February 10, 2012

Stop Stirring and Start Talking

By now, many of you have probably read a certain Army Wife from Vermont's self-admitted blog rant about the differences she sees between active Army and Guardsmen. To say it was one-sided would be kind. She relegated the entire Vermont Army National Guard to no better than uneducated, step-child status...in fact, she made it clear that they are classless, prone to PTSD, sacrifice less and aren't even "soldiers."

I'm a Guardsman's wife so I clearly am biased but as much as I'd like to return fire for fire...and I could especially considering most of her contentions were factually wrong, it's pointless. She's clearly an "upper" and it wouldn't do any good. So, I'm ignoring her and addressing the rest of the military blogging community. Instead of attacking an entire branch of the US military, why can't we have a grown up discussion over the differences. 

Every branch is different. 

Every branch makes sacrifices the others don't. 

Every branch has perks the others don't.

As a Guard family, my husband will, over the course of his career, most likely deploy less frequently than an active duty Army family. We knew that when he joined. It's one of the reasons he went Guard. Although, let's be honest, the idea that it will be four years before he deploys again is almost laughable...actually it is laughable because once he returns he's only considered non-deployable for two and a half years. And then, of course, you have to take into consideration the bill proposed by President Obama which will shrink the military 10-15% over the next ten years. When asked how the military will compensate for the inevitable troop shortage, Obama has said the federal government will rely more heavily on Guard and Reserve components. Now, if you want to talk about how Guard units are first and foremost a state militia....how they should be at home protecting the interests of the state and not abroad fighting for the federal government, that's a valid contention. That's something we can discuss. But let's be honest, that's not the current situation. Right now, Guard and Reserve units fight and die next to active duty units every day.

Another difference: PCSing. We don't. Active duty families do. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to pack up and move every three years. How much of a strain that must be on children and the military spouse's career. But I can also see it as an exciting way to travel the country, even the world. As a Guard family, we don't PCS to another base...in fact, we don't live anywhere near a base. The two closest military installations are both Air Force bases and each over an hour away. To make it to a monthly FRG meeting my kids and I have to drive up to three hours each way...for a meeting that generally lasts less than two hours but we do it because our every day lives are surrounded by civilians who often just don't understand and that short window every month we're with people who know what we know and feel what we feel.

Which brings me to the last difference I'm going to write about today: civilian jobs. It's true active duty guys don't come home to civilian lives. They're surrounded by the Army their entire careers. When my husband returns from his deployment, he'll go back to work for a civilian company. He'll be at a job where people won't understand why in the beginning he might flinch when there's a loud noise. We live with the knowledge that although there's legal protection for his civilian job, there's also an economic reality and a Guardsman cannot always give what a civilian can give to a civilian job. The fact is promotions can be negatively affected. It's understandable too from the employers perspective.

We constantly live in two worlds. That doesn't make us classless. That doesn't make my husband more likely to have PTSD when he returns. That doesn't make our sacrifices any less. That doesn't make us less than an active duty Army family. It makes us different. 


Nicole said...

Well, according to this wife..I'm even lower than you. Since my husband is non-deployable we are SUPER LOW on the military totem pole!

Great post :)

Ericka Vanoni said...


Hollye said...

Have so many things I'd like to say in response to that wife's blog. Unfortunately, my upbringing and general good manners prohibits me from doing so.

SFC's Wife said...

Thank you very much for posting this! I agree, every branch is different, and there are definite differences between AD Army and NG Army. And I couldn't agree with you more that there are benefits to both types of service. Ultimately, each soldier/family chooses for themselves which type of service will best fit their lives. Each side makes different sacrifices. This doesn't make NG classless, and it doesn't make AD "Hooah" over-achievers. We are who we are.

Thanks again! GREAT post!

Angie R. said...

Love your post!! My hubby is NG as well, and there are so many differences that he and I both see because he was AD Marine Corps straight out of high school. He served his 5 yrs with the Marines, and stepped back into the civilian world eventually working on a Marine base. He is awaiting OCS and will be leaving for 2 mths this summer, the first time we have ever been apart more than a week. Glad I found your blog!!!