Letter To the War-Weary Wife

RebeccaUncategorized28 Comments

I hope my husband forgives me, I dug out a few of his letters home from Iraq for this post.

Dear War-weary Wife,

You, yes you, the one getting ready to embark on deployment number three, four, five… seven.  You, pulling yourself together on the side of the road because you just realized he’s deploying again in a handful of weeks, when you swore he just came home.  You, the keeper of the kids, runner of the house, fixer of the rebellious washing machine.  You, who sent care-packages during initial invasion stuffed with food because they were losing too much weight too fast, and now are faced with the same situation as they draw down.  This one is for you, for all of us.

There are times I envy girls embarking on their first deployment.  I know it’s scary for them, and uncertain, and unknown.  I know they don’t yet know what to expect, and that they have heard 13 million horror stories from other wives trying to drag them down.  Yet, I still envy them, because they don’t know just how crappy it really can be.  They don’t yet know the exhaustion that sets in around the eight month mark, when you’ve come so far, and still feel like there’s so much longer to go.  They haven’t yet cried when his scent has left the pillowcase.  They haven’t yet sobbed at a memorial when our friends are laid to rest, while we wonder if we are next to receive a folded flag.  Yes, first deployments are rough, but I envy those women because they are not worn down before it even begins.

To you, the war-weary, seasoned wife, I ask to mentor these girls when you can, support them, teach them about grace, composure, strength, and for the love of God, OPSEC.  I know it can be a lot to ask, but just as I may envy them for their certain degree of naivete, I do not envy the confusion, the lack of experience, or the fear.  Scary thought, but we are now the women we once looked up to.

Oh, my friends, please be good to one another.  Lean on your fellow spouses, the ones who understand why you can’t seem to shake that feeling today, why you sleep with your laptop open on his side of the bed.  The ones who have held your hand in your darkest moments and will need you to return the favor.  These are not just your friends, but your army-family, your battle-buddies, your sisters.  

Battle the exhaustion and the hopelessness with laughter.  Keep it at bay, and remind yourself that one day, these deployments will stop.  Maybe it will not be this year, or the next, but retirement will come, even if the end of war does does not.  Though we may be in the thick of this military life, too deeply invested to get out, to weary to understand how to push forward for another deployment, I know this too shall pass.  We simply have to hold on and wait.

Though it may not seem like it at times, we are the blessed ones.  We are the wives who have held them when they came home.  Some of us have bathed and redressed wounds, and some of us have glimpsed the wounds that are hidden and too deep to bandage; but we are blessed, because we have pulled up to the table, spun the Russian Roulette barrel, pulled the trigger and they have made it through time and again.  Dig through your scrapbook, so when a new wife complains that she hasn’t heard from her soldier in a few days, you can keep your perspective.  We are the war-weary, the wives who went six weeks or more between phone calls when this all first started, the ones whose first letters came written on the back of an MRE box you knew had been rationed because there weren’t enough.  We have survived deployments without cell-phones, email, internet, MWR calls, or Skype, and we can do it again.

Oh, my friends, my sisters.  We are stronger than we feel, I promise you that.

Dig through those scrapbooks, read those first letters, and look at what our marriages have survived. Look at how we haven’t just coexisted, we have thrived!  We have pushed through these years, from BDU’s, to Deserts, to ACU’s and Multicams.  We have been left to run the home-front more times than we can stomach, and we have stayed.  We have flourished!  You may feel weak, exhausted, beat down, and lost, I know, because I’m there with you, begging for an end that feels like it will never come, but there is steel underneath our soft hearts.  Do not underestimate the power you have to hold your children close, keep your husband strong, and bloom in your own right.

We know the fear, and have faced the possibilities, the doubt, the scars.

We have watched the numbers of the originals dwindle from retirement, ETS’s, divorces, and golden stars.  We have lived years of goodbyes knowing that a kiss on the floor of the hangar may well be the last we’ll ever have.  We have endured black-outs where we sat home in silence, waited and prayed.  We have known that the only thing certain about his life is our love for it.  We have wrestled with the terror, and we have soothed his away.  Because it’s his job to defend us, and our job to protect him in every way we can.  Years and numbers of deployments will never change that.

To you, the war-weary wife who has stayed loyal and true, I tip my hat, and raise my hand in recognition.  From the ladies of Apache Troop, 1/3 ACR who endured OIF 1 and OIF III by my side, to the women of Tigershark, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who held my hand for OEF 10-11 and prepare for OEF 13-14, you stun me, and I am honored to know you.  
We may be war-weary, but we will never lose sight of why we do this.  
Nearly 11 years of marriage and over a decade of war, and he is still my reason for everything.  I am weary, but Jason, you keep me strong.  Every day, even the worst day of every deployment, has been worth it because I’ve been able to call you mine.  
Ladies, I don’t know how much further we have to go, but hold on until your fingers are numb and then you hold on some more.  We’ve got this, war-weary or not.
For being the examples I’ve needed, and the friends I’ve trusted, thank you.

28 Comments on “Letter To the War-Weary Wife”

  1. Molly Huggins

    You speak my heart! Fellow pilot's wife here, gearing up for the same thing {#4 for us later this year} … have tons of questions, but don't want to ask publicly … think we know some of the same folks … anyway, I love your blog and will definitely be reading more. And congrats on your book … I'm you a year ago, but my book is NF {about this crazy army life}. We'll see what happens!

    1. Rebecca

      Molly, we're up for #4 this Spring too. =( Pop me over an email, I'd love to see who we have in common! Rebecca.E.Yarros@gmail.com

  2. Maria Sanchez

    thank you for those encouraging words…. been now 5 months (2nd) deployment) and while I don't feel like a pro.. I get by and and am encouraged. I am not near a base or group or spouses to lean on, very glad to have found your blog.

    1. Maria Sanchez

      Thank you Rebecca. I just linked back to this blog post. It really resonated with me and reminded me of the role we serve to a younger/newer generation of military spouses. http://militaryesposa.blogspot.com/

  3. Meshia Moore

    I needed this today. you said it perfectly with "Every day, even the worst day of every deployment, has been worth it because I've been able to call him mine." Deployments never get easier, but one thing I can say is that the love we share is beyond measure. And the hardships of the military life have had a lot to do with building such strength in our marriage. This was absolutely beautiful! I thank you for this!

  4. HayleySon

    This is my first deployment with my husband. I see what you mean by naivete. It is kind of nice to be naive, but being unsure is really what's biting me.

    1. Rebecca

      You will learn so much during this time! Don't let it bite you, and don't be afraid to ask another spouse or ACS a question if you have it. I'll keep you in my thoughts!

  5. Holly

    Thank you so much for this …. what a ride this life has been! We've been married almost 24 years and he's been home around 11 (normal Army stuff- schools, field problemsetc, two tours to Korea and 4 in Iraq – first tour to Korea extended because of the Gulf War and the first in Iraq as well!) … I remember MARS grams the first time he was in Korea! 🙂 His first tour in Iraq he had just arrived and called to tell me and then I had to wait two nerve wracking hours to find out if he was ok as we were disconnected almost immediately due to an attack on their position! I admit sometimes I am not as sympathetic nor as patient as I should be with younger wives but I try!.. I think too of our older sisters who weathered previous wars without any of our "necessary" accoutrements. Remembering them gave me comfort during hard times! Beautifully written!! Thank you again my sister …

    1. Anonymous

      It's really amazing how things have changed. I agree, sometimes the younger ones can frost my cookies, but I remember that once I was that naive too. I'm so lucky to have had terrific seasoned spouses to be my role models! And I'm all about this internet we have! No more MRE post cards or saying "over" into Satellite phones! Yay!

  6. The Kellys

    Oh Rebecca, how I wish I were closer so we could hang out or just go try out some land nav again! Plus, now that I have kids, I realize what a nice break going to the store alone would be. I'm sure our kids would keep each other busy. :)This brought back all of the memories of standing in that gym, unable to think of anything to say, feeling as though I was going to break in half. I know Tim is proud of his deployment and the guys that he was there with, but I'm also glad to have him back. Oof…my heart is hurting just thinking about it.I think about how my mom must have felt when my dad went to Vietnam. She went months without even a letter, maybe had 2 phone calls, and dealt with the reality that most of the planes that took off from where my dad was located were shot down. So very scary.Stay strong my friend! And thank you, as always, for sharing your heart!

  7. AdamsLoyalWife06

    You phrased it perfectly. I am the wife of a wounded warrior husband who has spent more time in the last 30 months hospitalized than home it seems, and again we are in the midst of a 5-8 month hospitalization 1000+ miles away and we only speak but on occasion. Though despite his own hand, he is not in harms way, we have many times compared his hospital stays to deployments. Thank you for writing such an amazing alliteration of the feelings of separation, for today was the first day his pillowcase didn't quite smell the same anymore.

    1. Anonymous

      I will keep you in my thoughts! It's hard whenever they're away. We were blessed that Jason's injuries were treatable at our base's hospital, and you have my utmost prayers!

    2. AdamsLoyalWife06

      Today I found a new level of down. My husband is on the verge of quitting rehab/recovery because it's too difficult. I'm scared and a wreck. Idk what to do, but reading your blogs is making at least not feel alone. Thank you! :'(

    3. Anonymous

      You're so not alone! I'm so sorry that you're having a rough time with it, and I can only hope that you come to a decision that brings comfort and peace to your family.

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