I think the one thing the military always forgets when dealing with the families is the sheer fact none of us asked to be here. We were DRAFTED! We were all living our lives normally and then poof one day we get a phone call that changes it all and we find out we've got to leave home. What we don't find out for months is that we've actually been drafted to heal soldiers from the wounds of war.
When you are dealing with a traumatic injury all you want to do is take your injured service member and take them home. You want to hide them away and protect them from everything and everyone. I know all I wanted to do was bring Chaz home and heal my family. Instead we had to leave our house and lives behind to live in DC to heal him. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I would give anything to go back to January 21 and warn Chaz, but I can't. I can only move forward with my family.
I have had a traumatic injury. I have had surgeries and I have been in ICU myself. All of which happened before I met Chaz. I don't know what I would have done without my family. After each of those events my family took me home from the hospital to heal, but the military doesn't let you do that. You have to make a temporary home where you are so you can heal your soldier. The military asks us to go against everything that we instinctively know.
There's no way I'd be anywhere but here next to my husband. In my mind, I signed up for this. I agreed to stand next to him in sickness and health, til death do us part. I may not have enlisted in the Army but I did vow to stand by my husband. To me that enlistment is way more important. But what about our soldiers who don't have spouses?
We ask moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins and friends to leave their lives behind to be here and serve our country by healing a soldier wounded by war. They didn't sign up anything. They were going to work and living their lives and then the effects of war struck them in the form of a phone call. The military quickly tells them to pack their bag and get on a plane to come be by the bedside. What they don't tell them is we are asking them to join the team to help heal the warrior. We forget to tell them we are going to ask you to leave everything behind. There's a chance you'll be here 2-4 years. And most importantly this road may be the hardest road you'll ever travel. We ask the caregivers to love these men and women unconditionally and heal all their wounds and help them navigate the system. For some it is too much and they leave. For some they stand fight.
We fail these families because we do not educate them on system they are entering. The majority of the caregivers who are called here to serve have no military experience. They are thrust into all of this and we seriously leave them to sink or swim. We leave them out in the middle of the ocean without a paddle and tell them to figure it out. This journey is exhausting and so very hard.
While you are an in-patient so many people come through and give you their business cards and they tell you to contact them if you need help. What you don't know is if you talk to the wrong person someone is going to yell at you and your soldier for jumping chain of command. The funny thing is the military forgets the average civilian has no idea what chain of command means. They know what their Congressperson is supposed to do for them because they are your elected official. Your family needs help and you're not getting it where are you supposed to turn?!
So we draft these families in to help us and we set them up for failure?! We don't send our soldiers in to battle to fail. No we send them in to win. Shouldn't we apply this same theory to the families we draft to help us win the war at home?