From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fighting Depression and Other Demons

My husband has been "in-country"  for three weeks now, but I still haven't gotten to see him.  Leaving the Army after 30 years of service is even more complicated a process than entering the Army it seems.  I can't leave the responsibilities of the ranch to go to Georgia to be with him, and it feels as though I've never needed him more.  There are so many challenges, I couldn't hope to name them all, when a loved one is deployed.  You have to experience it to fully appreciate what it means to a family.   Just being without my husband has been the greatest struggle of my life, and been the background for each day I have lived in his absence.  Currently the greatest challenge is health issues, the exact nature of which has yet to be determined, they are looming and awaiting tests for an exact diagnosis.  I find myself  after two years of my husband being deployed, at the end of my personal resources, and the one in need.  I am not used to the role of being the one in need, in life my role has always been the one of ministering  to others.  As in most reversals of roles that people go through, it is disconcerting, at the least, and in moments when just a "mite" of  additional stress is added, completely overwhelming.  I feel as though I am on the very edge of a deep cavern at times.  I told my husband I know what Soldiers who experience PTSD feel like inside sometimes, even though I have never been to war.  Holding within mself the fear of the one I love more than life itself being wounded or dying in a war zone, has been for me the most difficult place I have ever been, and I have been some tough places.

Watching the show Army Wives last night, (I have only lately began watching the show,) I thought how good it was for the country to have the opportunity to see just a pale glimpse of what service to this country really entails.  Far more revealing is the show on the same channel, "Coming Home."  Real families and service members share their home comings as their loved ones return from long absences to foreign countries.  They have selflessly been standing against those persons who have determined to destroy the way of life that our own country, and many others countries and peoples of the world wish to live in.   These individuals explicitly do not believe in the right to personal freedom for any person.  

As freedoms have come to the two countries where the fight has been concentrated, and so much has been given, people in the surrounding countries have seen the possibility that they too can have the way of life these men and women who are serving represent.  As the Middle East comes alive with the cries of people demanding the personal freedom and opportunity to shape their own destiny, more of our sons and daughters will be called, and the call will be answered.  

Training, information, and resources will be given to both the individual volunteering to serve our country, and to those family members, who in wisdom, will tap what the Army or other branch of service will offer them as well.  Then these families will begin a journey, or as it may be, many journeys down the road of deployment.  In volunteering, and pledging to give up their lives, if that is the cost, the price of freedom will continue to extracted from those serving, and those who love them, for freedom continues to demand this cost.  The rest of the citizens of this country, and many citizens of other countries, will reap the benefits of the sacrifices of those who in the greatest act of valor and honor an individual can perform, pledge their lives to serve in the United States Military.  To those fools who believe that every enemy can be tamed by diplomacy, fairness, aide, and such, I make no argument.  Any person who looks at humankind and believes that anything short of God's return will end conflict requiring this kind of sacrifice, does not possess the intelligence or reasoning to process reality.  However,  the protection of their right to protest  military engagement of the enemies of our country, will continue to be protected by those who serve.   Families, for that is where every person who serves comes from, will continue to endure and in some cases, even be empowered by the sacrifices required of them.  Other families will dissolve under the weight of service.  

Just as Soldiers come from families, when their service is done, they will return to families.  Some will come home with no apparent physical changes to their bodies, and some of those will later develop debilitating illness, having suffered exposure to a toxin somewhere in service to our country.   Some will come home changed by wounds that eventually will heal physically without changing the course of their lives.  Of course some will come home having suffered wounds that  forever change them  physically and they will have to rebuild their lives.  Some will come home in coffins, having given their last true measure of devotion.  None will come home without being profoundly changed forever within their hearts and minds by "the rockets red glare, and the bombs bursting in air."  Some will be haunted and oppressed by experiences and loses too extensive for expression by any human language.  

I feel a personal obligation to each service member, and to their families, and I will spend the rest of my life endeavoring to repay my obligation.  Both my husband and I have made the commitment to use our own blessings and personal resources to support all those we can, in any way we can, in the light of the knowledge that only as brave men and women continue to serve, will our nation and those values which we hold sacred continue to stand.     

There is now within me a clear distinction which was not there at the beginning of my own period of sacrifice.  I have come to the knowledge that within the numbers of those who serve, there are as one would expect within any given number of people, those without honor.  There are those who serve purely for personal gain.  Since military service does not by comparison to civilian service, pay as well, or offer as much opportunity, those who serve for their own gain have a single identifying characteristic, they desire power.  As I watch men and women serve, there is a far greater fear than what the enemy can do to a Soldier for me.  I have personally observed, and been affected by, individuals within the ranks who blatantly disregard the rules governing military service.  Recently I have personally observed members of the units within the Army whose job it is to "police" the following of the rules, bend, and in some cases, break the rules themselves.  Nothing should be more troubling to those serving, and to the rest of us.  We must be able to trust in the integrity of the system.  It is time that the hiding of facts, the turning of the blind eye, and any other breaking of the rules be abandoned. 

There has been a long standing excuse by leadership that some things be covered in order to avoid tarnishing the image of the military.  I see through that completely.  Never is it in the best interest of the Army, or any other branch of service, to hide wrong doing.  It only creates an atmosphere of mistrust, enables wrong doing, and makes a joke of the pledges of honor made by those willing to serve.   It also creates a threat which is far greater than that of the enemy, against those who serve.  As the wife of a Soldier, I cannot understand lack of  response by the highest levels of authority when anyone makes accusation of wrong doing.  There should be a rush to investigate all reports which constitute abuse of power by those in charge.  The investigation should only be carried out by impartial and honorable men and women, I am not certain at this point that the Army should continue to administer it's own justice.

The Army spends huge amounts in researching what problems exist within the system, spends more coming up with plans, programs, rules and regulations to guard against "fraud, waste, and abuse."  All of those endeavors are only as legitimate as those administering them.  The system by which the Army investigates wrong doing is flawed.  An IG investigation is, and I am quoting the Army, "a tool of the commander."  What if the commander is the problem?

Not only is that piece of the process flawed, false accusations can be made either up or down a chain of command, without accountability by those making false statements.   Once accusations are made, there are  no time constraints for investigation or resolution.  I have personally observed, and in some cases, still hold the written evidence of disregard of UCMJ law.   It is completely deliberate and schemed disregard of those laws governing the military, and wrong doers are protected, and the innocent abused.  That disregard renders UCMJ worthless.

In the head quarters of the 95th Division of  the United States Army Reserves, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, an individual so corrupt and powerful that he could, kept a wall populated with pictures of individuals whose careers he bragged of destroying.  I am not the only person with knowledge of this, many know, it was done publicly.  While my husband was deployed I asked myself almost daily, why is it that this can happen?  Why are there numerous good persons, who detest the fact that this exists, knowledgeable concerning this, and possessed of moral courage to stand against it, and yet it prevails?  I have come to discover I can write this, post it publicly, and not worry about any consequences, or ever having anyone ask a single question concerning why the wife of colonel, with 30 years of service, who is an honor graduate of West Point and the Army War College, would dare to make such an accusation.  During my husband's deployment, my greatest fear and anxiety was the enemy within.  I am going to keep revealing things I know in an effort to affect change.  If military service to this country is going to continue requiring our sons and daughters, I believe all those in charge of even one Soldier, all those with the power to effect a single life, should be held accountable for every action.  Additionally, the higher the rank of the person, who allowed on their watch, the disregard of justice and rule, the more expedient should be their removal.  I believe the existing law governing agencies, and their leadership, should be closely examined for abuse of power and other inconsistencies.  

There are so many other pursuits I would rather engage in.  Every person is possessed of only a limited amount of energy and resources with which to meet each day.  I talk to so many who know of abuses, and it is such a huge and powerful avenue, with so many on it, that sometimes the oppressed never consider taking up the cry for justice.  That is a shame, but in order to facilitate sleeping at night, as my husband returns from deployment and retires after 30 years, I cannot take the more beckoning and peaceful road.  I long to.  Nevertheless,  war and battle weary, I will take up my own weapons once again, and continue to do all I can concerning wrong doing.  Every family who gives their sons and daughters should be able to expect this from someone, and if I am the only one to speak out against this, I will be one.