Memorial Day

Anything military always makes me teary-eyed. I love watching the videos of American soldiers coming home after being deployed. It’s heartwarming to see them reunite with their families. I love watching the motorcycle rides parading down the highway to honor those who have served our country. Yesterday, we pulled to the side of the road to allow them to pass and to show our support.

It’s amazing what these vets have done for our country. I think about my uncles, my dad, and my brother who have passed on. They were proud to have served our country. And I think about my son who has been deployed three times, putting himself in danger and making sacrifices along the way.

And not to forgot all others who have served and continue to serve…I thank you for your service. My heart goes out to the parents who have had sons or daughters who did not come home. One in particular that I’m thinking about today is an EOD who served with my son. He will never be forgotten.

Vandenberg Memorial

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Lessons Learned: American Sniper

Wow. The movie “American Sniper” was intense.

I went to see the movie yesterday with my husband. I knew that I’d have a hard time watching parts of it. I knew that I’d get emotional. This movie gave me a different perspective of what our men and women experienced when deployed (on tour) to Iraq (or to Afghanistan as well). This movie had me think about my son’s experience when he was deployed. Even as I write this, I can feel my chest tighten with emotion. For me, the movie was powerful.

“American Sniper” is about Chris Kyle and his experience as a Navy Seal and being one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history. The movie showed us what duty, honor, and to protect meant through his eyes. The story is also about the adjustment back home, Chris’s struggles between duty and family. How he had to learn to be with family again.

As I watched the movie, I thought about my son and wondered how he felt when deployed to Iraq (once) and Afghanistan (twice). What did he see? What did he go through? I remember his attitude after Iraq. How he was impatient, more angry, and distant when he returned home. I know war changes people. I understood my son would change. “The Hurt Locker” was another movie that showed us what war was like for EODs (those disarming bombs). My son, an EOD, watched the movie with us and explained what was “Hollywood” and what was real. The movie was intense as well. The “Hurt Locker” scared the crap out of me because I realized that this is what my son actually does for a living. However, I think “American Sniper” gave me a better understanding of the whole picture (the commitment through readjustment).

I would recommend seeing “American Sniper.” The movie reminded me of the sacrifices our men and women have given. How committed they are to serving our country. Very intense.

Lessons Learned: Veterans Day – more than you realize…

When you see a veteran tomorrow, or any day, remember to thank them for their service. They deserve this day…and then some.

For all those who served our country and fought in a war, there was the immediate risk of danger. Our vets from previous wars and those still in active duty have seen things and been through experiences that we can’t even imagine. I think of the soldiers being attacked, having bullets come at them and not know if they’ll get out safely. I think of the soldiers who have been exposed to biological or chemical warfare. They may not have known about the exposure or seen the damage it caused until years after the fact.

And for those who served our country but did not have to fight during war, they were able to prepare, strategize, and train. They were ready to take action. Their work moved the military forward.

Tomorrow the veterans deserve their day.

To all who have and are serving, I thank you.
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Communication across the Miles

I sympathize with the military families involved in the different wars, and the rare occasion when they heard from their loved ones fighting on the frontline or off on a mission. They were lucky if they received any contact at all, and their only form of contact may have been snail mail or word-of-mouth.

I am so grateful for today’s means of communication. I appreciate the ability to connect with my son Hans who is in the military. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He lived in Korea and now lives in Germany. Sometime next year, he will deploy to an active war zone again. If I couldn’t speak to him, I would go nuts! International calls are so expensive. In an active war zone, the phones are terrible. In Iraq, they had four phones and only one worked. And that one, I knew if Hans and I were disconnected, we’d continue to disconnect with shorter periods of talk time in between. Now we only use the internet to communicate. I can keep in touch with him through Skype, email, or Facebook to see how he’s doing.

Skype is the best. A face-to-face conversation is like having him in the room with me. I can see if he looks healthy. I get to see his smile. He’s given us tours of his room wherever he’s located. I get a peace of mind knowing that he’s good. Facebook comes second. If I don’t hear from him through Skype, I check out Facebook – not to be nosy, but to see if he has any activity on his page. Activity means he’s not on a mission or hurt.  Email is also good; however, Hans doesn’t like to write. When he was home, I asked if he could write a little more in his emails, let us know what he’s been doing. Now he counts how many sentences he writes (I told him at least four).

I would hate to have been a mom or a wife or a sister before the phones or internet. If I don’t hear from Hans every couple of weeks I get worried. Now I just pop him an email if needed. I’m sure there’s others grateful for modern technology as well. I think of the fathers and mothers being able to see and talk to their children. Recently, one was able to watch the birth of their child. Even nonmilitary families can connect. When my mom was in transitional care, another patient would Skype with her grandchildren every Sunday. Who wouldn’t want to connect with family via the internet? I don’t think anyone would miss the chance if available.