Military Mama: Cruise Control

Cruise Control

By Jade Stone

Have you ever just felt like your life was on cruise control?

You know, when everything is moving, not too fast, not too slow, no oncoming traffic or obstacles to maneuver but rather just cruising along watching everything fall into place? Well so far, that’s how pre-deployment training has been.

It’s certainly had its pitfalls, but it seems we’ve formed some sort of obscure routine that oddly enough for now seems to work.

Jay is basically gone during the week and gets to come home on the weekends most of the time. The only problem is the 5-hour drive each way to his duty station. We’ve been living somewhat “back and forth” for about 3 months now and this pre-deployment has been so much easier compared to the first deployment.  The first time we went through this, he spent 6 months away during which time we saw him twice. I’ll take this situation any day!

Unfortunately, in that 3 months’ time, I’ve had lots of opportunity to contemplate the effects this next deployment might have on Jay. Quite honestly, I am a little worried, especially in light of recent events concerning the soldier who snapped and went on a killing spree. I shuddered the first time I heard about it because that could easily have been my brother who suffers severely from PTSD. It could have been my own husband for goodness sake!

Each traumatic event that soldiers face has a cumulative effect. They all deal with those effects very differently. Some will quietly put the pain, anger and frustration into a closet and close the door because quite frankly, there is no time to mourn or process what just happened when duty calls. Eventually that closet fills up until the door explodes open on innocent bystanders, unleashing the terrible ugly monsters he or she has been hiding from for months or even years.

Sometimes those bystanders are a spouse, or the children, other times its turned inward on themselves at which time suicide can be a serious concern.  It is impossible to fully understand the kind of pain and agony many of the soldiers who return experience without either living with them or having experienced it for one’s self.

Do all soldiers go through this? No, everyone handles things differently. However the atrocities that our men and women in uniform experience while overseas are not likely to be something easily dealt with. Nor is it something that will go away overnight.

My brother returned from Iraq 4 years ago and still suffers from the same nightmares that began plaguing him upon his return. Nearly every night he can be found in the bathroom washing his hands in his sleep and repeating “I just can’t get the blood out”. You can’t wake or soothe him, but rather just make sure he has no firearms at his disposal. He appears awake but I assure you, he is not.

My brother relieves a certain scene from his past that will haunt him until he dies. He has gone through extensive therapy and things have gotten better however the nightmares remain, and his ability to handle his frustration and hostility in certain situations does rear its ugly head from time to time. I cannot possibly imagine what he might have done if he’d have been sent back.

Had it not been for breaking his back while there, he was slated to ride the next ship out of the states within 6 months of returning. You can’t tell me we don’t abuse our soldiers, not after watching the way we treat them and the manner in which we set them up to explode, only to turn around and say “We had no idea anything was going on.” 

So yes, I am concerned about Jay’s next venture to Afghanistan and how it will affect him. It would be naïve to believe that he will not be affected at all. He doesn’t sit in an office but rather is part of a dust off unit which is responsible for medical retrievals so he will certainly be in the thick of it from time to time.

The best I can hope for is that when he does come home, he will not deploy again. We will just pick up the pieces where they lay and try to put them back together again. But I suppose we will cross that bridge when we get to it. Until that time comes, I am pretty content to just be on Cruise Control!

Jade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.

*Photo by merfam via Flickr