"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Missed Understanding

The Garrison Command of our post put on an online townhall via Facebook sometime ago. Reps from every major part of post life were in "attendance" - to include the Garrison Commander. 

I didn't ask any questions, didn't respond to any questions, but I did read every single issue that was brought up. I thought the reps did a good job of directing people to where they needed to go with their issues. Offering specific phone numbers, contacts, so that each agency could speak to specific issues on a personal level. The Garrison Commander even offered his office number to a spouse with many questions. For the first time around, I thought the command group did a good job. They did what I believe should be done - they directed people where they needed to go and then left it for them to take the initiative to do it. 

The purpose of the Town Hall was to answer questions about the drastic cuts that have been put into place and how and what things will change. Some people - many people - stayed on point and asked questions that I was also curious about. But there were a handful of spouses that took the public forum as an opportunity to bash their husbands' units - questioning why they weren't allowed to come home for lunch, or why they weren't allowed to attend certain retreats, or why they were/are flagged, etc. etc. etc. One spouse basically took on the Garrison Commander head on and I applaud him for how well he handled it. 

This may get a little too personal here. This may be one of those posts where what I feel isn't the same as what half of you feel. But I have been needing to write - and what I keep sitting down to write about isn't something I can write about - so this is where my fingers are taking me and I'm rolling with it. 

I am going to say now, that if you don't agree, that is OKAY with me! I promise. I hope you won't step away from the blog because of it. 

Anyway.

I personally have never lived "old army". That is before my time but many of my friends and mentors have and I have listened to their stories. I have read the books on etiquette and traditions and customs. I like "old army". There are parts of it that I wish I could experience - minus the white gloves. 

Okay, I think I would even have the white gloves.

Yes, I probably would. But then you need the right dress and hair. White gloves wouldn't work with skinny jeans ... 

But that's not the point. 

I believe to my core that military spouses should understand the life they live - that their spouse lives. I believe that they should be involved in the community - that they should be active in their spouse's unit. I think that camaraderie can help to strengthen both spouse and soldier. There is importance in finding your voice and understanding the every day ins-and-outs of your soldier. 

Absolutely.

But that is not the same thing as telling the Garrison Commander of your husband's post that he doesn't get to come home for lunch every day, or that you don't think he should be flagged, or that he works too late, etc.

Oh, ladies, ladies, ladies, I cringed as I read some of these posts - public, identifiable posts by spouses.

It is not my belief that a spouse should ever cross the chain-of-command or should by-pass her husband's responsibility to take issues to his chain-of-command and bring them up in a public forum. I have seen things done every place that we have been that haven't been what I liked, or how I wanted, or what I thought was the proper way but it isn't my place to take up that issue. It isn't my place to circumvent the process, and Goodness knows, C would be a hot mess if I did.

There are so many times I want to go up to certain spouses and shake them, beg them to understand that a soldier is not just a soldier from nine to five. A soldier is a soldier from the moment they sign their name and take the oath to the day they separate from the service (and to many - far beyond that). Every minute in between, every second, they are a servant to a nation, answerable to a much higher authority - an authority above their spouse.

I was reading an article about in uniform protocol and etiquette yesterday. I thought it was an excellent source for spouses new to the military to better understand the rules that a soldier must adhere to while in uniform. I even learned a few things. But the public responses of some spouses saying no army rules will dictate how she acts around her soldier. No regulation will say whether she can kiss him in public, or expect him to answer a phone call on his cell phone while walking, or which side she will walk beside him, or that he has to let go of her hand to salute.

One spouse commenting that no other place of employment would inflict such rules on their employees.

Oh well that is the problem right there. Our spouses don't belong to any other organization or workplace. Our spouses belong to the greatest fighting force on Earth. Their protocol must demand greater discipline, it must expect a higher decorum from the people which represent it.

There are no breaks. There isn't a separation in the eyes of the Army. Your spouse is a soldier at. all. times.


He is always representing the force. Always projecting the image of what a soldier is, what a soldier should be.

The fact that C every now and then will quickly squeeze my pinky while we're walking and just as quickly let go is all that I need.  It's more than he needs to give when he is in uniform, representing his unit, his post, his branch, his nation. The fact that C has to shave every day - whether on duty or not - is something he agreed to. I feel no hardship when walking on his left side rather than his right to enable him to quickly and correctly salute.

The things some spouses were saying ...

I just kept shaking my head.

I married a soldier. I married a man who is held to a higher standard - who must comply with the rules set above him. It doesn't mean I love him any less because I don't squeeze his hand when he tries to jerk it up to return a salute. It doesn't mean I have any less passion because I am mindful and understanding of the uniform.

It means I respect his sacrifice. I respect the uniform he is privileged to wear. It means I understand the bigger picture, the importance of the rules, the reasons they exist.

I understand that he is - at all times - a soldier.



32 comments:

  1. Your words and thoughts have been my same thoughts for the last 3 years. I thought I was the only one who thought some of these things prior to reading your post.

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    1. It gives me more and more faith in our community to hear that SO MANY proud and committed spouses feel the same way!

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  2. Krystal Hartman-USAF wifeMay 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    well said.

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  3. Well, if you get any flack for this post, know this: I agree with you 100%. Excellent post.

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  4. Well done! I hear those complaints often and I just want to explain the pride and respect that we as spouses should have. Thank you for explaining it so well!

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    1. Thanks, Heather! I hear them so very often too. I wish people could understand the whole picture!

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  5. Couldn't Agree more :)

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  6. Right there with ya. I miss the "old army".

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    Replies
    1. I hope we are moving back to that at least some!

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  7. Very well said, and I agree with you too.

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  8. Can you post the link to the article you referenced? I think I need to read it. My husband is going AD from Reserve and there are so many things I don't know and I have desire to make his life harder by being ignorant of the expectations that I will face and he shouldn't have to explain every little thing. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Here you go! I should have done that to start! Thank you for asking.

      http://www.veteransunited.com/spouse/11-in-uniform-rules-every-military-spouse-should-know/

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    2. thanks - I was going to ask the same thing!

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  9. Nice Job! You were meant for this. Love you both and very proud of you.

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  10. Mind passing along that article? I know I'm still learning the ropes and would love to make sure I don't do anything embarrassing :)

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    Replies
    1. Here you go! I should have done that to start.

      http://www.veteransunited.com/spouse/11-in-uniform-rules-every-military-spouse-should-know/

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  11. I couldn't agree more! Very well saida

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  12. Great job! Wish I had the guts to blog

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  13. Well said and true!

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  14. just wanted to let you know that after reading this i posted a blog with a link to this one! I thought that this was great and needed even more sharing!

    http://navybratarmywife.blogspot.com/

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I LOVE comments! Thanks for sharing : )