Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Purported "man of the cloth's" intent to burn the Quran

World Leaders Denounce Plans for Quran Burning at US-Church

Renee's take on this horrible issue, and the gist of the letter I sent to Pastor Terry Jones:

I am very disturbed by this matter. Unexceptable acts on the part of Americans that jeopardize service members and military missions are not about free speach. It's about safety.  My letter follows:

Pastor Terry Jones
Dove Center
5805 Northwest 37th Street
Gainesville, FL 32653
(352) 371-2487

I am retired military, but more than that, I am an Army wife whose husband, who has already been to Iraq 4 times, has to watch him deploy again next year. Don’t do something to cause innocent Islamic citizens, both in the United States and abroad, to either not cooperate with service members, or, at worst, to lash out viciously at my husband and other service members. Our military has enough to worry about.

1. The Quran does not just represent extremists; it also represents peaceful, innocent citizens.

2. The bible does not just represent peaceful, innocent citizens; it also represents extremists, such as the KKK and other groups, who use it to justify their horrible views and deeds, yet no one is burning bibles.

3. It is not productive, and I am ashamed that another American, a man of the cloth who is supposed to set the good example of what kind of a person to be, is resorting to such an ignorant and thoughtless act. Resolving not to burn the Quran is not resorting to passivity. It is simply more productive, and mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier to be the better person; rather than fostering hate, use this situation to teach love of the world, and that even people who claim to be Christians can be horrible, and do horrible things, but that most of the world, is not horrible in that way.

4. Sell your book. Don’t burn the book that also represents the innocent.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Afghanistan will be here soon; deployment bubbles and other intangibles

We don't have a date yet.  Afghanistan will have to be content with the back burner until we are given a deployment date.  In the mean time, Afghanistan is also on our back burner, always in the back of my mind, catching my eye in the headlines, stealing my attention in military discussions... Sapper has 4 deployments to Iraq under his belt, not including an unaccompanied year at the former Camp Howse near the DMZ in Korea. Never-the-less, it isn't deployment, per se, that befuddles me-I'll cross that bridge, once again, when I get to it. No, these days, in the time between that next deployment and that time when soldiers are, theoretically, supposed to be "recovering" and healing from the last one, supposedly "reintegrating" into regular, American, civilian life, not only are they preparing other units to deploy as well as themselves, (field exercises and long hours at ranges, for example), they're just not really at home. I don't know what others' experiences are, but much of the time, it's like still being a single parent: running the household, managing medicines, appointments, yard work, killing wasps, dealing with freezer repairmen, responding when the school calls, and all other household duties, in addition to trying to manage one's own needs (not very good at that yet) on my own, except this other ghost in a uniform comes home from the field or whatever other duty now and then. 

I've found that I actually do deployment quite well, once the initial hit wears off-once the first few weeks of near-overwhelming tears subside and regular life takes over.  I get into my routine, which I've pretty much maintained the entire time Sapper has been home anyway, and I'm fine.  No, it's this business in between deployments that has me in bubbles, brick silos, or what ever you want to call it. Since Sapper came back from Korea, he hasn't truly been ours. Well, the Army lets us have him from time to time, but, the time between deployments in past years, used to actually belong to the family. Soldiers will always carry their combat wounds (physical and mental) but these days, it seems like even when he's home, there's still one foot out the door.  He says he wants to be with us, do something, whatever, but spends a lot of time in some sort of man-cave. Barking dogs, a running laundry machine, and kids-being-kids-doing-what-kids-do put him on edge these days. Don't invite him to the hockey game-it's more than he can handle.  Do I ask him if he can be at the house when the youngest gets off the bus one day, or if he can cover an appointment so I can handle another obligation?  Do I ask him to stop in at the pharmacy to pick up a refill?

Most days, I just handle all the daily and non-daily household, child, and other tasks, chores, and errands myself. It's what I'm used to doing. It's easier. Or, maybe that's a cop-out.  But most of the time, even if he has a day off, I just go about my business. If one of the boys has an appointment, we just go.  If I need someone here when the youngest gets off the bus, I arrange something with a neighbor. That's what my routine has been for nearly a decade. Sometimes it doesn't even cross my mind to see if Sapper is available that day, or if he wants to go to that appointment. To my defense, though, some days it just doesn't seem like he has anything to give. So don't ask.

So, anyway, according to Abraham-Hicks, these are all upstream thoughts. How does one move from these upstream thoughts to downstream thoughts? I'm sure life would feel better going downstream-paddling upstream is such hard work, and, as I'm told, there's nothing that we want upstream. I get the analogy; I just can't figure out how to apply it to specific situations. Is downstream focussing on solutions? Or is downstream simply letting things go? Not focusing on them? Or is it focusing only on happy things?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2010 Pawtoberfest

Ren's Pawtoberfest Web Page-support fur, feathers, scales and slithering things! 

Go to my Pawtober Fest Page to pledge your support-I'm taking my dog Sienna, and I know she'll make it, but it's going to be a workout!!

Renee's position on Iraq and President Obama's address

I know there is still much turmoil among Americans regarding continued war and service members affected by constant deployments, ongoing training and the non-stop OPTEMPO (operations tempo, which increases with the intensity of and number of operations).  Tensions run high for all of us, and no one is immune, especially those in military families.  What I want to express here, however, is that I believe that we will occupy Iraq for a very LONG time to come, due to the fact that Iraq continues to be on "wobbly legs," and will continue to be susceptible to terrorists inclined to take advantage of those wobbly legs, set up shop, and make Iraq a terrorist haven, yet again. Iraq, as President Obama indicated in his address, Iraq still does not have a government in place. Iraq is a nation in recovery, not so unlike Germany and Korea after World War II.  In addition to the atrocities of Hitler and his regime, Germany had suffered terrible losses: its cities were in ruins from the bombings toward the end of World War II, and agricultural production was only 35% of what it was before the war.  The US occupation of Korea also began after World War II, and anyone who has visited Korea can attest to the fact that some South Korean highways are lined with foxholes and trenches, and many of their bridges and overpasses are ready to be destroyed quickly in the event of a North Korean invasion.

Now that activity has declined in Germany and Korea, bases have been closing over the past 15 years. What this means for Iraq is that combat operations cease, and the United States will operate as an occupying entity, not unlike our occupations of Germany and Korea. Though, like Korea, it is unlikely that the vast majority of tours in Iraq will evolve to include families in the near future. 

So, where do we go from here?

I recently heard Fort Carson Commander, Major General David Perkins talking of resilience. The Army is trying to determine why two individuals who experience the same trauma may be affected by it differently. One may be totally in shock, and may develop post traumatic stress symptoms. The other brushes off his pants and keeps right on going. The Army is training both soldiers and spouses to be resilient, to be the one who wipes off his or her hands and keeps on living, and living well. The Army has even implemented a Master Resilience Trainer Course with the motto "Strong Minds, Strong Bodies."

I want to get on that "band wagon." I want to be the resilient one.  I am a retired soldier, as well as an Army wife, whose Sapper just reached his 20 year milestone. We chose this life, knowing full well there is sacrifice, but more than that, we chose this life BECAUSE OF THE SACRIFICE. Because this sacrifice gives to our lives something bigger than ourselves. Life meaning, which cannot be belittled by the purpose of "receiving a paycheck," or anything else. I must admit also that the 20 years I spent in uniform does not even begin to compare to the OPTEMPO my Sapper has experienced over the past ten years. I used to think we had it good compared to our grandparents who did not hear from their service members for years at a time during the early wars. After all, they did not have satellite phone, Yahoo Messenger and web cams, and the most extraordinary postal system in the world. Istill think things are better for todays' Army families. But I think this is all relative to the time. Our parents' and grandparents' hardships and benefits were relative to their life experiences and demands. Our hardships and benefits are relative to our life experience. You cannot truly compare them because the variables are not the same. The economy is radically different.  Really, it is like comparing apples and oranges, despite the similarities in how the early wars affected service members. Never-the-less, I have to constantly remind myself that I would have this life with my Sapper (which now includes PTSD, TBI, both our bad habits and a lifetime of emotional baggage) over any other life without him, even if it means facing total sacrifice on his part. I'll be able to hold my head high.

And when I'm feeling negative, angry, or depressed, it is people who critisize, who do not truly know the issues or understand the big picture, and who refuse to see all the good that is accomplished, who get me back on my personal bandwagon, return me to my personal place of spirited determination, and remind me of my higher purposes. Just because the OPTEMPO has changed, that doesn't mean our life purpose has changed, and sometimes, yes, I whine, and I need to be reminded to keep my eye on the ball-that ball that was our life purpose. If you ask my Sapper, he will tell you that he is not ready to leave active duty yet. He truly still enjoys his job, despite the aches of a non-stop OPTEMPO or anything else Army life has to dish out. Warrior spirit still thrives inside him, and I honestly cannot see him doing anything else, not at this point in time, even if I had a job earning six figures. Sapper still loves his job. It still gives him that higher purpose that many of us seek. How many of us only wish to find our life purpose?

And who knows? Maybe some day in my lifetime, Iraq will be safe enough to allow Army families to travel with their service members on tours in the same way they have to Germany and Turkey. I would love to see that part of the world some day, a place with some of the oldest and greatest history of mankind.