Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How costly is the Fourth of July?

What does the Fourth of July really mean to you? What's the first thing that comes to mind...honestly? In the last ten years I am sure that for most of us this meaning has changed quiet often. Perhaps gotten stronger, deeper and rooted with a different purpose or maybe become less clear filled with questions, doubts, uncertainty.

illustration by Tallahasseescene.com 

I am sharing this with you today because I think it's important. Recently I sat down with my thoughts and took another look at this chapter in my life. Personal shares to me are only relevant when we learn or it can help others, exploitation is not my goal.

When I was ten years old my mother remarried, it was a major adjustment for numerous reasons. One of those reasons was he was a military man, USMC. He was stationed out in California and my mom had met him during one of his leaves. They started long distance dating and I guess after some time they felt serious enough that on his next leave he came to meet me and the family. I didn't like him from the start. That set the tone for the years to come but I won't get off topic.

He came over for dinner with this big Cowboy hat, looked like one of those guys in the cigarette commercial. His speech was very stern, his mannerisms very calculated like. It was very different from what our daily life had consisted of. Shortly after that they wed, he returned to California to finish his service he had about another year to go and we stayed in New York. When he would come "home" it felt like my life was being taken over.

I remember a lot of rules, loud voice and a face that always was serious. I remember guns being locked in a box in a closet and packs of beer being bought more often then just on a weekend when friends were coming over. I remember a lot of curse words and a thought process that I had never been exposed to. I saw how his training and military life effected his behavior daily. It was never "off" he was always on "soldier" mode. This was of course before our lives were directly affected in so many ways with recent wars but it was still very telling of what I see today.

I bring this up because his behavior never lightened up, it only got worse when he came home full time then began to work as a Correction's Officer then finally a NYC Police Officer before he retired. My years with him were trying I can only imagine what it truly did to his wife, my mother. I see today some of those results and it saddens me. He really put our family through a mentally exhausting roller coaster for many years. Divorce was the outcome seventeen years later, but the damage had already been done. When I watch some of these military movies I can relate to some of the drama playing out in the homes for sure.

I am not bashing Military life, those that choose to serve, are forced to serve and the in between reasons but I do know what Military life did to me and my family. Yes some feel honored, some feel duty blah blah but what about the after affects? Who is stopping to think about that? Who cares at what cost?

illustration by landeeseelandedo.com

In recent years we have witnessed numerous stories about the after math of serving in our Military. Stories of Soldiers coming home only to commit horrible crimes, feel lost in society, abusive behavior, difficulty in adjusting and this list can go on. I personally have witnessed wonderful, amazing, sweet people leave and angry, mean, hostile, on the edge, defensive people return back.
I ask myself, "were did my friend go"? What on earth can I do? I sat with another friend the other day and as we were in discussion I had the thought...these men and women are trained to kill but never trained to shut it off.

They go away to boot camp to prepare for life as a Soldier but where are we sending them to prepare to come home and be a father, a husband, a son, a daughter, a friend? What is the process they are going through as they are being released from duty? How can we really be thinking that after witnessing things we at home can only imagine this man or woman is ready for a house with running kids, loud neighbors, PTA meetings or nights cuddling up with their partners? After living in uncertainty moment to moment how can we expect them to come home and fix the sink, pay bills, walk the dog?

I am not saying that perhaps there are certain things being done as I speak but I just feel they haven't been and aren't enough. These men and women watch people die or have killed someone themselves. Maybe not all but many have seen horrible things, I had several friends back in H.S. join the service to pay for college but I never heard the stories I am hearing today when they came home on leave.
I have a friend that every time something drops or he hears a loud bang his whole body shacks.

And let's say that many of our Soldiers don't see such horrors, don't get sent to dangerous places that doesn't mean that they need any less decompression time than the other guy. Our loved ones are living a different life away from us. We shouldn't expect them to just blend in with us once they are back. We shouldn't expect them to pick up where they left off.

illustration by howtonestforless.com

People who are trained to be aggressive need to also be taught how to shut it off. They need programs, services, communities, their loved ones and their government to all pitch in and lend a hand. Just like in some places you are required to go to counseling before you get married, you should go to counseling before you come home.

As the Fourth of July draws near I am thinking of how grateful I am to have people who risk their lives to protect me. Who willingly leave their families behind because they believe in a cause. Who I will never be able to thank enough but with this post I hope to shed some light and get people talking.  Who I respect and pray for. I pray that just like you take care of us, we can take care of you.

Veterans...
    The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation. 
 ~President George Washington

What do you think? Am I out of line for thinking this way? Did someone come to mind as you read this post? Can you share your experience? Let's start talking maybe we can help someone in this situation. I included links for added info.

cnn.com


washingtonpost.com

Here are links to sites that offer Veterans and their families help

veteranscrisisline.net

greenvilleonline.com

woundedwarriorhomes.org

Always stress free xo.

4 comments:

  1. Touching post Mari. I agree that not enough is being done either in the private sector or by the government these men and women serve to help them assimilate into “normal” (i.e. non-soldier) life.
    I have 5 uncles all of whom were in the military and all of them were affected in 1 way or another, some more subtle than others. Right now, because there’s not enough being done to help veterans as they return home, I feel like families can help themselves by getting counseling together. The problem is that it’s not always accessible (health care issues, funding, etc.).
    Hopefully we will "get there" soon, because if the last 16 years are any indication things will certainly not slow down anytime soon.

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    Replies
    1. Nikki, thanks for visit and comments. I agree funding is an issue that would probably be another obstacle. Let's be hopeful we see some changes start soon :)

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  2. As always your Mari your post continue to stimulate some very interesting and honest conversation. I couldn't agree with you more especially with so many incidents post duty. Great piece.

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  3. Thanks John, starting a conversation that's what it's all about right?.

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