Monday, February 8, 2010

The families also serve: A military spouse open letter

To the American Public From a Military Spouse An Open Letter (to anyone who can help) Written by: A Military Spouse December 14, 2009

This is a open letter to the Commander in Chief, First Lady Michelle Obama, the leaders of our Armed Forces, and the American Public. If it moves you, contact your elected officials.

News stations count the casualties of the War on Terrorism; by using body counts. Those numbers represent the service members who have not come home breathing to their family members. What about those that came home breathing, but dead inside? Those who suffer daily from some form, or extreme of Depression, PTSD, TBI, or any other of a half dozen syndromes? What about the families left behind whose soldiers are not getting the medical and mental health treatment the government has promised?

Our leaders stand in front of the American public and talk about how much the war is costing, and how much help is available to our returning soldiers and their families. We throw billions upon billions of dollars to artificially hold up the banking system and the value of our dollar. Yet, we sit by and do nothing while our American families fall apart.

I am the spouse of an Active Duty Soldier; I have spent over half of my marriage away from my soldier. I watched as the United States began to bomb Iraq and my soldier walked onto a plane for parts unknown. I have dropped everything when my phone rang, and my life stood still for the 15 minutes allotted to call home after standing in line for five to six hours, during the initial invasion back in March of 2003.

I have stood by and watched as my Soldier went overseas on his second tour only a few weeks after having gone through hernia surgery and knee surgery in quick succession. He deployed before finishing his physical therapy, and the Army promised to let him finish in a war zone. In case your wondering; he was never given the chance to finish his physical therapy.

I have sent my husband emergency messages through the Red Cross only to wait days to hear from him, that time was spent watching over our infant son in his hospital crib. I have scraped and scrambled for everything we have and have given up my own education for the War on Terrorism. My husband’s career has come first.

I have rocked my children to sleep after daddy has left; sometimes those absences are only a few days, and sometimes they are 15 months. I have been the rock that holds everything together; when everything around us is falling apart. I have asked only one thing of the Military. To protect my family; to make sure that my family is safe, to give my family what my husband is giving to the rest of the world. I am proud to be a Military Spouse, but am not proud of the lack of inaction on the part of the government.

As a military spouse; when the absolute worst disaster happens or when a conflict comes down to war; I know one thing. My family will be saying good-bye to our soldier while the rest of the world is safe in their beds.

I have held up my end of the bargain; the Military and American Government has not. I was on the front lines during the initial invasion. My husband’s military unit deployed on the day the war started in March of 2003 at that time FRG (Family Readiness Group) was looked at a silly little wives club. We received no official funding from the government and many units did not have one. I helped to put one together during that first deployment - and had only been married a couple months.

I have watched as over 6,000 service members have died in either Iraq or Afghanistan defending your right to do what you want, go where you want, and say what you want. Now, it’s my turn.

I have watched as the man I married has died inside. I have waited for him to work through his demons. I have fought to protect my family's rights from corporate America and to give my children a normal life. I have asked for help from the military; I have sought help in the laws written to protect my family. I have received none. I am currently suing my mortgage company for a violation of our rights and have asked my husband's chain of command for help in getting my husband mental health help.

I volunteered my time to help other families navigate the military world. I have freely given of time and knowledge. I have stood up for myself as I was given an order (as a volunteer) and could not meet due to work obligations after my husband had stopped supporting our family financial - and the military did nothing. I stood up for myself as my husband's military commander threatened me with harm and to be put in jail; while I had broken no laws. I watched in horror as the complaint I filed to protect my family was promptly dismissed after a ‘through investigation’ where not one person ever actually spoke to me. Yet, my husband was required to write a sworn statement.

I watched as my friend’s were sent to fight this War on Terror for the third or fourth time and finally I watched as my husband slowly withdrew into himself, unable to work through his own demons. I cried as he walked out the door abandoning his family both emotionally and financially. My husband no longers lives in our home or interacts with our children. The military knows all of this and does nothing.

I fought back as corporate American tried to illegally take my family's home. I asked for help from our elected officials as my family was attacked and the laws to protect us were not followed. I am fighting this battle through the court system; without a lawyer. The local Senate offices tried to help; they could do nothing.

I asked the military for help not for my children or for myself, but for my husband. You see, my husband shows all of the common signs of PTSD. He has deployed to Iraq twice. We have a special needs toddler. My husband has lost his dad, his step-dad, and had to come home early from his last deployment as his mom had emergency bypass surgery; she wasn't expected to survive.

I stood up to the Commander who tried to put me in jail because I didn't follow his order (as a volunteer); I stood up to big business as they try to take my home away (I filed a lawsuit); I have repeatedly went to my soldier’s chain of command and told them he is self-destructing and to please have him evaluated. I have been ignored.

The shooter in Fort Hood didn't show any signs either and he killed thirteen. I am a family member and I am telling them there is problem; no one will listen. This is a open letter to anyone who will listen. I am a military spouse and I have been forced to sit by as the War on Terrorism destroys the love of my life, and as it robs my children of their father through the inaction of the military.

When it’s your turn who will fight for you? I will continue to fight for those who cannot, but know this.

The Military says its dedicated to families and soldiers especially after they come home from War – BUT there are Soldiers and families who are falling through the cracks. Who will help them? Who will help my family?

Will it be you?

You can contact this military spouse via the link at the bottom of the original site here. And you can also contact every one of your local politicians to demand that they do take care of our military families - who also serve. These families, these children, deserve nothing less.

I spoke to this military spouse at length after reading this heartfelt letter. One thing came through to me loud and clear. This is a family who has served - IS serving America - with honour. The soldier is keeping his commitment to the contract he made with the US; the military spouse is keeping HER commitment to the contract she made when she married a military man. Seems to me, that it is now long overdue for the military, and America, to keep their commitment to this family, this military spouse. The military must step up and do whatever it takes to help military families when they most need that help. The families have already fought a war on one front. They do not need to be having to wage war with the military administration that is allowing them to fall through the bureaucratic cracks. Period.

As this military wife said, above: I have held up my end of the bargain; the Military and American Government has not. She later said to me: "The army broke him. Now the army needs to fix him." I agree, and we all need to insist that the military stands by their end of the bargain to our most precious assets: our soldiers, and their families.

H/T Marti of War on Terror News, which is where I originally found this.


Anonymous said...

I thought for a while there that these issues would receive some well-deserved attention when First Lady Michelle Obama made military families her focus. After a few speeches to groups, she has now changed to childhood obesity as her focus. I was so hoping that the military families out there were going to finally receive some support and assistance which they so richly deserve and need. I am so sorry for the pain that this family is feeling. Even more heartbreaking is that this is not an isolated case. We are living in very troubled times.


Brenda Freeman said...

Wonderful! I have done every single thing this fabulous wife has done as well! Talk about the FSG and no funding, givng up your life for that of your spouse, .... and so forth. I think every military wife can echo every single item in ths laundry list of "been there done that times 4 at least"! Very good summary of what it truly takes to be a military wife. As devils advocate--I dont need to remind you, that if the Military wanted you to have a wife and family, they would ISSUE you one....remember. ITs MISSION FIRST--everything else is not important. That mindset has not changed in the military on over the 30+ yrs I have been a military brat, or spouse. Its the hardest pill to swallow for most military wives. Simply that the family really doesnt matter as much as the soldier and MISSION. The Mission--thus far--isnt OVER yet. So our guys have to fight hard for medical care of any sort. When we can say the War on terrorism is over--then the focus will go back to 'peace time garrison' efforts to tend to our sick, ill, mamed and hurting. I say this with all due respect. I too, have to sit by the sidelines wondering WHEN the VA will step up and take care. The answer is 'when the MISSION is over.'