Call to military life difficult in peace or war

By Anita Doberman: Lifestyles Columnist

People seem to have an uncontrollable desire to share their opinions about the war in Iraq with me, a simple yet exuberant military wife.

A conversation usually starts with questions such as, “Where is your husband right now?” and “When is he getting back?” It quickly progresses to heavier topics about the evils of this war and why we should pull the American military out as soon as possible, and culminates with the reasons why I must agree with these views, especially in light of the fact that my husband could loose his life fighting in this conflict.

Aside from my mother-in-law, who likes to make me angry just for the sake of it, I realize that people have good intentions. They tell me why I need to oppose this war because they are under the impression that once this conflict is over — forget the war in Afghanistan, not enough media coverage —my life, and that of countless military families will be completely different.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The end of a war doesn’t mean the end of a military lifestyle filled with uncertainties, separations and dangerous missions. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the media has extensively covered the sacrifices and difficulties families and deployed members have endured. At the same time, it has given the false impression that if the war in Iraq ended, we would no longer see families separated, that somehow normal military life wouldn’t include risky missions and long deployments.

While military men and women have harder and longer assignments during times of war, when media coverage stops, they still miss holidays, birthdays, deaths and important events. Military life is the same whether a story makes front-page news or goes unnoticed.

There is a difference between questioning the politics of a war and drawing the conclusion that when a conflict is over military members will answer the call to serve according to their own schedules, important as they are to all of us personally.

Being part of the military is a calling that doesn’t change because a political party comes into power or another one leaves.

I don’t discuss my political views about the war, although I probably just did with this column. I hear enough from people on both sides. I do like to talk about the practical aspects of our lifestyle and share what it’s like to be military family during times of war and peace.

I think that from now on, whenever someone asks me about my thoughts on the war, I will say that I am too busy keeping the house going and taking care of the children while my husband is fighting this controversial war to answer.

But, please do come to my house to talk about this issue at length while we fold some laundry and do the dishes.

And by the way, for the freedom to have this discussion in the comfort of our living rooms, a simple “thank you” to the men and women of the military will suffice.