Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Unknown Fear

Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name
~ Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
Yesterday afternoon the USS Truman and CVW 3 and the USS Gettysburg were surprised by the news that their deployment was postponed indefinitely. The deployment they were planning on leaving for within the next couple of days would not be happening as scheduled.  Or maybe ever.  Who knows really?  Flag officers and politicians have PhDs in being vague and that is exactly how today's news was presented. 
Vague.  Gray.  Full of "we want to care for the families" and "we'll be ready when they need us" but void of useful information about whether people could rest easy or not.
Most of you are probably wondering why I'm not just 100% happy about this turn of events.  After all, I have many good friends on the Truman.  One of my best friends has been processing the start of this deployment ever since their work-ups were accelerated last year.  Another friend is due to have her first child and her husband might now be home for the birth.  Those friends won't have to say a tearful goodbye on Friday.  Great news, right?
But it isn't that simple. There is also something about the way that all of this has unfolded that has left me frustrated and angry.  Bitter about the Navy and uncertain about my future as a spouse of a carrier aviator.  This isn't black and white.  Bad and good.  You cannot in one simple command shed the wet blanket that you wear as a military spouse preparing for deployment.
Preparing for a deployment is serious business.  Both on the military front and on the home front.  As the carriers go out to sea and work toward their operational readiness, families at home work toward emotional readiness for a deployment.  Tears are shed.  POAs are written.  Trips home are planned. Sometimes spouses move home to their families.  People give up apartments, sell cars, cancel cell phones, end relationships, and choose not to take classes for a semester or two.  This is just the tip of a very very deep iceberg.  Preparing for deployment is exhausting.  And you run and run and run, a marathon of work-ups and ins and outs and ups and downs until you are literally chomping at the bit and saying, "honey, I love you, I will miss you, BUT LEAVE ALREADY!!!!"
Multiply this exhaustion by about 6,000 families. 
I know that at least for my good friend, she was at this "get out of my house" point.  She was ready to say "goodbye".  Ready because, once you finally say goodbye and watch the ship pull away you can shift into deployment mode and start counting down to homecoming.  It is hard for non military families to understand, but deployment is often a release; an exhale of emotion because, finally, you aren't anticipating everything so heavily.  It is here.  You can act.  You can grieve, but you can also start doing all the things you have been planning on.
6,000 families are now being told they must continue to hold their breath.
Deployment wasn't canceled with a reassuring "don't worry, your service member will be home for you".  It was taken away and replaced with the unknown.  A vague postponement where they will be ready to deploy with little to no notice.  Maybe.  Who knows. 
These families will be living on pins and needles.  They likely won't be able to plan vacations.  They will be nervous to sign new leases, cancel their current deployment plans and procedures, and start really planning their everyday lives the way most Americans can.  Families will nervously wonder what is going on, keep their ears perked up for any information that they can glean from the "powers that be".  Grasping for anything, any clue, any indication, that they will have to steel themselves for those dreaded pre-deployment weeks. 
This makes me sad.  Sad because, as a military spouse I already live with dozens of unknowns.  I am in Kansas right now and I don't know what state or coast I will be sitting in 12 months from now.  I don't know where my kids will go to school.  I don't know when my husband's next deployment will happen.  And now, with this development, once I do know his deployment schedule I now know that less than 48 hours before he leaves they could just pull the entire rug out from under us.
It isn't right.  I know that this whole thing comes down to the one thing that runs the world: money.  And I know it is completely naive of me to think that families would come first.  But his kind of emotional whiplash takes a toll.  It is wrong.  And it is disrespectful to the service members and their families.  Disrespectful of their hard work, dedication, and planning. 
My girlfriends don't deserve to be living in fear of the unknown.  I don't deserve to live in fear of the unknown. And service members, as brave and flexible and wonderful as they are, definitely don't deserve it.


Siobhan said...

Very well said! My husband is in one of the squadrons attached to the Truman.

Whitney said...

Thank you for such a well-articulated view of it all. It is exactly like we have been told to keep holding our breath. My hubby is in a squadron attached to the Truman. This transition has been brutal. Shockingly so. The part that was the most upsetting was that the general public found out AT THE SAME TIME as the service members. That was completely disrespectful of the sacrifice and time my husband has devoted to our country. Every single service member should know what is going on with their life BEFORE the general public. very concerning.
thanks for a great post!

Lori said...

Yeah. Not loving it for anyone.

Frankly...somewhat glad that John only has a few years left. I'm worried.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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