fall in line with their belief. HE remained in the fight. HE lives with that image. HE will take the oath again next month and I will stand beside him as he does.
I have watched my child scream for his father as I drove him away to the airport. I have held my breath when news broke and have crashed to the ground when the black car didn’t stop in my driveway. I have sobbed in the shower until the tears were no more and the water had turned cold. I have thanked God for boots on American soil and mourned at the empty boots and helmets left.
I have mailed care packages while dozens of impatient “war weary Americans” tapped their feet behind me at the post office. I have remained silent while “war weary Americans” asked me if I was scared of my husband. I have held my tongue and politely explained every time a “war weary American” told me the war was over.
How can Americans be “war weary” when it seems like hardly anyone knows we are still at war?
Our troops are tired but this is their job, duty and commitment. Our families are tired but this is our love, life and community.
I don’t know what the right answer is. What the right step is. What the right move is. But I hold my breath every time another news anchor or reporter says “Americans are war weary”. I cringe every time there is debate about whether or not America is ready for another one. It rattles my brain to think of “America at war” as I try to count every time an American said with absolute shock, “we’re still over there??” while my husband was deployed. Our military has been at war, it still is.