They aren't different from you. They're not a special, tight-knit community somehow separate from the rest of the country. They're you. They're just you hoping every single day that the person they love most in the world doesn't die or lose an arm/leg/mind today...
[Words placed here to suck up space in the preview that appears on the "blogs" page so you're salivating to read the rest of the actual blog entry.]
The week of military family awareness, because it's Saturday, is - I suspect - over. But what I hope is that the week of targeted awareness - launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden and in partnership with AOL - inspired people to learn more about those who have, for ten years, been the tiny percentage of this country's population carrying the burden of continuous war.
Sorry - WARS.
I think it's because I have a little bit of experience waiting through a deployment ("waiting" sounds so easy, so passive, doesn't it?) that I was asked by Red Room (sincere and overwhelming gratitude to Red Room for this opportunity) to contribute to the Obama/AOL campaign by writing an article about an effort I've started to introduce the civilian population (99%) to the military family community (1%) in a way that offers unique insight and generates more empathy for their experience.
"Why?" <--I ask that on your behalf because I think it's a natural question, and the answer comes in two parts:
1) It's one of our country's stories that isn't adequately being told. To connect as a nation takes empathy, and the literature, movies, and media we're bombarded with has, as well as it can, tried to make us intimately aware of the day to day lives of good soldiers/bad soldiers/conflicted soldiers, good politicians/bad politicians/conflicted politicians, cancer victims/loved ones of cancer victims, kidnap victims/families of kidnap victims, parents of deaf children/cancer-stricken children/autistic children. But I can count on three fingers how many movies I've seen that explore the experience(s) of those left waiting during wartime or dealing with the after-effects.
2) Empathy leads to change, and the needs of military families will continue to be "needs" until enough of the country cares about them to want to add to their very quiet, 1% voice.
There are many stories to tell in a nation of people, but even after ten years -TEN YEARS - of war, the stories (because they are as complex and varied as any other experience, they are not "the story," but "the stories") of the military children/spouses/parents/lovers/friends are some of the least explored in any meaningful way. This lack of exploration has, I believe, greatly contributed to the overall lack of interest, awarness, and ultimately empathy for military families.
Ian, my love, love of my life,
I turned on the news, only to find out the 101st has suffered a grenade attack, and ten of you are injured, a couple, seriously. I'm still shaking. Please be okay. You simply have to be okay. You just have to. I love you so much, Ian. So much I can't imagine a day without you in the world. Not an hour, not a second. Just be okay. That's all I can think, all I can say, the only thing in my head. Just be okay. I'm trying not to freak out before I know more, but I can't help it...
The above is an excerpt from a letter included in the piece I was asked to write for AOL (please read the whole piece, short and sweet, here). And that's nothing. That's one day in the life of one person (me). As war (and deaths and injuries go on (and on and on and on)), families/friends/lovers continue to try to prepare for the worst while simultaneously trying to maintain a "normal" existence for themselves and, if they have them, their children.
Learn more! Get to know them!
They aren't different from you. They're not a special, tight-knit "Army Wives" community somehow separate from the rest of the country. They're you. They're just you hoping every single day that the person they love most in the world doesn't die or lose an arm/leg/mind today.
(To read articles from the military-family perspective and interviews with military family members discussing everything from their deployment experiences to their perceptions of the media, visit LIFT ["Like" it for TIME].
Causes Kristen Tsetsi Supports
Planned Parenthood, SPCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America