"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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Still Here

I was scrolling through my newsfeed when I saw a picture posted on a fellow Military Spouse's wall. It was of a soldier in full body armor, in front of a tan vehicle, gun strapped across his chest holding a simple piece of paper that said:

We're still here.

When we returned to Fort Carson after block leave ... when I saw those mountains ... for a moment I felt like I could finally breathe. 

I loved being home. I ate more chargrilled oysters than should be allowed, more snowballs, and shrimp po-boys and beignets than I should probably admit. I gained five ... and by five I mean seven ... pounds after feeling hungry for the last too many months. I strolled through my favorite shops on Magazine. I saw friends I haven't seen in a very long time. I hugged babies and tried on a bridesmaid's dress. I was present and there and all of the things I wanted to be. I love my city. I love my family. I love being around the friends who have worked so hard to understand this life and to support me and embrace it. I am beyond blessed in my friendships.

I knew that going home, that returning to a world outside of the military bubble, would bring up those questions and responses that every military spouse tenses when she hears. I knew that certain comments are always unavoidable. I knew that someone - or many someones - at some point would look at me and say the words, and the very first day I was in my city someone did.

"I thought we were out of there!" She looked at me with absolute confusion.

Afghanistan. She thought we were out of Afghanistan.

No. Shaking my head. No.

I couldn't answer any of her questions. 


Don't know.


Can't say.

"How long?"

No clue.

How do people not know? How can they be so ill-informed? It is so easy for us to be reminded, day-in-and-day-out. We cannot forget. Last week and the week before when the flag at division sat at half-staff. When I entered the church and all of my music had been moved and I realized it was because two memorials had taken place. When I see a soldier dressed in multi-cam rather than ACU's. When writing up our calendar seeing when C won't be here. 

Watching my neighbors get together for dinners while they trade-off cooking responsibilities. Knowing C went to mow a neighbors yard because her husband isn't there to do it. Hearing a knock on the door from a pregnant neighbor saying she noticed C's jeep and can he help her move a heavy box up to the new nursery.

Listening to a friend's hushed voice when she says her husband worked with the warrant officer that was killed several weeks ago. 

There is not a moment that her soldier is on foreign ground that she forgets. 

We do not forget. We cannot forget. There are reminders all around us. I sat through two Care Team trainings last week preparing to begin to teach it and to sit through one of those ... I sat beside a Gold Star Spouse throughout. 

We can't forget.

The photo was of a soldier that could have been anyones soldier, in the armor that weighs more than most could carry, with a simple hand written sign begging, 

We're still here.

Don't Forget Us.

How can so many not know?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Red, White, and Blue - A Give-Away!

Let's have a GIVE-AWAY!!

As a thank you to all of you who have followed our journey, someone will win this handmade wreath! 

How to enter: 
You can receive up to two entries for this give-away.

1. Comment below with how long you have been a military spouse/family member and which branch you are associated with. : )

2. Share your favorite blog post with your facebook friends and tag the Fan Page "To Love A Soldier" in your post. Be sure to leave a SEPARATE comment below stating that you did.

Who can enter:

Because this is a US wreath you MUST be a U.S. Military Family Member to be eligible. I know we all come from different walks along this journey and another give-away will come soon for everyone to participate in. 

You must be 18 or older to enter this give-away.

The Give-away begins NOW (0800 MST on 17 August 2012 and ends as 2300 MST on 24 August 2012)

Start sharing and GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Losing Words

When C was looking at his schedule and moving things around, I had no idea what he was trying to accommodate on a week that he already had much going on. When he said he needed to work-in a course I couldn't think of what he was needing to take - but there is always something, always another thing to add.

Today he came home for lunch - a rarity but he has been trying to fit that short time in. It means a lot that he is really trying to make that effort, to see us when he can.

The look on his face was one that I had not seen in some time. It was a look that I had not seen since he was a rear-detachment commander. More specifically, a face I hadn't seen since he acted as a CNO (casualty notification officer), and there was good reason. This "course" is one he has taken before for another post. This course is Casualty Notification and Assistance. 

I don't know how to say how that realization affected me. There are no words to describe what it is to watch your husband escort the mother of his friend who had been - literally - blown up through his chest to his memorial. There are no words to explain the hurt you see in his face when a wife struggles with losing her husband, who blames him, whose anger and hatred and grief so deeply affects your spouse who is very much alive and very much helpless. Who would bring her husband back in a heart beat. Who would have taken his place if he could have to take away that hurt. Because her husband had served beside him. Her husband had been his soldier. And he was the hated person who was alive.

I don't have the words to say how very different it is to be married to the one who has to grieve than what it is like when they are deployed. Both struggles are great struggles, but to have lived through them both ... to have to see your soldier's struggle over a fallen friend ... I don't know how to make anyone feel that. I cannot tell you how very different it must be to be the one who buries his men - because nearly every one he buried had at one time been his. Many who had come home safely with him the tour before. I cannot fathom how hard it must be to see the families when the pain is the freshest. Families you have known, who you have laughed with, seen their children grow, their families grow. I do not know what it must feel like to be on the other end of that phone call when you tell a father his son no longer has his legs.

But C does. 

He promised me that this was something others were having to go through. He promised me that this was something across Brigade, that this wasn't odd, that he would most likely not be performing any of these duties again, but part of it I cannot shake. I never want that to be him again.


To see the pain, to be able to truly see agony in someone you share you heart with when that phone call comes, when they have to just go and "perform their duty". To see the despair in someone you hold entirely to yourself ... 

I have said in classes I have taught, to our families, that the week of training that C went through for CNO/CAO the first time was the most emotional training he had ever undergone. But this time, to go through it after having done it. To have to re-live all of that ... to remember ...  

It's agonizing. 

To not just have all the fears of "what if it's him", the "what if it is my doorbell." To feel all of the emotions that flood you before a deployment , but so much more when you know the process, when you have friends who have gone through this - are going through this, will go through this ... to feel all of that but then to feel what I felt when I couldn't take away the agony, when I was flooded with the guilt, the unthinkable grief, the sadness, the helplessness ... to think of living the life of a CNO's spouse again ... to think of ... to think of C ever being the one who falls ... 

The very thought.

I ... I ... lose my words.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Veteran's Words

I saw something online yesterday that I wanted to share. Because of who it quoted I wanted to be certain I could find the original source. I searched and I searched, typing different things in google, putting different parts of the speech into the search bar. Every single result, on every single page, showed the exact same speech, credited to the exact same person, but not a single page cited when it was said, where it was said, or the context surrounding it. The fact that none of that was shared made me extremely hesitant to pass it along so I didn't. 

The man who had been quoted and had been listed as the speaker is a man I have the utmost respect for. 

I knew that a speech of this magnitude, coming from who it was said to have come from, would have to have documented sources and timeframes. But it wasn't just for that reason I didn't share it. 

Had I not gone through the Promises scenario many months ago, I probably would have just (wrongfully) clicked "share". I probably would have posted it to the blog - it impacted me that much. But something in my gut told me "He didn't say this. You will be misproperly quoting. This phenomenal writing could belong to someone else that has been forgotten because 'someone' at 'some point' quoted it as 'someone else'." 

I am so very glad that today I found the source. I hope you will read it and then head over to THIS POST and offer support. I know what it is to have your work taken. To be credited isn't why we write. But no writer shares so that someone else can be given credit for what we have put our passion into.

Below is the writing of Nick Palmisciano (President, Ranger Up) 

I remember the day I found out I got into West Point.
My mom actually showed up in the hallway of my high school and waited for me to get out of class. She was bawling her eyes out and apologizing that she had opened up my admission letter. She wasn’t crying because it had been her dream for me to go there. She was crying because she knew how hard I’d worked to get in, how much I wanted to attend, and how much I wanted to be an infantry officer. I was going to get that opportunity.
That same day two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: “Nick, you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military. You should go to college, instead.”
I could easily write a tome defending West Pont and the military as I did that day, explaining that USMA is an elite institution, that separate from that it is actually statistically much harder to enlist in the military than it is to get admitted to college, that serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men should at least consider for a host of reasons, but I won’t.
What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing.
In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam, 4.3% served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror. These are unbelievable statistics.
Over time, fewer and fewer people have shouldered more and more of the burden and it is only getting worse. Our troops were sent to war in Iraq by a Congress consisting of 10% veterans with only one person having a child in the military. Taxes did not increase to pay for the war. War bonds were not sold. Gas was not regulated. In fact, the average citizen was asked to sacrifice nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have chosen to out of the goodness of their hearts.
The only people who have sacrificed are the veterans and their families. The volunteers. The people who swore an oath to defend this nation. You.
You stand there, deployment after deployment and fight on. You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart from kids you’ll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand. And you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand. They don’t understand suffering. They don’t understand sacrifice. They don’t understand that bad people exist. They look at you like you’re a machine – like something is wrong with you. You are the misguided one – not them. When you get out, you sit in the college classrooms with political science teachers that discount your opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan because YOU WERE THERE and can’t understand the “macro” issues they gathered from books with your bias. You watch TV shows where every vet has PTSD and the violent strain at that. Your Congress is debating your benefits, your retirement, and your pay, while they ask you to do more.
But the amazing thing about you is that you all know this. You know your country will never pay back what you’ve given up. You know that the populace at large will never truly understand or appreciate what you have done for them. Hell, you know that in some circles, you will be thought as less than normal for having worn the uniform. But you do it anyway. You do what the greatest men and women of this country have done since 1775 – YOU SERVED. Just that decision alone makes you part of an elite group.
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.

Again, please visit his post and show your support. I am grateful for the many who rushed to my side to defend my writing. I hope so many can do the same for him.