Open Mike

Some Soldiers called home almost every day.  What if they didn’t call home one day?  Does the spouse start thinking that something bad happened?

Some Soldiers called home before every mission.   If the Soldier doesn’t call after the mission, does the spouse worry?

I was not one of these Soldiers.  Aside from all the OPSEC issues associated with this, as a deployed Soldier I wanted to do everything I could to keep my wife from worrying about me or being upset.

After we got to Baghdad, Big Poppa and I wouldn’t tell our wives we were going outside the wire with our Soldiers.  It was just as easy to let our wives assume that we were Fobbits with some safe office job and not have them worry.

Does it mean that I love my wife any less, because I don’t call home as often as they do?

Why would they feel the need to tell them everything that was going on?  Why would someone call their spouse right away to tell them that we were being mortared?  Or post it on their facebook status?   This makes absolutely no friggin sense to me.  Do you expect your spouse to be happy that you were mortared?

While I am sure that some Soldiers may actually be trying to impress people.   Others may be struggling to relieve stress and fear by speaking to people they love and trust.    But it still doesn’t make any sense to me.    They need to focus on more than their own temporary sense of relief, and understand the impact that it has on the person they are talking to, and then on the next spouse that your spouse talks to, and the next spouse after that, and on and on.

My truck was hit by an IED one night, and my wife had already found out about it before I woke up in the morning.   One of my buddies stopped by my cot on his way back from the phones and told me that I should call home because my wife was worried.  She has also emailed me in case that I read my email before I called home.

“I love you so much!  I heard what happened, but I’m sure that I don’t know all of it.  I don’t like hearing that kind of stuff through the grapevine.  Are you OK, baby?  Do you get to come home now??   I love you and you have to come home to us.  I’m worried for you.  I’m praying for you everyday.  I love you and I wish that I could hold you.  Call me when you can.  I know you are busy, but I just want to hear your voice.  I love you and I miss you!!”

Not that I don’t appreciate sweet words from my wife, but this is something that I would hope to avoid.   When I felt like even mentioning that something was going on, I would only say that I had been having a “bad day but I was OK.”  This could have meant anything from us getting hit, to First Sergeant riding my ass that day, to me having explosive diarrhea  all day.

Am I being overly judgmental again, or did anyone else have an issue with this?   Would a spouse really rather know or not know?

Up until recently you didn’t have such direct access to your loved ones.   You might be able to call home every once in awhile, but mostly you relied on writing letters through the mail.   I truly wonder if that was a burden or a blessing.  It certainly hasn’t improved divorce rates.   I would guess that about 50% of the Soldiers that deployed with us did not return to the relationship that they were in when we left.

What opinions do the veterans of Vietnam, Saudi, Panama, Somalia, etc… have on this?   Direct access to communicate back and forth from the combat zone…Burden or Blessing?  How do the spouses of our preceding veterans feel about this?

What about the impact of having embedded and immediate news coverage?

By Bryan H. Reed, Army Veteran OIF 07-09


3 responses to “Open Mike

  • S Last

    As a spouse who has been home with 3 small children for 2 deployments to Iraq I like hearing a little information but not the whole enchilada. I did not feel the need to hear from my husband everyday. I know that when you are in a war zone you compartmentalize your emotions and family is not always the first thing you are thinking about. That is understandable to me and I dealt with that. I did want to hear from my husband more frequently and for longer periods than a 5 minute phone call but that was not reality for us.

    Thanks for this blog, I have found it so helpful. I have a deeper understanding of my husbands experiences at war and now his PTSD issues that we have been facing since 2005.

  • Taylor

    Here’s my two since worth…I can read my boyfriend like a book. When he’s not talking, its bad. The further down the “foxhole” the goes the bad-er it is. Now, that being said, I keep up with the news…I’m a give me the worse case scenerio kinda person. I would rather hear it first had, than get blind sided by someone at work asking me. So while I won’t watch the news, I do READ the news and get txt alerts. I also am very aware that the media never gets it exactly right. Keeping up with the news, is my way of staying on top of being suprised. If I hear things 2nd hand, I am very aware that they have been exagerated or minimized. So I listen, but do not over concern myself. Sometimes the waiting is terrible, I hate the waiting…the not knowing…for a give me the facts straight up person thats the hard part. Because I know me, whatever it is good or bad, we will just deal with it and keep moving…..but not know thats the hard part for me. Its during those times I realize that I am Fully Relying on God….that good or bad whatever the news HE will be there for me. So I pray, I talke to my Abba Father, my Papa God…and He carries me through those rough times. Then I get to talk to my boyfriend. Its always better or worse news and somehow never what I expected or anticipated. I always know though, even when my boyfriends not talking I know. The amount he talks (or the lack of talking) is a direct ratio and relationship to whatever the “bad” is. I read everything I can get my hands on, including about 15 blogs I follow and every 1st person account book I can get a hold of to better gain persepective. Somehow I was one of “those” Americans. I was just out of college when 9/11 happened and after 9/11 I was able to so sumerge my life in daily living that I didn’t cope or deal with the fact that we are at war. I love America, ask me and I’ll say I support our troops…but it wasn’t until I started dating my boyfriend that I realized how much I was sumerged in the general attitude of indifference that many/ most American are caught it. I realized I couldn’t date my “GI Joe” and be complacient or indifferent. My friends told my I was scaring myself silly, I told them I was getting a reality check. If I couldn’t figure it out now I didn’t have any business getting in a long term relationship with a GI Joe. How I ended up with a GI Joe is beyond me, never what I would have expected or aniticpated, but I have no regrets about being here. Anyway, that’s my two cents worth.

  • allison8607

    During Dan’s first deployment I watched CNN and other news outlets all the time. I was always getting on the web and checking the latest info on the DOD. I was paranoid. Probably didn’t help that this whole “military relationship” was brand new and Dan did have a habit of going “missing” for a few weeks at a time. I would always be so glad to hear his voice when he called, but mad he hadn’t said something to let me in that he wouldn’t be around for a while. His second deployment was much easier on the communication front, despite it being a longer deployment. I didn’t worry myself with the latest news on the tv, I didn’t let other people “work me up” because of some incident that had happened somewhere over there. I talked to Dan when he called or when he was online. I stopped turning my computer volume up so that I would hear if he got online. The 2nd deployment was also much harder on him and he didn’t want to talk much. Through both deployments I was in college, and half of the 2nd I was working my first “big girl job” so I would just babble on and on about school, friends, gossip and my first job. I know he wasn’t really paying attention, but he always preferred to hear about me. There were times I bugged him to hear more about him and what was going on, but I also understand the situation…many-a-time I heard random clicks and buzzes…we knew what was up.

    Both times he was gone, we were lucky, to say the least, that in the situation he was in he was allowed some extra perks that most people didn’t have. We both made the most of the time we could talk… never left skype, IM, or on the phone being mad at each other or upset. I know he didn’t tell me everything, especially because he couldn’t, but he always didn’t keep me in the dark. I prefer to “know” what is going on. Maybe not all of it, but the general gist of what happened. He still hasn’t told me everything…and I’m okay with that.

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