Torpedoing a Perfectly Written Story


Yesterday, one of those feel-good, benign articles about Army wives supporting one another appeared on CNN's website.

Ann Campbell and Marla Schroeder dub each other "battle buddies," although they've never gone to war. Between them, they have 45 years in the U.S. Army. They're the wives of the top commanders of the 101st Airborne Division.

"Our husbands look after each other, and we look after each other," says Ann Campbell, the wife of Maj. Gen. John Campbell, the commanding general of the Combined Joint Task Force 101. "We always joke that being an Army wife is actually the toughest job in the Army."

Their job has become even more important this year. This summer, the base has seen the highest three-month death toll in Afghanistan since the war began. Forty-two soldiers from the 101st were killed during the months of June, July and August. Another six soldiers have died in battle in September.

The author did a great job and the article was a perfect human interest piece. But whoa boy, did all hell break loose in the comment section. A sample of some of the vitriolic comments:

Gee - it's a bummer their life is so freakin' hard. WAAAAAAYYYY more hard than those of us who are married, have kids, both working multiple jobs to make ends meet and give the kids everything they need. And there they sit, with a complete system built around them to do nothing but support them - PAID FOR by my tax dollars. Geez - they got it pretty easy in my book. A heck of a lot easier than any police officer wife or fireman wife or any other job that puts their life at risk. No one said they had to be army wives

Jealous? Nope. I prefer to work for what I get. Not just get it because of what my spouse does. REAL hard driving those kids to soccer practice and teaching them to drive, isn't it. Well, I do that too AND hold down one full time and two part time jobs while my spouse has a full time job that takes over 60 hours a week.

Almost two years ago, Army wife Rebekah Sanderlin ran into a similar situation when she dared to wonder how the public could be more war weary than the military.The knowledge that no comment section on any one story can represent the feelings of everyone makes this no less dispiriting to read.

To be fair, there are plenty of supportive comments as well (and I encourage you to read through all 400+ of them),but it's really difficult to overlook the nasty comments about the physical appearance of these ladies, and the comments painting them (and us) as lazy do-nothings being supported by taxpayers. Never mind the fact that they -- and we -- are taxpayers, too. These ladies were not whining. They were not asking for public support. They were doing nothing more than opening a window into their world. Which, by the way, includes wearing two hats - Army Wife and Army Mother. And once again, the rank issue was front and centerfor some civilian and military commenters because Ann Campbell is married to a General and Maria Schroeder is married to a CSM (top enlisted). Some adopted a "How dare they" attitude. How dare they, indeed. As you know,senior military spouses haven't a care in the world. In fact, I think they're aliens.

Blue Star Families 2009 Lifestyle Survey found that a whopping 94% of respondents felt that "the general public does not truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families."

As a milspouse, I find that statistic unsurprising. I'm among the 94%. A statistic is a number, but how do you turn it around, if that's your goal? Definitely a fantastic topic for another day.For now, I see comments on stories like this and just shake my head at the hostility directed at military families by some people. There is no question that there's a military/civilian divide. There always will be. That's just the way it is. I think it's the degree which concerns the concerned.

And harsh, bitter comments on such a noncontroversial story do not bode well for the concerned.

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