Dear Army: You Made a Mistake

army made a mistake
An officer answers questions in front of a board. (U.S. Army/Adrian Patoka)

Dear Army,

You made a mistake. I know you don’t enjoy being told that, but I feel I have earned the right to let you know.

I understand the need to "trim the fat." I understand the logic behind needing to reduce the size of the current Army through Officer Separation Boards (OSB). I even thought that I understood how those choices would be made. The picture that was painted was quite simple. That is until we learned that despite the guidance that was given, my husband was chosen for separation.

How can you justify cutting officers who have no bad marks? I know the answer already -- you don’t have to justify it. These soldiers who were willing to give their lives for our country are not owed any type of answer. It is what it is.

But what about us? Those families who willingly served right alongside of our soldiers? We ran the Family Readiness Groups, organized events, spent countless hours volunteering all while holding down the fort, moving from post to post, doing what we needed to do for our families so that our soldier could do his job.

Aren’t we the least bit deserving of some sort of valid explanation? The old adage ‘needs of the Army’ doesn’t really cut it for me.

We gave all we had to you. My husband was in the middle of his company command when he was counseled that he was not at risk. He didn’t have any bad marks on his record. He received his Request for Orders that we would be moving after his command. We prepared our house. I started the familiar search for schools and sports teams and all the other things I could do to make the transition easier on my kids.

We put our home up for sale and thirty minutes later, I received a text. The branch chief had called and said our orders were put on hold until after the OSB. My husband asked if he was now at risk, but the chief evaded the question. After my husband spoke with his commander, he was assured that it had to be just a change to the orders. He didn’t think there was a risk.

He was wrong. We got the news the day after my birthday. And just like that everything we knew was taken away. A community that we loved and were dedicated to we were no longer a part of.

I find myself wondering if it will ever feel less painful. I just want to know why. I just want the truth.

It has been over a month and in that time, few have spoken out. And the squeaky wheels are those that in my opinion, already have their answers. Those who had DUI’s, GOMARs and the like.

But because those are the soldiers that are demanding their stories be heard even though they know exactly what it was that sealed their fate, those that conducted themselves with honor and integrity will never get answers. And most people will make assumptions that they all are just like those that are crying wolf over the ‘injustices’ of being let go knowing well and good exactly what they did that got them where they are.

I feel like that works in your favor. The narrative being told that it was the bottom of the barrel, those who messed up at one point or another in the career, perpetuates the fallacy that all was fair. You will never be taken to task for those men and women that got selected that did nothing wrong. They deserve more. We, as their families, deserve more.

You have taken so much more than a job from us. You have taken our community, a way of life that we came to know and love. We gave you everything we had, and you gave us nothing in return.

I contemplate what I am to tell our sons about honor and fairness and justice. What I am to tell them about what matters? How can I continue to teach them that you do what’s right even when it’s not easy and that always pays off? How can I possibly continue to tell them that? I am ashamed of allowing myself to buy into the illusion that things might be so simple.

With a broken heart and a battered spirit,

Elizabeth Robinson

Elizabeth is a wife and mother who resides in Colorado Springs. She has been married for 15 years and has two sons. She graduated from Mississippi University for Women with a BA majoring in psychology. Over the past 6 years, she has volunteered more then 3000 hours serving the Army community. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, reading, drawing and spending time with her family.

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