Last night on SpouseBuzz Radio, two of my fellow contributors here at Parents Zone and I talked with AF Wife about what it’s like to have a child in the military and the fear we feel for our adult children (LAW and I managed to monopolize the conversation and Tammy, we sooo need to make this up to you!!) In the 4 years that I have been blogging and through Lord knows how many troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan (I don’t think they’re adding numbers to the OIF____ label anymore), I realize and completely accept that it’s universal. Every parent has the same fear for their child/children… and it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s their first deployment or their third. We worry.
Back in December 2004 — before my son even left for his deployment to Iraq — I wrote a blog post about how You Always Worry and talked about how our worry changes as our children grow… as they learned to walk, to run, to ride, to drive… I was talking with a dear, close friend whose Army National Guard son is scheduled for his second deployment to Iraq in 2009 and who recently learned that his unit might go months earlier than originally scheduled. You could hear the worry in her voice and we talked about “the last time” when both our sons were deployed at the same time. I went back and read some of my blog posts back during that deployment, and I discovered how often worry was a topic. Just weeks before my son was wounded, I explained:
It’s a constant 24 hour a day worry that wears on you, grates on you, weighs on you. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. I don’t always realize it but sometimes I wonder why I’m so tired some nights or why I can’t sleep most nights… It’s the worry. The wear and tear of it. It’s like the drone of a motor always on or the hum from fluorescent lights… always there… always present… even when you’re doing other things or thinking other thoughts… it’s THERE. The worry is always there. I know other moms and dads and wives and husbands and sisters and brothers will understand what I mean.
Last year I was speaking with a Major General who is the son of a retired Army Colonel and who is also the father of a fairly new Army Lieutenant. He told me that he had been in the Army 32 years and married for 31 of those… and through his many deployments over his career, he always told his family not to worry as he waved goodbye for one assignment or another to dangerous parts of the globe… but he said it was a whole new world when it was he who stood on the front porch as his own son told him not to worry as he left for his first deployment to Iraq… he told me that sending his child off to war was the hardest thing he had ever done.
So, while the media may be ignoring the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (unless, of course, there is some political point to be made), I know in hearing from parents, spouses, friends and families of our Soldiers and Marines that these are still universal emotions for the families of those who serve. And it matters not whether our children are single, married, divorced, have children of their own… parents STILL worry.
I also know from experience, that a burden shared, is a burden lightened. I know that right now people are consumed with worry about the economy and the election… Lord knows there is plenty of worry to go around. I just ask you to take a moment and remember our troops deployed around the world, about to be deployed and those who are home (because we know that for some the battle doesn’t end on the battlefield)… say a prayer, have a good thought, generate positive energy — whatever it is you do…. remember our Guys… and their families…. thank a veteran… say a kind word… call someone you know who is worrying. It will make your day.
x-posted at Some Soldier’s Mom
Sometimes we forget, that every member of the family is affected by the decision one makes to join the military. The Moms and Dads… we remember our baby, our child and are so proud, and apprehensive, and worried, and then more proud. The brothers and sisters… how do they feel? I, for one, have no siblings, and we only had the one child. I always wondered how the siblings feel. Now, I’ll be able to learn that too.
Two young men have decided to write a blog whilst their big brother is in Basic Training! The Brothers Blog is a celebration of brotherly love for the soldier they miss and look up to. Anyone else have a siblings blog? If you do, please send the link. We’d love to put it on our Roll.
Progress and Graduation:
And the countdown continues! You worry, and hope for that call (by the way, this is something you’ll be doing for a long time!) Progress is hard to judge, since you aren’t getting calls or letters. BUT – the military thought of this. There are sites for you to check on what the class is doing – see their schedule and wonder how they pack it all in. There are links to the sites listed below
SSM: Most units have a web page where you can at least access a syllabus of their training regimen week by week and track their progress towards “graduation”. And whatever you do — if you can make the graduation — DO IT! You’ll never regret it.
Lela: parents can get a lot of info on what mail to do (or not do) from the websites, as well as training schedules. The site really helped me deal with the “no news is good news” part of wondering why my son didn’t write. I looked at his schedule, saw how chock full it was, or that there was a test coming up, and it eased the worry.
Finally – it ends. They are graduating, and it’s impressive! Now – the graduation date can change.. a few times. Keep an eye on the website!
The DAY: First, you meet up at the barracks.. and it’s hard to recognize your recruit! There are rules that the recruit cannot leave post before graduation. In some cases, they need a “post pass” to be able to leave the company area – on Knox you can hit the museum, or the bowling alley (which was packed with parents, recruits, brothers and sisters, girlfriends, wives, kids… a very happy place) They have curfew, and cannot drink alcohol. Don’t let them get into trouble on the last night.. because they can and have been set back at the last minute.
They have made battle buddies that they may or may not see again, but for that time, that place, they were closer than anyone else can imagine. They grew up, lost weight, are suddenly amazingly polite and stand at parade rest when talking to you, they made a huge decision and are making more every day.
The ceremony is done as only the military can do it. Marching, music.. and then they put their hands up and take that oath. There were a lot of tears during that ceremony.. a lot of tears and memories. Remembering that little boy who learned to ride a bike, the little girl getting on the school bus for the first time by herself, the child who went away to Scout camp, all grown up now. It was a moment none of us will ever forget.
http://www.goarmy.com/life/basic/index.jsp The Army site
http://www.jackson.army.mil/ Ft. Jackson
http://www.wood.army.mil/HQ310/ Ft. Leonard Wood
https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/ Ft. Benning
http://www1.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ Naval Service Command – Great Lakes
http://www.mcrdpi.usmc.mil/ Parris Island
http://www.mcrdsd.usmc.mil/ San Diego
http://www.lackland.af.mil/units/737trg.asp Air Force – Lackland
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/ Cape May – Coast Guard
The Crud –
Take 30 or so men (or women) from all over the country and all their accompanying germs.
Add: Very little sleep
Stress and tension
Strange food, eaten at full tilt
Physical training and running everywhere
Sleeping in close quarters
Result: The Crud – usually a nagging, nasty, cough/cold, sinus involvement possible.
Your recruit will get sick. No matter how healthy, how prepared with running and physical training – your recruit will get the Crud. They ARE allowed to go to the clinic, but you will find your recruit will not want to – for whatever reason. They are scared that they will miss something important. Don’t worry, if they really get very sick, the Drill Instructor will make them go! One mom sent a LARGE box of bandaids – all sizes. BLISTERS! Those new boots will rub in some strange places.
LAW – our son’s biggest request was for cough drops. My husband thought it was for candy – sweet is sweet, but we found out that every one had a cold! His drill Sgt – at graduation- thanked me for sending the box of Halls that I shipped (of course I had to strain to hear him.. he had laryngitis!)
SSM — Navy, Marine or Army (I haven’t heard this from any AF moms) — they all get it — do you know that is why they sleep foot/head/foot head at boot camp? so no one is breathing on any other recruit!! (doesn’t help — they all get it anyway!
Lela: He did send me a note asking for vitamins and sore throat drops. They get the Boot Camp Crud at Parris Island as well. Everyone got sick at some point, according to my son. He also asked for bug spray to try to combat the sand fleas. According to him, it didn’t work.
So- did yours get the Crud, or something different? Any other suggestions?