The Invisible Injuries of the Invisible Ranks: A Military Spouse

Earlier today I received an e-mail from an on line friend, she is the wife of a military serviceman now serving in Iraq, she is also very active in support of her fellow spouses and the families as well as returning OIF and OEF military personal seeking needed help but finding the going sometimes extremely troubling, confusing or denied.

Many of us Veterans have found her and she us and have gotten to know her through our own advocacy of our brothers and sisters. Some are working directly with her and she with them.

She has written a very personal letter, the title I used above is the one from her letter to us, of her experiences and feelings, as a military spouse, and while posting it on a few sites it has now found it's way to a number of other sites.

This is what I received earlier, I've added the links.

 

Military spouses are often called the silent ranks, but sometimes it seems as though we are invisible too. On top of that, when our service members go to war and we hold down the home front, many of us carry our own burdens, make our own sacrifices, and sometimes, have own invisible wounds.

Michelle Obama has said that she is going to focus on the needs of military families. Given that focus, I thought my latest blog was particularly timely: Military Spouse Press

This blog was also posted on Military.com, but I wanted to draw your attention to our blogging site, Military Spouse Press. Anyone can register and post their own thoughts and experiences and comment on the blogs of others. In 2009, let us continue to encourage and inspire one another to be strong for the service members we love, the families we love, and the country we love.

Carissa Picard, Esq. President Military Spouses for Change P.O. Box 216 Copperas Cove, TX 76522 Military Spouses for Change

Those of you reading who might be spouses of or even family members might want to bookmark not only Carissa's group site but also their interactive blog Military Spouse Press, you can also join that site and interact with posts and comments with the other spouses using it now. It's not an extremely active site but there are some great posts and information to be found there, and the more joining in the more support that will generate for everyone.

I won't add much to what Carissa wrote, just give you some cuts from, and encourage you to visit the link above or this Truthout Link where it is also now posted to read what she wrote in it's entirety.

Carissa S. Picard stands at the entrance to Fort Hood, Texas. Picard is the founder and president of Military Spouses for Change. (Photo: Erich Schlegel / Dallas Morning News)

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

 

"A 2008 RAND study reports that at least one in five soldiers are returning from war with PTSD. When are they going to do a study on the spouses and children left behind in these wars? The ones who self-medicate or are prescribed anti-depressants {parent and child alike}, who can never look at the world or the Army or themselves the same way again? What have we lost in service to this country?

We are only a third of the way through my husband's deployment and I can already identify our wounded. Am I the only one paying attention?"

Expectations

 

I don't know what military life was like before 9/11, but I can tell you what it is like now: and it isn't quirky and wacky and "just like civilian life but different." There is a reason Sarah Smiley {a female Dave Barry} is a Navy wife and Jenny {the cartoon} is an airman's wife: Army and Marine wives have less to laugh about.

In March 2008, The Associated Press reported that 72 percent of Iraq deaths were Army, 24 percent were Marine, two percent were Navy and one percent was Air Force. These percentages obviously reflect who is being deployed the most; i.e., who is being exposed to combat and who isn't.

Casualties of War

 

My ex-husband called me the other day and asked me what a "Blue Star wife" was. I explained that it was a wife whose husband was serving in combat.

Then I asked him if he knew what a Gold Star wife was. Of course he didn't.

"That's a wife whose husband has died in combat."

"Wow," he replied, "that's, uh, kind of sick, isn't it?"

I laughed. I knew what he meant. The "Gold Star" comes across as a quasi-cultural "WAY TO GO!" for the surviving family member (as the term technically applies to the entire family). And let us not forget the "Silver Star" for the family of a service member wounded in a war!

A Call to Arms

 

Nothing prepares you for war. There is no training center for spouses. You are either going to make it or you won't.

They're Not Waving, They're Drowning

 

In June, the parade of terribles begins. News from the front: soldiers being electrocuted in the showers, self-inflicted gunshot wounds, 10-year-old suicide bombers, sexual assaults on female soldiers.

I am learning not to worry about that which I cannot control {i.e., the life or death of the father of my children}, although much of your time will be spent listening and validating the feelings and experiences of others: your soldier-spouse, your warrior-children.

 

For example, when a soldier deploys to combat, those of us at home eventually get "the call."

The call comes when his {or her} veneer of strength has cracked. When something really bad has happened; when he {or she} has witnessed {or done} something that he/she was not prepared for or expecting to be upset by; when the surreal becomes real and that reality comes crashing down upon them with crushing force.

Nothing prepares you for this call, and you will usually hang up hurting and feeling totally useless.

Like I said you should read this whole Letter to Us from One who is Sacrificing. And if you can visit the Military Spouses for Change site and offer any help you might be able to, as they are not only spouses of and family of they also Sacrifice their time and energy for those others who are serving!

As Carissa signs off her e-mails:

 

"Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, 'the greatest,' but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is."

Sydney J. Harris

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OBAMA’S HOMETOWN KICKS OFF “CAMP HOPE”

Sub-freezing temperatures and a brisk wind did not darken the day in Drexel Park for the kick off of Camp Hope, an 18-day vigil just down the street from Barrack Obama’s home on Chicago’s south side, yesterday.

Organized by a coalition of social justice, religious and peace organizations from the Chicago area, Camp Hope’s goal is to remind President-elect Obama of the progressive themes he sounded in his campaign and urge him to follow through with policy changes when he takes office later this month.

Ferner, who gives report, is a freelance journalist from Ohio and author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq"

There was a CNN video report, a short time ago, but it isn't posted on their site.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

Raising an army of counselors

Returning combat troops, new vets, families targeted

Locally and across the country, grass-roots groups and major organizations are launching or expanding mental health services for returning combat troops, new veterans and their families.

They hope the free or low-cost counseling, mentoring and other forms of outreach will fill in gaps left by the military and Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal is to prevent combat stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries from causing long-term depression, alcoholism, homelessness, criminal activity and marital or parenting problems.

“(We) want to preclude what happened with many of the Vietnam War vets,” said Bob Zimmerman, president of the nonprofit group We Thank Our Troops and a self-described “house dad” to Marines and soldiers recovering from war wounds at the San Diego Naval Medical Center.

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."