It’s only been a week since this whole frustrating situation started, and yet I feel like a completely transformed person.
A week ago, on Thursday January 21st, my husband was told he was very possibly shipping off to Haiti within a week’s time. Life, as we knew it, became chaos. We canceled two flights to Georgia and I spent the ensuing days and a great deal of money frantically shopping for my husband’s departure. He was, meanwhile, putting in very late hours at work, not coming home until nine at night.
On Sunday the 24th, Richard’s unit 7-158 Aviation Reserve Unit officially mobilized, calling all soldiers to report to Ft. Hood. These orders included those soldiers who flew in from faraway states on their own dime. Everyone dropped a great deal of money buying new and necessary uniforms and equipment, once again paying out of their pockets.
The next day, they were put on lockdown, told to report at 8 am and not leave the Army installation until the unit shipped out to Haiti. In twelve hours, the soldiers had to get rid of apartments and rental homes, move their belongings into storage, drop out of college, give up potential jobs, and, in some cases, find long term care for their children. Some were forced to extend their service another year, since their tour of duty was nearly complete. Simultaneously, they had to report back to Ft. Hood. Soldiers were panicking and upset.
Each day, for me, was a struggle initially. As I went through waves of intense, gut-wrenching fear and terror at being left with a nine week old infant to moments knowing all would work out, I felt for the first time very grown up. I knew, regardless of how unappealing the situation was, that Richard and I had to do this. This was his job, his commitment and I was completely supportive of that. I knew this would force me to mature and grow in ways I had yet to do. I couldn’t walk around the fire, I knew. I had to go through it. And I didn’t want to turn back.
On Friday the 29th, Richard’s unit was told to stand down; they were not going to Haiti. Initially, one would assume I’d be rejoicing. Actually, I was quite upset. A six-month deployment was far better than a twelve month deployment. He would have gone to a place desperately needing help and had been looking forward to that. I had come so far in coming to peace with the situation. The soldiers had come far and given up their lives to deploy.
Many of these soldiers now have no job, no home to return to. Everyone spent a great deal of money, for which they will not be reimbursed, to prepare. Military families emotionally and practically geared up for the deployment. I, quite frankly, find this infuriating. Will the soldiers be reimbursed their money? No. Will the Army provide them a new living place and job? No. These fine young men and women, who literally gave their all before even leaving, are let go without any support. The military families are reeling, still, from the last week.
In light of this, I will be writing my congressmen, that these men and women at least get financially reimbursed. I encourage you all to do the same. In my opinion, this situation was gravely mishandled. Men and women were treated with complete disrespect. These are the people who defend our country and keep it free. While we sleep on beds tonight under the warm covers, there will be soldiers who will be searching for just that. When you return to the job on Monday, remember those who will be beginning to search. I pray for the soldiers of the 7-158. I hope they get their lives back.