Jacey Eckhart: White House Dinner

White House

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are holding out for a ticker tape parade in New York City. Me, I am pretty excited about the formal White House dinner honoring the troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to be held Feb. 29.

I don’t know why I am so excited. I am not actually invited to the event. I am just excited for all of our military folks who do get to attend -- what an incredible Bucket List moment. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk up to the White House in a dress uniform or a tux or a gown and think this is my life??

As excited as I am for these troops and their families, I am even more excited for the Obamas and the Bidens. What a Bucket List moment for them. Can you imagine what it would be like for them to be surrounded by hundreds of our military members from all ranks and all services in formal uniforms? Can you imagine literally soaking in the selfless pride of so many military spouses? Can you imagine looking up from your dinner and suddenly knowing -- knowing to the depths of your being -- that the people sitting before you are actually powerful, courageous, joyful, fully actualized?

That is what I feel every time I attend a military ball or a dining out. I look out at that sea of uniforms and crispy haircuts and feel that these military people are truly revealed. This is who we are. This is what we are meant to be.

I guess that is why I get confused. I can tell that the current administration means well. They intend to honor and help military families with ceremonies and programs and services.

Yet somewhere along the line, I think all those folks at the top got the idea that military members are like those injured puppies and starving kittens on a Sarah McLachlan SPCA video. Somehow they got the idea that we military folks are needy. We are pitiable. We are somehow victims.

I don’t know where that idea comes from. I don’t know any military people who think that way about themselves. Oh, there are a few. There are a few victims in every population. But by and large, military people think of ourselves as the main characters in our own lives. We aren’t villains. We aren’t heroes. When tragedy strikes, military people usually think of ourselves as the most able fixers around.

We try to see tragedy as a temporary crisis in the storyline. Just like President Obama did not define himself by his losing bid for a seat in U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, military members do not define ourselves by an injury, a divorce, a financial problem.

That is why I am hoping that the Obamas and the Bidens and all the members of their administration get an eyeful this Leap Day. I hope in that setting they make the leap from seeing military families as victims to seeing the military the way we see ourselves.

Jacey Eckhart is a military life consultant in Washington, D.C.  Her newest CD, “I Married a Spartan:  The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage,” debuted Feb. 1. Reach Jacey on Facebook or through her website at www.jaceyeckhart.com.

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