Some of my coworkers jokingly call me House-of-Ha because they think I’m full of one-liners and like to stop by my office for a quick pick-me-up (let’s never mind how well it rhymes with Hasselhoff, shall we?). But lately I’ve been more House-of-Pain than House-of-Ha.
While I am generally so very optimistic, lately I’ve been struggling to rustle up some happy hope. I’ve heard that the region in which my friends/family live in Japan is relatively stable, so that’s good, but then more bad news hit this week.
(above: a photo I snapped last August when several soldiers from my Chris’ unit gathered for J’s funeral and memorial services)
You all know my husband, Chris, is a veteran (honorably discharged from the U.S. Army Reserves following a 2006-2007 tour in Iraq).
On Monday evening, we had dinner at the home of M, one of Chris’ best friends (a Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who sustained major brain trauma and spinal injuries). During dinner, we got a call that one of their comrades currently serving in Afghanistan, L, had been shot twice earlier that day and possibly hit with an IED.
How this works: soldiers who usually have regular internet (via their own personal laptops) and phone access get completely cut off while officials try to contact the injured soldier’s family. It’s mostly a good thing—no one should ever find out her husband was injured in war from a Facebook post—but it’s also difficult because the ban on communication can last much longer than the contact period.
As of right now, we know L has been sent to Germany and is in serious condition with two gunshot wounds. However, Chris hasn’t been able to contact anyone else in the company and he’s worried about their morale. He understands the debilitating guilt that is felt by those who are spared.
The pain is mounting for all of the guys in Chris’ former unit—especially ones like M (who is completely disabled from his injuries and suffers from acute physical pain). You see, this group of reservists just lost a fellow soldier, J, who suffered from severe PTSD just eight months ago to suicide. These soldiers have rallied to support J’s widow and the baby girl she gave birth to just weeks after his death.
These guys are now rallying around L’s girlfriend and his family. But they were already stretched thin trying to deal with their own war-related issues/injuries and providing emotional and sometimes other types of support to others (like J’s widow, mother and sisters, and the families of other soldiers in their unit who were killed in action).
(above: A few weeks after J’s passing in August 2010, his widow looks on while my Chris inspects the great Salt Lake)
I won’t get all political here and would appreciate that the comment section of this post remain war-politics free (read: I will delete what I deem inappropriate, disrespectful or rude).
Please remember that these are our peers—spouses, siblings, friends, neighbors—and they are still fighting, even though you may not see the same frequency of news coverage today that you did a over the past few years.
I remember a junior high teacher once saying, “Everyone knows someone touched by cancer.” Well, everyone knows someone, if not lots of someones, touched by war. We truly are a generation scarred—a fact that will become more and more apparent with time.
I implore you to please PLEASE remember that the battle isn’t over once these young men and women return. For some, it’s only just begun.