Back from war in Iraq
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By Sarah Sattelberg
Deployment is a word Army families know all too well. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars separate spouses and families every other year. Learning to be a couple again after 365 days apart brings new meaning to the promise of “for better or for worse” made at the altar.
Waiting to welcome a soldier home leaves a stomach filled with beautiful nervous anticipation that can only be felt with matters of the heart. The last weeks of waiting are always the hardest. The time ticks away making each hour feel like an eternity. The house is cleaner than if an O.C.D. individual was doing it.
Most women welcoming their husbands home get a tan, buy a new outfit or take a trip to the beauty salon, so when their trooper sees them for the first
time, they look better than ever.
Finally, the phone rings and a homecoming date is revealed. The division headquarters is bursting with the excitement of a hundred families who can’t wait to have their soldier in their arms once again.
Music blasts from loud speakers, and people dance the electric slide on the field. Soldier’s buses leave the airfield.
A convoy of white buses pulls up to division headquarters and cheering erupts. It’s an Extreme Home Makeover moment, as the soldiers form up behind the vehicles they rode in on. All one can think is “Move that bus!”
The buses pull away and a formation of weary yet excited soldiers proudly march toward their biggest fans.
The general says “Dismissed,” and everyone wades through a sea of Army combat uniforms to find their loved one. Today is butterflies and rainbows. It seems that life couldn’t be any better.
It would be nice to think the feeling of pure joy remains, but the reality is, it does not. A soldier’s return is as wonderful as it is hard. In the span of 12
months new experiences have caused personal growth. When this growth happens apart, a gap begins to form.
Suddenly, the realization is that each person in the marriage has changed in very different ways. The weak relationships fall apart for lack of knowing
how to bridge the space together. The strong couples work slowly but surely, finding new ways to fill the relationship gaps caused by deployment.
A spouse’s return from war can be an uphill battle full of unexpected obstacles. Every step of the journey is worth it. The end result is a marriage
that can weather any storm life throws its way.