Sunday, November 18, 2012

Veteran's Day: Homage To My Soldier

When I met my husband, he was stationed in Bamberg, Germany as part of the 1st Infantry Division Band; and there, my 2-year adventure as an Army wife started. It was difficult since I did not fit in. I was never one of the wives to have a "Proud Army Wife" or "Support The Troops" sticker on my car or asked for military discounts wherever I went. Having lived in Germany all my life, I felt lost in the attention the soldiers received. I remember my husband visiting me at work at a middle school because he had a day off work around Veteran's Day; my colleagues bought him lunch and thanked him for his service, which is something you would never encounter where I grew up. When we went to restaurants he sometimes received a free meal, there were military discounts on apartments, rental cars, etc.

The summer I was pregnant with our first daughter I hardly saw him as he would be gone all weekend long and when he was off during the week I had to work. For his birthday that year I had planned a quick little babymoon to a theme hotel in Kansas City. Needless to say, we were almost cheated out of it due to a last minute engagement for some general's dinner party (and yes, we filled up the hot tub in our hotel room at 12:30am). As I was getting closer to Lily's birthday, it was announced that the band would be on a tour to New Orleans for Mardi Gras for several days before and after my due date, and you can't imagine that neither of us was looking forward to me being home alone during that time. We were lucky enough that his new First Sergeant decided that he would be able to stay with me should Lily not be there 2 weeks before the tour (she did arrive the day before her due date).

All this, along with the situation in the band and having no real prospects of advancing or personal development made us decide that being civilian was the best for our family. Since he had not yet deployed to the Middle East by then increased the risks of him being sent there on short notice. He was not afraid of being deployed, nor were we worried about our relationship, but our daughter deserved better. She deserved growing up with both her dad and mom with a stable environment and not how many military kids grow up.

From the time he left, we had to learn what being a "veteran" really means. He was discharged within a day without the usual trainings and medical checks. They threatened him with charging him for disorderly conduct and disobeying orders should he not sign off on all the papers they put in front of him. He was outright lied to when it came to the benefits he would be entitled to from that time on. And most of all, he was not handed over his medical records to apply for disability benefits once he was discharged.

Having experienced all that I have to say that most of the times, being a soldier or being a veteran means nothing to the government. There are people out there who appreciate the service and sacrifices these men and women and their families have made and are still making, but the support from the government is sorely missing. We are working now for month to retrieve the hubby's medical records for his injuries he suffered in the service and no-one seems to be responsible. It's going to be a longer journey and I hope that one day he will succeed in being reimbursed for all of that.

This is my homage to a man who did what was right for his family, and for this I love and respect him beyond words. I was never a proud Army wife, but I will be proud to be HIS wife till the day I die!

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