7.16.2009 | Thursday

The life and times of a career Army wife,…

category: Army Life, Family Stuff

reading time: 5 minutes

The other night, I was watching the local news and there was a story about our post, Fort Drum, on the news.  10th Mountain Division has 4 brigades.  Only 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Brigades are here, and 4th Brigade at Fort Polk, which is in Louisiana.  4th Brigade is in Iraq right now (I think) and 3rd Brigade (Corey’s brigade) is in Afghanistan.  That is the backstory.  Originally, 2nd Brigade was due to go to Afghanistan, to replace 3rd Brigade.  However, things change awhile ago and 2nd Brigade is now slated to leave for Iraq in October and November.  Now, apparently 1st Brigade is also going to Iraq, deploying in January 2010.  Currently, 10th Mountain Division has about 4,800 soldiers deployed to Iraq with 4th Brigade and 3,700 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Brigade.  This extra brigade going to Iraq will up the numberof soldiers in Iraq from the division to about 7,000, almost twice the number of soldiers in Afghanistan.

I guess my question is why?  I am sure there is a reason, but I would love to know what it is.  Instead of pulling out of Iraq, the numbers are going up.  Of course, that is just our division, so maybe other units are pulling out and the numbers are decreasing and it just isn’t visible, based on deployments from our division.  The other part I wonder about is why the extra brigade is going to Iraq instead of Afghanistan.  3 out of 4 brigades rotate with Iraq, leaving only 3rd to rotate with Afghanistan.  That means a lot more time BTG for those brigades than 3rd Brigade gets.  And stuff has really stepped up in Afghanistan since they have been there this time.  It makes me wonder what having 2 brigades deploying to Iraq within just a few months is going to mean for the post and for 3rd Brigade.  That means that there will be no real force here for a little while, since usually there is at least one brigade in garrison at any given time.  1st Brigade is due to leave at the same time 3rd Brigade is due to come home.  So, yes, there will be a brigade here, but there is generally a span of a couple months before the brigade is fully back and functional in garrison.  I also wonder what it is going to do to the deployment itself, and if it will mean that 3rd Brigade will get extended over there, just like last time.  There is also BTG time; and I wonder if this will further shorten 3rd Brigades time BTG before deploying yet again.  But, again, I am sure there is a legitimate reason, but I just wish I knew what it was!

Sometimes I think we live our lives in the moment so much more than we tend to realize.  We get so swept up in the daily pressures and activities that we sometimes we don’t see the bigger pictures of our lives.  What is abnormal by any other standards becomes normal to us.  And that is the root of the life of a typical career Army family.  What is normal to us, just isn’t normal to the rest of the world.  Sometimes it hits me just how different that life is.  On some level, I know how much time we spend apart as a family, but I guess I am so used to it that I don’t really see it most of the time.  I don’t always realize how different that is to people outside the military lifestyle.

The life of an Army family has changed so much since 9-11.  Before then, when I was still a soldier, there were deployments, but they were much shorter.  The conflicts themselves were far more short-lived.  I have been in and around the Army since 1988 and Iraq and Afghanistan have been the longest running conflicts since then.  I was still dating Corey when 9-11 hit, having been together just 5 months at that point.  We married 7 months later, so almost our entire relationship has been post 9-11.  And 9-11 definately changed family life for military families.  Add to that the mission in Iraq, and it means there are far longer deployments and they come along far more frequently.  Even in the times that soldiers are BTG, there are still schools and training, and Army requirements to fulfill, which frequently means more time away from family.

In the 8 years we have been together, 7 of those married, Corey and I have been apart far more than we have been together.  Never did I realize when we got married that I would spend SO much more time as a single mother than together with him.  But, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that you have to find a way to accept things as they are and to live with it.  Fighting the inevitable just makes you miserable and it doesn’t change a damn thing.  There is a reason that there is a saying about wives in the Army,… that the Army is his wife and I am just his mistress.  The Army does come first, and the quicker you accept it, the happier you are. 

Over the years, I have definately gotten judged about my attitude as an Army wife.  I have been told that I am cold, a bitch, that I don’t really care about my husband, all of it.  But it isn’t about being cold or a bitch, or not caring about my husband.  It is about accepting the life and living with it.  If I got upset every time he missed a birthday or an anniversary, or even just dinner, I would be miserable all the time.  Who wants to live their life like that?  I see a lot of wives turn their anger with the life to the Army itself, and I don’t understand that either.  It isn’t the Army that keeps us apart;  it is the state of the world itself that does that.  The Army gives us so much that a lot of people just don’t want to see.  We have a roof over our head and food on our plates.  We have medical coverage that frequently far exceeds that which we could get as civilians.  We have a steady paycheck coming in and job security.  Especially in these economic times, those things are incredibly important and a blessing that many losing their jobs and homes just don’t have right now.  Whatever they take away, they give back in other ways.

Michael Jackson

1. Was Michael Jackson’s death a surprise to you? Why/why not?
Not really, although sad.  But he hasn’t looked or acted healthy in YEARS.

2. Are you/were you a Michael Jackson fan? Why/why not? If you are/were, when did you start listening to his music? If you quit, why did you quit? If you never liked him in the first place, is there a reason?
I was when I was a teenager.  I think I stopped not so much because of all of his personal issues, but just because my tastes in music changed.

3. Do you think any *good* came from Michael Jackson’s death? If so, what? If not, why not?
It would be nice if it put some pressure on celebrity doctors to maintain their integrity when dealing with a patient, celebrity or not.



Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?
I do keep them all together.  That way I don’t lose track of what I still have to read!

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