Tag Archives: Military Mom

Sick & Tired

How often in our lives have we heard the phrase ‘sick and tired’ either from the mouth of our mothers or from our own mouths for our children? I remember a comedy routine by Bill Cosby when he was referencing his childhood and his mother was scolding him with the beginning of the phrase ‘sick’ and he finished the ‘and tired’ and said he doesn’t remember anything after that. It is a phrase uttered by mothers when they are just at the end of the line and fed up with whatever situation is going on with the family.

I am a mother of a soldier now veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I’m not a politician, lawmaker, general or leader of a country. I do not make the decisions to send soldiers off to war but I do see first hand the destruction that war produces – not only on the body but on the spirit of the soldier as well as the family and those who love them. And yes, I’m sick and tired of wars in our world. As with so many mothers it isn’t the labor of pain that is unbearable, it is watching one’s child in pain – whether physical, mental or spiritual that is the most unbearable pain of all. I can look at my son see gaping wounds in his soul that need to heal for they are festering wounds of the horror the war left behind. I know my son doesn’t see the wounds that his family sees. He believes if he just gets his life back in order everything will be okay as before his multiple deployments.

PTSD falls heavy upon the soldiers but it also falls upon the family and friends of the soldier. My son is a veteran of two terms of deployment in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was sent to Iraq at the beginning of the war, remaining 12 months; came home for six months, went back for 12 more months, returned home for a year and then was sent to Afghanistan for 15 months. He is now out of the military at his choosing because his young family fell apart while he was at war on his third deployment and his children needed him home. It was a painful decision because he loved being a soldier and the military life. He is the type of soldier the military needs but the destruction that he could not stop, the protection he could not provide was happening to his young family and he made the decision to leave in order to be more for his children.

For so many years I spoke out against the abuse of our soldiers by our government for treating them as robots and androids as though their lives and their families’ lives are expendable. A few years back I had the privilege to sit down with six other military families members to speak to Ohio Senator George Voinovich. I brought the picture of my son and his family and showed him that my son is not a robot or an android but a human being putting his life on the line for our country. I wanted justification for the multiple deployments that ignore the needs of the humanity of the soldier. I also had the privilege of being included in a conference call with Ohio Senator Sharrod Brown in which I asked him when all our soldiers are finally home from these wars and later into their lives when all the horror they experienced comes vomiting out of them – who will be there to help clean it up and to help them heal.

There are two losses from such wars – the physical loss of life and the loss of a part of one’s soul/spirit. The men and women from these two wars have experienced over and over again and again one deployment after another without having a chance to heal from the last deployment. It didn’t help that a representative from Ohio commented that the lives our young men and women was a small price to pay for this war. It doesn’t help that the military and society has this hang-up about seeking mental help – viewed as a weakness more than a definitive need. And it certainly didn’t help when the country was told to look away and ‘pretend’ there is no war and to go about our lives as though everything is just fine, while a certain segment of our society – the military suffered in so many ways.

Those of us in military families who have spoken out against the war are met with ugliness and destructive comments from our fellow citizens among which we are called unpatriotic and un-American. I’ve had friends tell me to stop speaking out because it would ‘hurt my son’s career!’ Really? He’s been thrown into the fires of hell with several deployments for a war that was a lie and I’m hurting his career? Of course none of them had a loved one in the military so I ignored their ‘concern.’ I had other friends tell me that, hey, this war isn’t as bad as Vietnam – there haven’t been that many deaths! I sat and wondered – well tell that to the mother and dad, or the wife and children of the soldier who just died or to the young mother of the warring country holding her dead toddler in her arms and tell them that this isn’t as bad as Vietnam.

As a mother I want to just explode and say to others who seek war, who seek to destroy our world that “I’m Sick and Tired!” Somewhere leaders and fanatic religious within our world have decided that children – our children are needed to fight ‘their wars – their beliefs.’ As mothers of the world, who are we allowing to take our babies we now nurse and turn them into killing machines? As mothers of the world, who are we allowing to convince our children that suicide is a good thing to promote fanatic beliefs? As mothers of the world who are we allowing to use our children as robots while ignoring the humanity our child?

Have we learned nothing from our past histories that violence and killing only causes more violence and more killings? Holy prophets of all the great religions have been sent to give the message of peace and love. Why do powerful leaders and religious fanatics seem to always turn a deaf ear to such messages and why do they seem to have such a fear of these messages? Even in what they call justified wars it often leads to more wars and more killings of the innocents.

As a mother, I want to take these leaders who want war and killings and put them into a room and sit them down. They will be forced to come to a conclusion or never leave the room. Basically a permanent time-out until matters are resolved. However if they insist that fighting is the only answer then they are to strip and be naked of clothing and weapons, along with no food or water; just four walls and a concrete floor. The room could be freezing cold or horrifically hot. There will be no bodyguards, no one protecting them. It’s not about making things nice for them it is about facing their decision and not using others to make it happen. War is ugly and if they choose to fight then so be it – but no longer on their terms of using others. They will have to face each other because mothers around the world have decided that our children are not going to be used by such people for their agenda of violence.

No I’m not a politician, lawmaker, general or leader of a country. I’m also not naiveté of the powers of evil within our world or the need for military presence. I’m an American citizen and a mother of a veteran who has had enough. There is a March for Life happening every year in our nation’s capital with the focus on the life of the unborn. I believe that if people take the time to march for the child within the womb, then they must not stop “marching for life” once the child is born.

I’m a mother who is just sick and tired of the fact that we fail to learn these many years the destruction that war does to a person, to a family, and to a nation and ultimately the world. It must never be a knee-jerk reaction but the very last resort and then think again. I’m a mother who is so sick and tired of those who feed into violence as the only solution to a challenging situation. It is time for mothers to state; ‘not with my child and mean it.’

By Susan Handle Terbay

Military Families reflect on the end of the Iraq War

The nightmare continues…

From Pat Alviso and Jeff Merrick, Long Beach Ca. Parents of Marine who has been deployed 4 times

As a loving family, along with our son, who is a career Marine, we watched in horror when we invaded Afghanistan and the drumbeat for war lead into the senseless invasion and occupation of Iraq. Military families have paid dearly- over 4,000 of our loved ones are gone forever. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead. And it took all this time to finally get out of a war that should never have happened in the first place? People like us who are fighting for justice and against the misuse of our military are telling me they will believe it when they see it.

In our home, we take heart in the fact that our president has announced we will finally be out in December, even though this was a result of not being able to cut a deal with the Iraqi’s regarding troop accountability and that this was President Bush’s signed Status of Forces’ Agreement, not anything President Obama decided. Our son has been deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. He is scheduled to be re-deployed again in January. For us- and so many others- the nightmare continues.

The War Has Come to an End – for Whom?

From Susan Handle Terbay

Over 30 years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  I loved him from the moment I felt his movement inside my body and that love has never wavered.  I nurtured him, taught him right from wrong.  My life centered around him and his siblings.

That son went to war and returned a different son and I grieve.  The military taught him how to take a life but not how to live a life after fighting in a war.  The military taught him to disassociate his feelings – to become void of any feelings during a war but did not tell him how to allow feelings of love and joy to return.

The war I protested, the war that provided nothing to the world except destruction of humans from our soldiers to the innocents of the invaded country, has invaded the sanctity of my family and it never goes away.  No one outside the family realizes the depth of wounds within our hearts as we watch my son’s struggles to heal and be normal in a society that praises him in one moment and completely ignores and abandons him in the next.  We are his life-line and yet we are his enemy.  It is a reality of  so many military families of soldiers with PTSD.  While my son suffers from PTSD – so too, do we as his family.

When the President stated that our soldiers were coming home from Iraq by the end of the year, I hesitantly smiled, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the conditions to be laid out.  If it is true then what will our sons and daughters be coming home to in our country?  Praise, of course; heroes, of course and then when all the glitter is gone what is left but a soldier and his/her family struggling to heal the wounds that forever bleed and to find laughter again when overwhelming sadness prevails deep within a soul.  Society has a short memory and will turn on these young men and women if they fail to live up to our high standards of living.  We used them and now we are done with them attitude has to end in this country and it is time we start to respect life of all humans.

The war is coming to an end but is it really?

When will we ever learn? Now is the time.  Now let’s bring them home from Afghanistan.   Now let us learn to live in peace and not have knee-jerk reactions that lead us to war and worse the loss of our young men and women – physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Now is the time to be the country who leads the world in life and living in peace and not the country who leads the world in its destruction.

War destroys so much and it never, ever ends for those it consumes!

My Son Leaves for Afghanistan July 25, 2011

-DAY #1: Text Message, Sunday, June 19, 2011 @ 9:50 am-

Mom: Did you make it to your new base okay? Call when you can. Love you.
Son: Everything is good
Mom: Keep me posted! Let me know when and how we can communicate.
Son: Okay I will

-1:59 pm-

Son: Hey the 3-71 Cav 3rd Brigade 10th Mountain left in Feb or March. Some guys are leaving late next month. It’s 50/50 if I go.
Mom: How do they decide? Did they go to Afghanistan? Kandahar?
Son: I don’t know how they decide. They went to Kandahar.

-DAY #2: Text Message, Monday, June 20, 2011 @ 9:19 am-

Son: I was told I would be going some time in the next 30 days
Mom: That soon? Are others going? Will you be able to give us a date?
Son: Yes there are others going. No date yet
Mom: How do you feel about going to Afghanistan? Do you feel prepared? Does it scare you?
Son: I really don’t want to talk about it right now

-DAY #3: Text message, Tuesday, June 21, 2011 @ 4:15 pm-

Son: I leave July 25th for Afghanistan
Mom: Can I come with you?

Hi, my name is Patty. I am the Mom of a 10th Mountain Division U.S. soldier. My 21-year old son graduated from his AIT (Army Intensive Training) on June 9, 2011. On June 18th, he re- ported to Fort Drum, NY. On July 25th he is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan.

3-days was all it took for my world to crash. 3-days was all it took for the U.S. military to change my son from the “new soldier on the block” to “the next soldier to be deployed”. I still have not wrapped my mind around the fact that my son is really going to Afghanistan. Only a few days ago I listened as President Obama publicly announced his “plan” to bring home 33,000 U.S. troops by September 2012, leaving 68,000 to continue in this war that has no promise of end in sight. I had small hopes as I listened, that President Obama would hear the cries of a nation to bring their children home. I had small hopes that President Obama would see the desperation of a nation plagued by unemployment, loss of homes, lack of health care, declining educational insti- tutions, communities devastated by natural disasters, and bring the war dollars home. I had small hopes that President Obama would speak to a nation of people with words of encouragement and hope. I had small hopes that President Obama would say “Troops, job well-done. It is time for you ALL to come home.”

Small hopes, while small, are still hopes. Yet this morning, as I write this, my small hopes have become unstoppable tears. Tears for the more than 6,000 soldiers that will not be walking through doors to be embraced by their loved ones. Tears for the many soldiers wounded, whose lives will forever be impacted and changed by this “war on terror”. Tears for the thousands of civilians wounded or killed under the guise of imposing self-determination. Tears for the loved ones who sit by the phone waiting to hear the voice of their soldier. Tears for the loved ones fear- ful to answer that knock on the door. Tears for those that may still be lost.

As the President’s drawdown plan begins to permeate my life, many questions arise.

Mr. President, if you are really planning on bringing our troops home, why are there soldiers now waiting to be deployed?

I understand the theory of rotating troops. I understand the advantages of rotating the troops; rested soldiers have higher morale and are better suited to keep the enemy engaged. I also under- stand the disadvantages of rotating the troops; the strategy requires additional planning and man- agement skills. It also requires a heavier investment in personnel, training and equipment.

Mr. President, as U.S. soldiers return home, shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the Afghan gov- ernment to fill their replacement? We’ve been there for 10-years, surely we have provided enough training to allow the Afghans to begin to defend themselves and define their own road to self-determination.

Mr. President, what do you consider victory in Afghanistan? Are you “holding out” on bringing our troops home until we have reached your definition of victory? How long can you continue to ignore 73% of the nation wanting the war in Afghanistan to end? How many more soldiers must sacrifice their lives for you to bring them home? How many more dollars that are needed here at home, must be deflected to a cause that fewer and fewer believe in?

And many other questions that still remain to be answered.

In the meantime, my hopes that became tears, quickly becomes rage. Rage at feeling helpless to make a difference. Rage at feeling hopeless that the people will ever be heard by a government removed. Rage that as a Mom, I can’t make the journey to Afghanistan with my son. I’ve been there through all of the other scary situations he has faced; sometimes to alleviate the fear, some- times to help heal the wound, sometimes to show the way, and sometimes to just hold his hand. Now I am being asked to stay behind. Now I am being asked to trust. Now I am being asked to wait as my son makes a journey to a land where outcomes are unknown.

I now start almost every conversation the same. My name is Patty, and I AM the Mom of a 10th Mountain Division U.S. Soldier. I now begin and end my day with the same prayer;

“Please help me find a way to be heard. Please let me find a way to help end this war and to bring them all home. Help me find a way to get up everyday and do what I have to do and to not be frozen by my fears. Please help me find a way to support my son.”

Hopes, while small, are still hopes. Tears while they become rage, are still empowering. I will not be quiet. I will not go away. I will not let the powers-that-be forget what is at stake. I will not let anyone forget that ending this war matters to me. I will not let anyone forget mine or anyone else’s soldier. It is time to bring them all home now!

Patty Bennett Mom of 10th Mountain Division U.S. Soldier & Member of Military Families Speak Out