Should We Wish for the Olden Days?


I alluded to it before, and now I’m just going to say it: talking to my husband on the phone during deployment stresses me out.

It’s a no win situation. I need to and want to talk to him. But the whole process of waiting for him to call, figuring out what to say, saying it, knowing when to hang up and wondering if I’m stressing him out by sharing too much or not sharing enough is just a killer. Someone needs to write a handbook on this.

I know it’s stressful for him too. He’s far away fighting a war, for crying out loud, and I’m sure my family drama isn’t helping him focus. But the boy is my best friend and I can’t just not tell him things.

Compared to some, though, he has it good. I know I’m not worrying him so much that he can’t focus on his mission. Some service members aren’t so lucky.

And that leads me to this question: are we better or worse off for all this communication during deployment? Would things be easier if we were back in the days of our grandparents, writing letters to our service members that may never be received or answered?

I asked Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, what she thinks. Should we, I asked, wish for the olden days back again?

Mrs. Rumsfeld had a front row seat to how life in the military has changed for families as her husband oversaw the transition to the all volunteer military in the mid-1970s and returned as Defense Secretary from 2001 to 2007. Her husband also served in the Active Duty Navy and Reserves.

“There’s no turning back -- the tools are out there, people require it ... There’s no way to put that back in the toothpaste tube,” she said. “Were there advantages to (how it was)? Yes. And are there advantages today? Yes. ... There are advantages to what we have now, and I think we should accept that.”

In short, she said, it’s not worth worrying about.

Meanwhile, we can work on figuring out how to deal with what we’ve got.

(Incidentally, not everyone agrees with Mrs. Rumsfeld. Researchers at the RAND Corporation are in the middle of a study examining this very question).

Photo by Flickr user Umbrella Shot

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