color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Hansel the Soldier and Gretel the Wife... and Hansel the Sailor

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hansel the Soldier and Gretel the Wife... and Hansel the Sailor

I've always found the story of Hansel & Gretel a little disturbing -- that a father should intentionally lose his children in the woods -- not once but twice! -- at the behest of the stepmother and that these "lovable" children stay in the cottage made of cake & chocolate for days while the wicked witch (who wanted to eat the children) was burned to death in the oven... and then they steal the witch's money, find the stepmother has died, the father is forgiven and they all live happily ever after. (What the hell was supposed to be the moral of that fairy tale??)

Be that as it may, I wanted to make the reader think mostly just of the children finding their way home after a harrowing and hellacious ordeal...

Noah signed out at Battalion at 10:43AM EDT this morning. He said leaving the Army was bittersweet (although the way he has been treated by some recently, more sweet than bitter.)

So now Noah and Melanie are on their way home... although neither of them has actually ever lived here before. No matter. It is where there are people that love them... and respect the sacrifices they have endured... and cherish the hope they represent. The guy who said, "Home is where the heart is" knew what he was talking about.

They have spent their last two weeks at Fort Benning packing, junking, sorting, cleaning... returning the house to the Army -- after a water pipe burst in the wall the night before the movers were to arrive -- and Army Housing didn't have a key to the water shutoff and the water company took 3 hours to arrive on a Sunday night!

Returned all the Army's stuff... he had to replace a bunch of missing gear... some that had been purloined... some loaned to soldiers at NTC and other times but who are now deployed and the gear with them or stored and inaccessible... some simply lost... and some that has been missing since he was evacuated from Iraq (like his first aid kit and kevlar cover probably still buried in the rubble of the rooms at Hotel)... but which the Army requires soldiers to return, replace or pay for... he figures in all he found or was given replacements for about $1,200 of equipment... much of which other soldiers had duplicates or which had been turned in to a kind of "lost and found"... Noah figures he spent $150 of his money replacing stuff he couldn't find...

Much of his time has been spent on paper work, paper work, more paper work... retrieved medical records... more paper work at Finance... two days in a row at Finance... I can't say that his NCO Sgt. H was supportive or helpful to Noah or to any of the other Wounded awaiting discharge... In fact, at times Sgt. H made it as hard as he possibly could for Noah (and the other young wounded soldiers.) It has been my experience -- from the first day Noah was wounded and up to and including the present day -- that there is a whole group of NCOs that blame wounded soldiers for being wounded and are not only unsupportive but outright obstructive to them... at least I have found that true in Noah's company... I had heard from people when we landed at Landstuhl almost two years ago that there was a sour attitude within Noah's Division about the wounded and found it hard to believe... but I am a believer now. Some of the NCOs not deployed from Ft. Benning with the brigade -- Sgt. H right at the top of that list -- suck. (Note to Sgt. H: do your job or get the hell out of the Army... you give it a bad name.)

Noah received his Good Conduct Medal more than a year after it was recommended and approved (but Sgt. H -- who apparently has more important things to do than his job and besides doesn't like having to deal with the wounded -- refused to submit the final paper work...)... to go with his Army Commendation Medal with "V" device... and that damn Purple one...

The trip has been mapped... the navigation device is on the dash... the car is packed with clothing and personal items... their household goods are in transit -- apparently to temporary storage in Colorado Springs -- awaiting the "ok to deliver" phone call. Noah is registered for college classes... he has an appointment with the Veterans' advisor at the college (who for some odd reason decided to take his two weeks vacation the two weeks before classes commence... and has no backup... go figger)... and he has an appointment to meet with the state VA rep who handles OEF and OIF evaluations... They will take an extra day to arrive here so that they can stop along the way to visit with the parents of another wounded soldier who is on medical hold and with whom Noah & Mel stayed these past 10 days...

Their rooms are ready... linens cleaned... extra pillows all fluffed... decorative but little-used furniture (like a coffee table near the guest room sofa) moved out and more useful pieces (like a large desk and chairs) moved in... all items previously stored in the guest closets removed to newly-constructed storage elsewhere... the small guest room dresser moved out and a much larger two-person dresser moved in...

We all share the same feelings at the moment: great anticipation at the arrival but trepidation at the same time. It has been a few years since we have had other people live with us in our home (I was going to say "kids" but they have both been in the Army... he has been to war and bears the wounds... they are married... they are expecting a child... but still just 22... ) and she's a little anxious about coming to stay with the in-laws... I used to call mine -- quite affectionately -- the outlaws [wink]. Mel, I understand.

We all know that this will take some getting used to... that compromises will need to be made... that it will be an adjustment for all of us. When I said to Noah, "Well, you know we haven't had kids in the house for a while," he chuckled and said, "That's OK, Ma... we haven't had parents in the house for a while either." We have agreed to have an informal "sit down" (we called them "family meetings" when I was a kid) when they arrive just to air all our expectations... I don't want to call them "rules"... speaking for the parent side of the equation, our expectations really are pretty simple: clean up after yourselves and just show common courtesies for others in the house. Other than that, you do your thing, we'll do ours.

We don't how long this arrangement will last. They are hoping to get a place of their own sooner rather than later... we hope the same. Not that we don't want them here, but it's a good thing when the hatchlings can fly the nest and soar on their own. It's our job as parents: equip our children with the skills and ability to make reasoned decisions and choices, leave home and then stay there... LOL.

SO wave and blow kisses at that dark blue SUV with the Georgia plates manned by that handsome couple heading west on I-40 for the next few days!

So, here's the start of a whole new chapter in the book we call "Life with Children"... in a time of war. I plan to continue to blog about all things related to all Our Guys... here and there.

Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been
Truckin', I'm a goin' home. whoa whoa baby, back where I belong
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin' on
Hey now get back truckin' home.

Truckin' (Garcia/Weir/Lesh/Hunter)

And in addition to this soldier coming come, we are wishing fair winds and following seas to our sailor son who set sail very recently on the Navy's version of a "surge" deployment (that's Navy speak for "you got three days to get ready for a [maybe] 5 month cruise...) He's been there, done this before... So, dear Hansel our Sailor, please find your way home safe.... and soon. We'll check in on your girls regular.



At 8/15/2007 5:47 PM , Blogger Long-time RN said...

Lots of changes in the near future. Hope these changes bring laughter, renewal and restoration of the spirit
as you work out the new living arrangements!

At 8/18/2007 10:43 AM , Blogger Melinda said...

Best hopes & wishes for the coming days for all of you. So glad he's finally finished with all the rigamarole and headed home. And, happy for you that you can say what's on your mind now without worrying too much about fallout for Noah.


At 8/19/2007 10:55 AM , Blogger StoicMom said...

Welcome to "Life As We Didn't Intend It" - Part II (Part I was, of course, Noah's getting injured).

I have been there and done that, and how. Married-With-Children lived with us for about 6 months (that was a fun adventure), and now my other son, the soldier, and his wife are visiting before he heads out to Iraq. A nephew is living in the soldier's room until he graduates from high school next spring so, while I thought I was going to enjoy the empty nest from now on, it just hasn't been very empty.

Good thing we are stong women, huh?

At 8/19/2007 1:54 PM , Blogger Harrywr2 said...


IMHO I would be planning on Months rather than Weeks for Noah to re-discover his wings. He is from fine stock and have no doubt he will eventually soar once again.

At 8/21/2007 10:10 AM , Blogger kbug said...

Well, I guess by now your Hansel and Gretel have arrived...hope all is going well. I know what it's like to have the grown "kids" come home to live for a while. We weren't "alone" for very long before Katie moved in with us for the year Seth was deployed. Then three months ago, Kevin moved in when he left active duty. He's still here, trying to get his future plans sorted out, and may be here for a few more months depending on how things go. He, too, plans to move on asap. We love him dearly, as we do all our boys, and our house will always be their home with a revolving door, but it's the natural order of things for them to move on. My best wishes to you and the family...and I hope you enjoy the time they are there..... :)

At 8/21/2007 7:11 PM , Blogger BamaCoast said...

Soldier's Mom,

It took over two years and help from my US Senators military liason for my son to get his Combat Action Badge. He finally recieved it about 7 months after he was medically retired. Even though he was home the Army Awards Center sent it to his former 3ID unit. His unit keep his Medal and just mailed him the paper work. I had to called the awards center and they mailed another one direct to our house right away.

Good lukc to Noah and family.


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