Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Soul Tattoo: Hooah, Hooah, Hooah!!

(For one of my classes, I was given a composition assignment to explain "my own individual culture and worldview, which developed as a result of a personal experience"... this is what came out of it. Though we weren't married at the time of deployment, for correct verb "tense", I wrote it from my perspective now, as an Army wife.)

Hooah, Hooah, Hooah.

“Fall Out!”, were the blessed words quickly echoed by a hundred pairs of shifting feet as ***** Company ***** Aviation Regiment- of the Army National Guard, were dismissed from company formation. After a yearlong deployment to Iraq, the “Heroes Welcome Home Ceremony” commenced during the early morning hour of 0300 on New Year’s Day. A multitude of loved ones: husbands, wives, parents, children, friends and family, scanned the crowd for their soldiers, anxious for their long-awaited embrace. Reporters, photographers and troop greeters, along with local and state officials, were also present within the Army Aviation Support Facility at ******* International Airport- to offer their support and gratitude to the troops. For the first time in twelve long months, the heroes of *** were home at last.

I remember the initial feeling that swept over me as I fell into his uniformed chest and breathed in a sigh of relief. It was finally over. No longer would there 5,050 miles, an ocean, a continent, and a time zone to separate us. No more unpredictable five-minute phone calls, or unreliable video chats spaced too far between. All the sleepless nights, lonely days and sick worried feelings would be no more. He was home- to call whenever I needed, to ask him how his day went, to sit and stare at.

As an army wife who has endured the deployment of her husband, I have been left with a life impression many will never experience. That impression has, in many ways, altered and modified my thought process and evaluations of the world. The ways in which I communicate with others and react to my surroundings seem at many times to be sifted through a filter of “military life.” In response, my culture and worldviews have been greatly affected.

When my husband first deployed I had no expectations of what the year would hold. New to me were the ways of the military- the regulations, the military “speak,” the hardships, the honor and pride of supporting a soldier, and the sacrifices that came with them. I was not prepared for the bizarre effects that would become unleashed at any given moment or provoked by the slightest things such as a song on the radio, a soldier in uniform, or an army bumper sticker. It is a strange thought to realize that the ways in which you use to process and filter the world and your environment have been tinted. For me, it was the insignificant things. A computer was no longer just a research engine, but a lifeline to the other side of the world. My phone was a new appendage; I carried it to every room constantly staring at it, as if I could entice the ringer to sound. Simple everyday materials morphed from convenience to necessity. Not all technology was appreciated however; evening news became an instant stomachache. Half-reported stories of the frontlines, from a biased political perspective, hardly comfort a family awaiting the return of their soldier. Despite the struggle of being separated from a loved one in such frightening circumstances as war, I have come to acknowledge the great lessons and privileges arising from military life.

Perhaps one of the greatest blessings of military life has been the friendships in which I have come to treasure. A dear friend of mine, whose husband was also deployed last year, has become a confidant, shrink, congratulator, comforter and supporter. Though she lives across country where her husband is now stationed, we have a bond that only deployment could have created. Understanding the difficulties, the nightmares, frustrations and celebrations of a text message from Iraq at 2:00 a.m., she and I developed our own sort of “army wives club.” These are the friendships that carry you through and give you hope when the rest of the world around you moves on with life, while yours has temporarily frozen in time waiting for combat boots to grace your doormat once again.

Though my husband’s deployment starkly changed my entire world, there is one constant that remained the same: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That is the hope and comfort I have through my faith in Christ. From birth, I was raised in a Christian home centered upon Biblical principles. These truths have shaped the ways in which I endure trials, overcome challenge and maintain confidence in His control. If it were not for my faith and security in knowing my husband is protected and watched over, my experience of deployment would have been drastically different. There would have been no comfort in the unknown, no peace when seeing the headlines of casualty numbers. I can look back over the last year, see a purpose and design because I look with eyes of faith and belief in a Sovereign God.

It has been almost fourteen months since I greeted my husband at the “Heroes Welcome Home Ceremony” that frigid New Year’s morning and life has, for the most part, returned to normal. The nightmares ceased after the first few months; I am able to leave my phone while walking into another room, and video chats have been banned for the immediate future. Combat boots and ACU’s (Army Combat Uniforms) line our closet, two plates are set at the dinner table and I no longer go to sleep without goodnight wishes. My army wife view, however, I still wear like a soul tattoo, stamped across my life. I still see uniformed soldiers in an airport and tear up, hear those same songs on the radio and I am, in an instant, an ocean apart from my soldier once again.

My husband is slightly amused by this, often joking that he was deployed, and I emerged with posttraumatic stress disorder. In some ways, I think he has a valid point. Deployment changed me. It changed the way I walk through each day, convicting me to appreciate all I have and remember those who still endure the challenges of deployment. Some of those changes are for the better. I make an effort to tell those uniforms in the airport how proud and grateful I am of their selflessness and dedication. I find myself more empathetic and compassionate. Dirty uniforms overflowing the hamper bring a smile rather than more work. Changes, though minute, speak in volumes.

Life- it is challenging, sometimes difficult to bear, but within it holds beautiful blessings. The filter I now see the world through has brought me to a place of humility, gratitude, pride and honor. My values were deepened, my perseverance stretched, my friendships strengthened and, my love defined. As I read through the pages of our life during deployment, I mentally underline the phases that reshaped, modeled and transformed my own individual culture as an army wife. Among the script, I find what was once spoken as an encouragement between two army wives and dear friends, is now a confident utterance of accomplishment and survival. HOOAH. HOOAH. HOOAH.

2 comments:

Kate Pomelow said...

Beautiful!

I remember when you called me asking me for ideas on what to write about. I'm pretty sure that by the end of the conversation the answer was "duh, deployment". I'm so blessed to be your Hooah buddy -- if only Colorado wasn't so far away.

Won't it be wonderful to have our soldier's (and each other!) in our arms for 4th of July this year? Talk about a freedom celebration =)

Mrs. Bement said...

I love it!
And you.
You make me smile and cry at the same time.
:)

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