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missions vs. military

July 10, 2011

Richard was an American four-year-old with a bald spot. He had a bald spot because he had trichotillomania. When he was nervous, he had a habit of pulling out his hair in one spot above his forehead. He lived on a military base in Spain with his two older sisters, mom who was in the military, and dad who was not.

One day when I was his camp counselor, he would not come down from the slide when it was time to go inside. My training hadn’t prepared me for how to get sad children off of playground equipment. I yelled at him and regret it. Later that week, I learned that his older sister had confided in his counselor that his dad had left. As in, his dad told his family he couldn’t handle the stress any more, and he left his family and went back to the U.S.

Well, that should explain why he pulled out his hair and wanted to stay by himself outside.

It also showed me how stressful life can be for people in the military. I’ve heard countless stories of spouses separated for months or years while one is serving somewhere. A friend’s son and his son’s wife, who are both in the military, saw each other every three months when they served in different cities in the Middle East.

The upcoming stresses of what we’ve chosen to do are mild compared to what so many military members sign up for.

  • We–John, me, and Little D–will be together almost every day. John’s trips away will be brief and infrequent. We will probably live in our own house.
  • We are going to a place where people are generally friendly toward Americans. This is largely due to World War II, when our military fought against Japanese occupation of the Solomon Islands.
  • We can tell our families and friends exactly what we’re doing and where we are.
  • If things get really bad and we want to quit, we can do so at any time we want without penalty.

Thank you to all our military men and women, who go through stresses I can’t even imagine.

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