No Time Off From War

A civilian relative of mine recently asked me about my husband's deployment, specifically what his schedule was like.  I said that he's been working 10 AM to midnight.  She said, "So he works like three days in a row then?"  Huh?  It took me a second before I realized that she was tallying up the hours, trying to get him to work a 40-hour week.  Ha.  I politely but kinda forcefully said that, in fact, he works all seven days of the week, as do most other deployed servicemembers.

I'm not trying to rag on my relative here, but it never ceases to shock me when someone asks a question like this about deployment.  There is no "time off" during war.  They don't get to come home for holidays, they don't necessarily get to come home for births or deaths, and they don't get to take the weekends off.  I've heard versions of all of these things, surprise that spouses don't get to come home for Christmas or that my husband is not guaranteed to be here when baby is born.  I even have a friend whose relative thought her deployed husband would get to come home on the weekends!  Can you imagine, the entire deployed force getting to commute back and forth to war?  It seems hilarious to us, but for some reason, a few civilians still seem to think that Iraq and Afghanistan are business-as-usual, with 40-hour work weeks, scheduled lunch hour, and holidays and weekends off.

I don't know where they get these ideas, but some people sure don't seem to think this is a war.  I have my complaints about news coverage from downrange, but I have never felt like the media isn't properly showing that our servicemembers are working hard.  I don't know why some civilians have the notion that deployment is like a business trip.

Civilian-equivalent work weeks.  Heh.  Not even close.

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