Dear Military Family: If You’re Feeling Tired and Sad, It’s Not Just You

An Airman embraces his wife as she cries.
An Airman embraces his wife as she cries. (U.S. Air Force/Dennis Hoffman)

"Fear," "retaliation," "deployment" and "harsh response." These aren't just words that have appeared in recent headlines. They are also words that bubble in my soul and in the souls of many military and veteran family members every time something new, big, scary and military-focused happens on the international stage.

"Tired," dread" and "sadness." Those aren't words that have appeared in print, but they are the things I feel when I consider the reality that more service members must deploy and that my own soldier might be among them.

In the decade since I started writing for Military.com, I have watched countless friends send off and then, later, welcome home their service members at ceremonies full of fanfare and joy. Some -- too many -- have instead met caskets.

When big things happen on the world stage, like the killing of top general of a hostile nation or missile strikes in another global hot spot, yes, I am scared of more war. I do feel fear.

But bigger than fear is a feeling of deep exhaustion and bubbling sadness. More husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters and friends might deploy. Some will not come home. Many will be injured. Conflict will alter lives the way it always has and always will.

I'll leave it to the policymakers and military leaders to grapple over force strength and funding, and to know whether, after so many long years of war, we can handle more conflicts. They can decide whether action is warranted, whether we should be in such-and-such a place or taking on any given new escalation. That's their job.

Instead, I'll stand here with my fellow military families and friends and feel the emotional and moral toll on both those who serve and those who wait. I'll acknowledge that I don't have an answer. I'll put my arm around you.

And I'll remember that there is power in this simple truth: We're all a little sad. It's not just you.

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