In a sort of funny way, one might look at the title of this post and there might be elbow jabbing amongst wives as we say to ourselves, "of course it is, they make it really hard." It's true if you think about it. We, as the family, are just pawns in the game, a game we aren't in control of. For all intents and purposes it is inhospitable. It's not an easy thing. For the most part we go and do as we're told. We have to be spunky, and creative and patient beyond belief. As your average run of the mill spouse, I've been through a lot. It's a path I've chosen for myself and nothing really has gone exactly as planned.
One of my dear friends is the wife of a Wounded Warrior. It's an invisible wound, but a wound none the less. She's been through even more than I have. Wives are typically not part of the process, at least in her case. It took entirely too long before she was included. She's not the one that signed the papers or raised her hand..I get it. Half the time it seems that those that did raise their hands don't even want to be a part of the process, and if they do they cant' be properly heard because of the set up. I can not begin to tell you how many times I've heard fear expressed over careers if they were to become involved in the process. The process is broken. A fabulous MilSpouse, Kristle at Forget the Dog, Not the Baby, does some amazing work with wounded vets and issues of TBI and PTS. I personally think she's pretty darn amazing. She knows a lot more about this stuff then I do, but even someone like me with my limited experience in this department knows that what is going on here is wrong. There are so many amazing bloggers out there that bring things like this to the forefront. Wife, Widow of a Wounded Marine, who also recently started a Widows for Wounded program, writes candidly about her experiences. After Blast Warrior Wife talks plainly about her experience as the wife of a physically wounded soldier.
There's been some articles that I've come across lately that always brought the phrase "inhospitable environment" to mind. Last week, on LATimes.com there was an article and sexual assaults in the military. Not an new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination, which makes it even more sad. Different then what Warriors with injuries from war have experienced, but with similar symptoms and traumas. Something else similar - this monster that tells them to buck up, fly right and be a Soldier - Airmen, Marine or what have you. This fear of compromising their livelihood, their careers, their reputations. This organization with such legacy, that protects our freedoms, keeps us safe - this is the same place where people feel unsafe, unprotected. I've been through lots of psychology classes, working for my degree - and it just amazes me that it didn't dawn on someone sooner that happy and healthy soldiers, make better soldiers. I realize change takes time. We've seen it before, the integration of other races, women and other changes that have taken place - they all take time. I get this too. I just wish this change would have started sooner. I wonder though what it was like back in the day, something I'd really like to do research on. We haven't made enough changes, but at the same time so much has changed. Technology and medical advances had changed so much. Assistance programs like Wounded Warriors and so many others had made things progress so far. I wonder what it must have been like for my grandfathers. One of them was a top turret gunner in the Army Air Corp during WWII. I know he experienced things far beyond my understandings. Deployments were longer and harder. No communications, no phone calls, no fancy chow halls or places to do laundry. I can't imagine things being any easier then they are now. People got hurt, PTS, TBI...without all the things we DO have today. I can't imagine. I know we are lucky. But is it enough?
As cheesy as it sounds, one step in front of the other. Banding together to make change. We need brave men and women to keep stepping forward. We need husbands and wives to keep stepping forward. We need PEOPLE to keep stepping forward. I think many Military Spouses will admit that they thought about what they would do, how they would react, if something happened to their soldier. But why wait until then to talk about it? I may not have direct experience, but I think the problem is that too many people wait because they feel like they have no room to talk because they haven't experienced it. People in the situation have a hard time finding that voice. Not everyone is as driven and loud as some of those ladies I've had the pleasure of reading in the blogsophere. My friend that I spoke of earlier, felt lost, isolated and usure of where to go. No friends, no family, and no support.
So I guess this post is part awareness, part sharing, part challenge. How can you, whoever you are, your average joe, military spouse, child, sister, brother, cousin, whatever...how can you help? How can we change things?