All For Nothing?

Robert Flournoy

Copyright 2023 by Robert Flournoy   

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Tomorrow, Friday, my husband returns from Afghanistan. He has been gone for a year. We have been through this twice before. Iraq both times. He is an Army reserve NCO, with a mission critical specialization, so his deployments have been relentlessly predictable. In the process, he has lost his civilian job, missed critical time raising his children, and almost our home, since the army pays him so much less than the management job he had before 9/11. Not to mention the dead friends. He has never complained, although the stress of his tours have made him old before my eyes. His first deployment was in 2003. He turned twenty-five, the day he entered Iraq. I have worked two jobs during his various absences, struggling to keep the house, and give our three children some stability. We are not a regular military family, so do not live close to a base, with its' support, or the comfort of other families who are experiencing the same ordeals that we have. Like much of the military serving in combat, my husband is a reservist. It has been lonely, and hard. A nightmare every single night that I will lose him.

I hear news people refer to the fact that our country has been at war for ten years. It hasn't. The volunteer military, and their families have been at war. Not the country. They have been watching American Idol. Most are oblivious to the fact that 960 Americans have died in Iraq, and Afghanistan in the last seventeen months. 50 last month alone. Most are unaware of the plights, like mine, of a hundred thousand families who struggle to make it, waiting for their husbands, and mothers to return, already dreading the well known fear of yet another call up. They put flags on their porches, and yellow ribbons on their bumpers, but do not offer their own sons, and daughters to serve. The burning towers are a vague memory.

This military has been called the finest in our history. I am sure that is true. But, it is tired, and almost broken, just like the families that wait. So, to all of the neighbors, and town folk who came by our house the last two times my husband returned, bearing food, smiles, and hearty welcome homes, please do not come this time. My husband thinks that you have been there for his wife, and children the entire times that he has been gone. You haven't. He may even think that your children also are serving our country. They aren't. I am not bitter, or angry, just tired, and I want him to myself this time. It will be his last. I have earned at least this.

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