The Guilt


Sis B's husband was supposed to be going on a dangerous mission.  And then she wrote this:

And now we found out that he will be left behind. I should be overjoyed, right? And yes, a great part of me is relieved. But another part feels guilty... I guess that's a decent word for it. My friends are going to be facing the hell of this task, while Soldier Boy and I will still be able to talk frequently and enjoy the comfort of his relative safety.He sounded so disappointed and upset. He's sending these men, whom he loves and considers brothers, out to face incredible danger, while he stays behind in relative comfort.Who knew relief could hurt like this?

Deployments are like snowflakes, but it's even more complicated than that, isn't it?

In 2004, my husband's platoon was chosen to go to Fallujah.  Yeah, that Fallujah, the ugly one.  And departure was scheduled for my husband's R&R, so he wasn't going to be able to come home.  But something in the Army changed, as often happens, and they didn't end up sending my husband's platoon.  They sent his best friend's, and thus was born the Armor Geddon blog.

My husband had already been to Najaf twice on long missions, so he wasn't exactly crying to have been passed over.  And neither was I, because I didn't want him to miss his R&R.

But when people from our post started dying during his R&R, that was not easy.  He was home, he was safe, and he had been passed over to go.  And my friends' husbands were in some of the heaviest fighting of the year.

And one friend lost her husband, on the last night of my husband's R&R.  My husband and I were sitting together on the sofa when I found out her husband had been killed 2000 miles away.



On recent episodes of Army Wives, Roxy has been dealing with the idea that Trevor wants to return to war instead of staying home with his family.  At first she was hurt and offended.  Trevor had no way to explain how he was feeling, other than to say, "You're not a soldier; you don't understand."  I think over the past couple of episodes, Roxy has started to understand that many servicemembers feel like, if there's fighting going on, they need to be a part of it with their brothers and sisters in arms.  They need to be there to make sure the unit is whole and everything is working in sync. 

Something AirForceWife said to me rang so true: her husband would've rather died himself than lose one of his men.  I am sure my husband feels the same way.  He used to have nightmares about losing his loader.  Always the same soldier, always the same sense of foreboding.  He used to watch over that boy like a hawk, and his fear of losing him was so great that during one battle, my husband barked an order at him to get down...right as a round hit where his head had been moments earlier.  If he had lost that soldier, my husband never would've been the same again; he would've carried entirely too much guilt.  As it stands, he still frets over things he could've done differently or better, things he could've done to be more useful.  He just wanted to be as useful as he could to the Army and the war.

Thus Trevor's guilt at being home.  And his fast-tracking his physical therapy so he can get back.

In looking for an episode summary or a clip from Army Wives, I noted with a chuckle that the TV Squad reviewer said:

Trevor can't speak to Roxy about what happened because she's not a soldier and doesn't get why he wants to go back to rejoin his buddies. I don't get it either. I feel like Roxy.

And the wife's guilt, that is another strange aspect of deployment, one that outsiders also might not understand.


The day my husband came home and told me he'd been assigned to Rear D, that was a day of guilt.  We were new to the unit, and he'd been chosen because he was the most recent addition.  I wondered how I would face the other wives in the company for the first time when they knew that their husbands would be leaving and mine would stay back.  I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that my husband hadn't been deployed since early 2005, and he was being chosen to stay behind.  We were due for a deployment, right?  He was willing to go, we had prepared for it, and we both felt so much guilt at being asked to take on Rear D.

And I love that AirForceWife, upon hearing my husband had been assigned to Rear D, sent him a sympathy card.  She got it.  She just totally understood that guilt.

It all became moot after another soldier squeaked into the company at the last minute and bumped my husband out of Rear D and back onto the deployment list.  But not completely moot: my husband is now a pogue.  While the soldiers he supports are out running missions, he mans a computer and sits in air conditioning.  This time, I have the guilt of constant contact and an easy deployment.  Last time my husband, like Sis B's, was the pointy end of the spear; this time he fills out the finance paperwork to set the spear in motion.  Kinda different.

And there's a guilt there.  A guilt that I talk to him often.  A guilt that he's not in danger.  A guilt that, even though we already know the departure date for his next deployment, he's not going to be gone 15 consecutive months.

Next deployment, my husband will be pointy spear again.  I think in many ways I welcome it.  At the pointy end of the spear, you don't have as much of this guilt.  For me, that's easier to deal with.

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