color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: 'Sup? Of Snow and Purple Hearts

Saturday, March 11, 2006

'Sup? Of Snow and Purple Hearts

'Sup? (That's short for "what's up?")

We have personally been very busy with my aged mother-in-law, a situation that I fear will not be resolved easily. She is hospitalized once again, the third hospitalization since the first of the year and her sixth in the last year. The balance of her time since the New Year has been spent in skilled nursing facilities first in Illinois and then in Arizona trying to regain her strength and some mobility. Nothing horribly wrong, just a host and series of ailments that come with age, any one of which would be bad, but together a real strain. Just dealing day to day.
Got some time today as we are being significantly snowed upon for the first time this year. Thank you, Lord! When you live in a pine forest and the fire danger is EXTREME three months before the "fire season" you'll take all the "wet" you can get!! And we could get a foot of it WHOOHOO! And it sure is gorgeous, as well!

As for Our Guys? Well, they had a few weeks back at Fort Benning just decompressing and enjoying all that Hooters and America has to offer. They did a lot of sleeping (#1 thing they tell me!), some drinking, more eating (pork chops, ribs, ham...), going to movies (for the first few times they weren't all that comfortable sitting deep in the theater and wanted to be near the doors!), buying vehicles, buying electronics and generally spending their hard-earned money. I am certain the merchants of Columbus, Georgia are ecstatic to have the 3ID home! They also attended mandatory sessions on re-integrating to life in a first world country and how to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Then they all got the month of February off to do NOTHING but relax and shake off the hellacious year of their deployment. They traveled to be with their families and friends. They slept late, ate some more, drank some more and enjoyed Freedom. They're all back on base now. Some of Noah's unit have new orders and are preparing to PCS (permanent change [of duty] station). So far, Our Guys are all staying put in the infantry unit. Noah's friend Dave who was wounded with Noah has gotten recruiting duty and judging by the response, he didn't put in for it, so he and his wife will be moving soon. Their new location is in a university town in the country's heartland, so it shouldn't be too bad, he says. Noah's up for a few special schools, but I don't want to jinx it until he hears for sure.

I have been following the post-deployment stories of the wives, mothers and girlfriends on a private 3ID website and it seems the number one topic of discussion almost across the board is dealing with some very short-tempered soldiers. We've been told that restlessness, impulsiveness and anger are normal reactions to re-integration and judging by the number of comments about it, the 3ID guys have it in spades. I had a hard enough time dealing with the short-tempered thing with Noah since he's been home -- and that was just on the phone. I'm particularly glad he wasn't living here then. Frankly, I think any of those soldiers that have those big anger problems ought to live on base and let the Army and other soldiers deal with it. The wives, girlfriends and mothers don't deserve to be overwhelmed with it. And there aren't a whole lot of these guys stepping up and saying they need a little help.and anger is only one part of all this -- there's compulsive behaviors, nightmares, depression... major anxiety... Somehow there is little consolation knowing that my son's not the only one.

The next topic getting lots of attention is the two upcoming Homecoming Ceremonies: one at Fort Benning and one at Fort Stewart. The Fort Benning celebration is March 24 at York Field, from 2 p.m. until dark and includes an appearance by
Diamond Rio. I would love to be there to hear them sing (Here in America) "In God We Still Trust" (click to listen).

There will be loads of things for the kids like a petting zoo, those inflatable jumping areas, a carnival and pony rides. Local car dealers have donated a truck and a car to be given away. Of course, food and drink will be in excess.

The Fort Stewart Welcome home is from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Donovan Field on March 25 and includes a performance by Jeff Foxworthy and Chely Wright.

Rumor has it that a BIG name country singer that has been featured on my sight in a post or two might make an appearance, but I can't seem to get anyone to even unofficially confirm it. It would make sense to me since he is currently on tour in that area, this performer traveled to Baghdad to entertain the 3ID (part of the performance was broadcast during a music awards show) and I can't imagine how he'd want to miss the big welcome home party for these AMERICAN SOLDIERS. I know the 3ID soldiers and families would be overwhelmed.

I'm not currently planning to attend either of these celebrations although I would dearly love to see all Our Guys, as well as Noah since I haven't seen him since last September when he got back from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and his 21st birthday is just beyond that weekend. I'd also really love to meet some of the 3ID wives and parents I've been corresponding with this past year. I'd especially love to meet the widow and children of the first soldier from the battalion killed in Iraq with whom I have corresponded and of whom I've become extremely fond.

We had planned to go because we assumed that we would get to see Noah receive his Purple Heart and Our Guys receive other medals and awards that they had earned while they fought terrorists in Iraq. However, we have been told that the medal ceremony will not be at the same time as the celebration. In fact, no medal ceremony has yet been scheduled. If it has, they haven't told the soldiers.

It would make sense to have the ceremony and celebration at the same time, but our budget can't handle two trips to Georgia (the only down side to retirement is the "fixed income"), the trip to the
Milbloggers Conference in April and our oldest son's wedding this summer. If I have to pick a trip to visit or a trip to see our son and Our Guys officially receive their medals, it will have to be for the medals. But all I can say is that since many units had their medal ceremonies before their units went on block leave, and it has now been 8 weeks since these soldiers returned home and no medal ceremony has yet been held, this unit better get its act together soon. This is NOT the way to honor our soldiers and it's really starting to annoy the hell out of me. Having a mail clerk hand a brown paper box to a soldier and say, "Oh, this got misplaced," and opening it to find your Purple Heart just doesn't cut it for me. I am desperately proud of our son and these soldiers and I know everyone else is, as well. They deserve a medal ceremony with someone important pinning those medals and lots of people clapping and cheering and they deserve for it to be well publicized with plenty of notice so that family and friends can attend. Grrrr.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.


At 3/11/2006 6:29 PM , Blogger Stacy said...

You are so right SSM. Those soldiers deserve much better treatment than just handing the purple heart to them. Those soldiers are what has made our country what it is today.

Hope you get lots of snow, which is well needed it seems.

Please keep us posted about MIL.

At 3/11/2006 7:14 PM , Blogger StoicMom said...

Amen, sister. I just kills me how some units are run so efficiently and some are run so crappy. I guess it's the same way in any job, but I still hate it. They deserve, at least, a decent medal ceremony.

At 3/12/2006 5:11 AM , Blogger BetsyB. said...

Good to hear that the guys are doing all the normal things after their deployment. My son Michael has been home for 3 months now and he is still adjusting to civilian life. He will be forever changed after a year in Iraq, I'm just praying that it will be a positive thing and not a negative thing in his life.
You are so right about those soldiers getting their medals at a special ceremony. They deserve that AND SO MUCH MORE...

At 3/12/2006 10:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back. Missed you. Prayers for your mother-in-law. Enjoy being snowed in, it doesn't happen too often.

At 3/12/2006 6:16 PM , Blogger barb pfister said...

I totally agree with you, when our daughter received her purple heart she was in country and we didn't get to celebrate with her and the rest of her unit. I hope you get to go see your son get his medals.


At 3/12/2006 6:56 PM , Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Glad to see you back. enjoy the snow, and hope that mother in law gets better soon.

At 3/14/2006 9:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear they are doing the "normal" things now that they are home.
Keep a close eye for long term problems in the next year or 2.

My, at one time, best friend has closed himself up in his bedroom, watching TV and has giving up on life. It is heartbreaking to see, once such strong men give up.

We don't do enough for our heroes in this country.

And quite frankly I am sick of it. I am usually a huge supporter of this Country, this War, but the long term effects may not be worth it. Not as long as the VA continues to consider our warriors desposable soldiers.

At 3/15/2006 2:50 PM , Blogger Rachelle Jones said...


Sorry to here about the Mom, always hard to have one in frail health and carry on with life as USUAL.

If there is anything ya need, a place to stay, if you have to drive cross country so be it. You know how to contact me, the house is small, but the light is always on. I can gaurentee you at least 8 hours sleep and a full tummy.

At 3/18/2006 10:32 AM , Blogger devildog6771 said...

I'm sorry about the problems you have right now. You certainly deserve a break. Glad Noah is doing well. I totally agree about a Medal ceremony.


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