Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Now here's a post out of the blue, but I was spurred on by something I read at another blog. I'm going to get a little bit preachy, but it's a point that I think a lot of people who haven't been there might miss. Part of the point is that military life is far more difficult than most people realize--it's not just blood and sweat, it's big on tears. And ennui.

Murf wrote of her disappointment in MilBloggers--that they suck her in with their tales of adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq, then disappoint her by tapering off when they return home and posting on the mundane, if they continue to post at all.

The dynamics of the return home are more complicated than most people realize, particularly for the married people. I'll address this from the male perspective since that covers the vast majority, but feel free to switch the roles--it works both ways.

When you deploy, your family life enters a sort of stasis. You go on to experience life-changing events, yes, but you expect to return home to the family you left 12 months ago. Meanwhile, your wife has 100% of the home responsibilities--paying bills, doing laundry, changing light bulbs, homework, diapers, mowing, changing oil, you name it. Not to mention the children are a year older, a significant period of time for a child. They grow in your absence. They change. You come home expecting to return to the family that you left, but in so many ways you don't. You and your family have both changed significantly.

This is what the guys are working with when they return home. The single guys may not have the wife/children issues, but they also struggle--with family, friends and society at large. The transition is intensely difficult.

Garrison life is rote and boring. You rotate through various "cycles". There's training cycle, during which you do soldierly things, school cycle during which you sit in classrooms trying not to fall asleep, and the much-loved post support cycle, during which you mow grass, whack weeds and rake straight lines into sand. Other than jumping out of airplanes (for the chosen few), there's not much excitement.

Civil War soldiers referred to going into combat as "seeing the elephant". Given that garrison life isn't particularly exciting at the best of times, imagine trying to find something interesting to convey to your readers once you've seen the elephant.

So sorry to those who've been disappointed by returning MilBloggers, but they have bigger issues than pleasing your vicarious interests.

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