Exploring my history being raised as a Military Brat – 1950s and 1960s

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Back in earlier days of internet, a website called Military Brats Registry came into being. I found my way there somehow and I truly don’t remember how and registered. Remember this was the ‘early days’ of internet, so formatting websites, forms, signing up and security looked a little different then. Later I heard media reporting on Military Brats Registry and how it was gaining in popularity. It was good to hear, cause it meant many ‘military brats’ were interested and glad for this new found home on the internet.
Along the years, I learned of dvd production in the works and waited and waited and waited. Finally dvd ‘Brats, Our Journey Home’ was released and I promptly bought a copy. Or I should say my dear husband promptly bought a copy as gift for me. We watched it together as soon as it arrived in the mail. And it resonated with me so strongly in so many ways. I took notes (that’s my nature when I’m really interested in both capturing and remembering) and spent some time today revisiting some of those older military brat sites I remember from late 1990s.

I wanted to chronicle the links, websites, books, resources and I really didn’t want to start a whole new blog to do it. So I looked around at all my blogs, and decided this one was the most logical place to spend some time chronicling my military brat history and building link connections. I’ll be adding some link banners to the sidebar, and blogging new entries in what will seem my own homecoming exploration.

This is a bittersweet project for me to undertake for a multitude of reasons, yet it will also be strengthening to make the connections, all the ‘aha’ moments that tell me more about who I am to me. My parents divorced when I was about 14 which abruptly ended our connection to military life. Unfortunately, it was an ugly divorce that my father worked to obstruct. He could get quite mean in his effort to control or manipulate the circumstances. He kept and/or destroyed all the mementos, photographs, slides, keepsakes, etc that were our history over those years. As a consequence, my mother doesn’t have much she can share visually, and neither do I except what I can recover from my spotty memory. It helps that other military brats are sharing their memories as it serves as ‘triggers’ for me in remembering and in what I hope to chronicle here at this blog.

Deersong

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Photo says it all – Iraq Veteran home on leave, with his 2 little ones

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And lastly the photo that tears at my heart.. Let’s go home, son… after 15 long months at war, yes, take your family home, soldier. I will continue to do my tiny bit to help turn the tide so you don’t find yourself back in Iraq in a 2nd deployment. I will do my tiny bit so the soldiers fighting there now can be brought home.

Deersong

Joinings and Separations

Joinings and Separations
Posted on August 11, 2004

[Next Day]

We are gearing up for an eventful weekend. We will be driving son-in-law to the airport to return to his base in Germany on Sunday. He is stateside with his family on Leave, after 15 months in Iraq, and needs to return to his base on 15th. The plan is that the family (my daughter and 3 children) are to fly out a few days later to relocate in Germany. The wound in the plan is that one of the children, 12 yr old will not be going with them, rather remaining behind to go live with her bio father for couple years. The wound in that is very painful to me and a long, complex story.

There is wedding on one of my nephews on Saturday evening, out of town, about 150 miles. We need to return same evening as my husband is scheduled to give the sermon in church this Sunday. It was my turn last Sunday and his turn this Sunday. We then drive back out of town to take son-in-law to airport about 200 miles away. Then a few days later to drive his wife and 2 children to airport and at that point is when my 12 yr old granddaughter goes in a different direction. I think it will be a very difficult weekend for us ahead.

There will be the joy of the wedding and seeing family, and the sorrow in saying goodbye to other family and the wound of the separation for my granddaughter.

I am plainly speaking very unhappy with how this is playing out for my daughter’s family as the plan has always been for the past 18 months while he has been deployed, for him to come home safely from Iraq, and then get the entire family moved over to Germany. At no point along the way was there even the slightest consideration that my 12 yr old granddaughter would not be going with her family. Her bio father has steadfastly maintained that he will not sign the permission release that is required by law to obtain her passport. He is unmoveable on that issue and has instead wanted daughter to remain behind and live with him.

I have found that to be uncharitable and very much a destructive force on the family, as well as not in keeping with civilian duty to support the military families while their soldiers are on the warfront in Iraq. It never entered my thinking that his resistance to signing the permission for her to go would win out in the end. He was in an unfortunate situation where he was hospitalized recently for damage he sustained to his skull…and we are given to understand it was indeed, a close call. That incident has been used to garner an unfair emotional leverage regarding his daughter’s empathy for what has been told to her was his near-death experience. She has reacted with authentic feelings of loss, confusion and compliance and agreed to remain behind and live with him.

The wound is that she is making the sacrifice as she is aware that the family desires to relocate to Germany and her bio-father will not give the necessary permission to facilitate obtaining her passport to go out of country. She seems to be making a decision to unburden her family, her mother, her sister and brother, her step-father so that they may make this relocation and be together after 18 months separated. She seems to be making a decision of compassion regarding her bio-father.

The wound to me is that the decision was placed on her small shoulders and not resolved by the adult parents. The wound to me is the burdens she will bear in being separated from her family and alone in a completely different environment with her bio-father and his fiance. The wound to me is what anquish she may have at 3 AM in the morning when she is all alone with herself and her thoughts and her grief of loss. The wound to me is that in this rock and hard place decision forced on the family, it was the 12 yr old who is forced to bear the biggest burden and biggest sacrifice.

I have advocated my own position with regards to other less attractive alternatives, like the family remaining behind and enduring another separation…which in itself is an unfair burden to the small ones in the family, ages 3 and 4 yrs, who are missing out on the influence of their father during these critical formative years. My daughter has had to make some impossible choices, and I respect that as much as I can, yet, my heart yearned for her to decide on a choice that kept the family together and as intact as possible even while a heavy burden fell to her to deal with raising 3 children in the absence of her husband and partner.

After helping to support her and the children during this 15 months of her husband’s deployment, following events as they unfolded on the political horizon with regards to the progression of the war in Iraq, at the last moment, it seems, when he was at last safely home, there is this no win situation with unlikely choices to be made, and tensions were running high in us all. Needless to say, there has been a kind of boiling over of emotions, an untimely falling out of sorts over the choices being made and I am not feeling exceptionally wise or like a tribal elder in the matter. Well perhaps I am at that, and perhaps as such, I am feeling the acute ache of having to give counsel in exceedingly difficult double-bind type situation.

For now, I am keeping my silent vigil, as all the words have been spoken and said, the decisions made after all have had their turn to say their thoughts and feelings. I feel this is how it might have been for others in other cultures when facing forces greater than their own ability to manage or control or realign. And at this point I turn in my own woundedness to the Creator force for strength, courage, endurance, and wisdom in matters that seem beyond my own abilities to discern or determine.

Deersong