As an Army wife, I'm often frustrated with the collective yawn at the massive good works projects that are undertaken daily by our spouses in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wish more people had a window inside the hearts of our troops. I understand the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality, but to ignore the valuable humanitarian contributions of our troops, who are working to make life better for millions of people, is a huge disservice to their efforts. You can advocate for or against the war, and still recognize that our troops are working to make a difference in the lives of the people in war-torn regions.
When my husband was in Afghanistan, he spent many days at orphanages delivering supplies and clothing to the orphans. Due to decades of war, civil strife and other societal factors, Afghanistan has approximately two million orphans. After my husband visited his first orphanage, he sent me an email which read, in part:
We get hundreds of boxes of stuff each week from church's and good folks - clothes, toys, books, food etc.
These people (like all the folks we see) just need so much. Most have shoes with holes, most had no socks, no gloves, no hats. Again, very sad. But like most kids, they loved attention and loved the camera.
People told me that this would be the highlight of my tour and I now know why. Guess I know why people say the folks back home have no clue. Will certainly give me something to look forward to.
Our spouses are trained warriors, but they also have children, nieces and nephews. They have enormous hearts. I know of countless stories where our troops have made huge differences. Just a few, in the words of our troops, can be found here, here and here. "Mission Afghanistan" was created by service members and civilians stationed in Afghanistan who volunteer their only day off to help the people of the region. While the stories I linked to above primarily focus on helping the children, there are also massive public works projects which aim to bring some modern conveniences to villages, and make life a little easier for all involved.
Yeah, I know, it's not a "sexy" story, but those of us who have had a deployed spouse know how important this humanitarian work is to them. I know what a morale booster it was for my husband. So again, this is not a post about the merits of Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is simply a post by a milspouse who would like to see a little more face-time given to the deep humanity of our troops. It helps our troops to know they are making a difference. Anything that made my husband happy while he was deployed was welcome, and his time with the orphans always made his day.
I'll bet that the majority of spouses reading this blog have their own stories of how their spouse made a difference. If so, please share them with us, we'd love to recognize the work of your spouse.
Our spouses are warriors, but they're saints too.