Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wall Street Journal Shines Spotlight on Military Families at War

The December 13th front-page Wall Street Journal story carried the headline "Families at War: Military Clans Face Hardship as U.S. Fights on Two Fronts."
Life for military families used to be simpler. Fathers went off to war and left children behind. Children typically didn't go to war until after their parents retired from the armed forces. There were hardly any female troops.

Today, that calculus is being changed by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the lengthiest conflicts in American history, and the growing numbers of female military personnel. Military families now have parents, children and other close relatives serving in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously. The armed forces have growing numbers of married couples deployed to war zones at the same time.
How many of us who do not currently have family or close friends serving in the military have considered this "calculus"? To me it's an amazing picture of U.S. military forces today.

MRS. LIEUTENANT takes place in the spring of 1970. The Journal article states: "Female soldiers make up 13.7% of the Army, compared with 2.6% in 1973, when the military became an all-volunteer force."

In referring to families with multiple relatives serving in the armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the top U.S. commander in northern Iraq, is quoted as saying:
"It's a good thing, because it does show a family character of selfless service and patriotism. But it may be a bad thing because it's also fostering a society where a small group of citizens do most of the tough work."
I found this last sentence particularly compelling. I personally think that, more upsetting than a smaller group of citizens serving, is that this means there's even a larger group of citizens who are clueless as to the service of their fellow citizens.

One of the goals of both the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and this blog is to help more people understand the important role our military plays in the survival of our democratic country. And to understand who are the men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us to sleep at night.

Read the entire article yourself at the link below. But before you do, I want to share one more quote from the article. Given the rules that a Mrs. Lieutenant had to follow in 1970, this quote from a reverend officiating in September at a military wedding brought tears to my eyes: "With great joy, I now present to you, Lieutenants Eric and Claudia Donahue."

Read the entire article now.

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