“My husband works in Midland. He’s on third shift. We don’t see each other a whole lot. Actually, we don’t see each other for about five days at a time…awake, that is.”
“Wow, that sucks.”
“It does, especially because we live with each other. Seems remarkable that this is the situation in which we find ourselves.”
So, this is how this conversation went about three years ago.
“My boyfriend is deployed right now. He’s in Afghanistan. We don’t see each other a whole lot. Actually, we don’t see each other for many days at a time…unless it’s on Skype, that is.”
“Oh wow! That’s awful. It must be so difficult knowing that he’s there and being away from each other for so long. He’s so brave…thank him so much for his service.”
“It is hard but I know he’s mostly safe on-base and he gets two weeks of R&R soon. So, I have that to look forward to!”
“Absolutely. Our hearts and prayers are with you! If you need anything, let us know!”
Note: this is not me in any way saying anything negative or remotely unappreciative of our military and veterans. I am overcome with gratitude for everything they do for us every day. Being a veteran’s wife is one of the highest honors I could ever receive and I’m so very proud of my veteran.
That being said, I am also grateful for the truck drivers, the farmers, non-profit workers, construction workers, firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, teachers and medical professionals that spend countless hours leading to days away from their families.
We may not see these kinds of people as being in the same situation as our military personnel: the imminent danger, the harsh conditions, the long shifts, the overwhelming sense of duty… Wait, why not? Transportation and material moving jobs yielded nearly 1,300 deaths in 2014. As of October 1, 2015, there have been 2,326 military deaths, of which, approximately 1,800 were hostile-related. Total work-related civilian deaths surged over 4,500 last year.
We often forget to be supportive to the men and women and their families that enable us to live the lives that we do, much like our military. I think back fondly of the support I received as a girlfriend of a deployed US Marine and I really could use some of that encouragement nowadays. The environment in which my husband works is still dangerous, albeit not by the threat of enemies’ weapon fire but it is. The drive to work, the chemicals and materials he works around, the heavy machinery which he sticks his fleshy extremities into so they can be fixed…it’s still fucking scary.
When he was deployed, we really did get to Skype so often that I realize I probably talked to him more then than I’m able to now. Between our sleep and work schedules, dog care, groceries, laundry, dishes and such…I’m not really sure how everything happens because we rarely get to do any of these things together.
It’s extremely difficult in a marriage, any marriage, old or new, to not see each other but once every five days. To pass through each others’ lives in the same house like ghosts. It’s very difficult to maintain closeness in this situation.
What I’m trying to say, my beloved people, is that it’s not just our military wives and our active military that need our attention. When these people separate from the military, it’s so critical that they have a system in place to support and love and catch them when they falter. Society thinks that once integrated into civilian life that they’re ok and things are normalized.
Individuals having never been in the military need a support system, as well. Truck drivers that have been away from their families for a month have the same kind of missing in their hearts that military men and women do. The distance doesn’t change the feeling and the environment doesn’t make it any less real.
So please. Never ever forget our vets and never ever normalize the danger our blue-collar men and women face every day, either. They are not apples and oranges. They’re hanging from the same tree.