By Boot Girl Myra with guest blogger John Vanatten
In a recent chat during our weekly radio show on toginet.com, one of our friends up in the Chicago area joined in on the conversation. We talked about the affect military service has on the families left behind and he agreed to let me publish his observations as they are spot-on.
Young men and women stand at a cross road in life when they make a decision to voluntarily raise their right hand and take the Oath of Enlistment. They promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, to Obey the Officers appointed over them, and begin a forever life changing adventure.
They go off to Basic Training, Boot Camp, whatever their selected branch calls the first level of school. While there, the cadre indoctrinates them into the proud and honorable path they have chosen, they bond with their new brothers and sisters in arms. Some volunteer further, Airborne School, Ranger School, BUDS, rising up to greater challenges. They become tighter with their peers and leaders than they’ve ever been with their family and friends back on the block.
As soldiers, we come to know that we will go where others fear to go and do what others have failed to do. As all of this grows, our families, mothers, fathers, sister, brother, husband, wife sit home and wonder. Our loved ones haven’t been indoctrinated, they haven’t bonded with fellow warriors, they are still the same loving, innocent earthlings that we left behind.
When we’re down range with our Unit we lean on each other, we laugh, cry, joke, and console each other. It’s hard for us to reach out to our families at home, it may break the concentration needed to survive, we may not want to hear about the note on the farm being late or how the bank called about the truck payment. Not because we don’t care, but we can’t change it from a forgotten Fire Base outside of Kabul.
At home, our families watch us on the news, hear about us on the radio, but haven’t been trained to understand what we’re doing. No one carried them through the ranks as they developed. Terms like esprit de corp, selfless service, and Duty, Honor, Country are simply flamboyant phrases, not the watch words and call to arms that they are to their loved one overseas. When I returned the pain I saw in my ma’s eyes was something I pray I never have to see again. The years of waiting, of praying that the chaplain wouldn’t one day ring the bell out front, took its toll on her; even though I come from a warrior family.
Today, gratefully, my service time has ended, I give back by working with young returning warriors, offering what I can to families left behind while their loved ones do what our Nation asks of them.
Editors Note: John has spent the last few weeks gathering 40+ friends to join him at the Boot Campaign’s Boot Bash, in Chicago on Oct. 21 at Joes Bar on Weed Street featuring Randy Wells and Stoney LaRue. If you are in the area, stop by and thank a soldier!