Son’s Deployment Brings War Home

By • Oct 12th, 2009 • Category: Civilian Support, Guard/Reserve Issues, In the Press, Parenting, Passing the Time, Relationships

By Joel Brown / Argus Leader

Being the father of a deployed soldier has been eye-opening.Ryan Brown

As a political conservative, I had grown accustomed to cheering for the USA in conflicts overseas. I had my own thoughts on Sept. 11, 2001, and supported the wars in two countries that have followed.

I haven’t wavered as a patriot, but then something hit home. My grown son, Ryan, called his mom and me.

He was going to join the Army National Guard in Portland, Ore., where he lives and works.

It probably took him more courage to call us than it did for him to sign up in the first place.

I think my wife’s first reaction sums up a lot of parental exclamations: “You did what?”

That was followed by: “Are you kidding? Did you talk to your wife about this? Can we talk about this (as in can we talk about this until we can talk you out of it)?”

You get the picture. It was a shock because military service had skipped my family for my generation.

And as long as it was someone else’s son or daughter, war was held at arm’s length. It wasn’t our fight.

Now it is.

He’s in Baghdad as an Army cavalry scout. Specifically, he does security for visiting dignitaries.

That’s B-A-G-H-D-A-D. The place where the enemy fires grenades and blows up car/truck bombs and generally wants to kill anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

It’s a dangerous place even though U.S. troops have withdrawn from the daily dangers in the urban landscape.

My son says he’s OK even with temperatures as high as 128 degrees. (It’s a dry heat, so don’t worry, Mom.) His wife says he won’t do anything to endanger his safety – not with her, a baby boy and a good career as a civil engineer back home.

But what about the other guys?

Proud as heck of him, the Army and the U.S., we worry. We pray. We think about him all the time.

But as time wears on, reactions to us being a military family have emerged.

My wife and I have been heartened, and at times disappointed, in the support we have found.

On one hand, I recently had a stranger – a cashier at a Taco John’s in Lincoln, Neb. – tell me to tell my son for her and all of Taco John’s that they are proud of him and his service.

I’ve had people at airports stop me to say the same things and tell me about their sons and daughters and nieces and nephews.

On the other hand, I’ve had close friends and family members who don’t even mention my son’s name and never ask us how we are coping.

I’ve formulated five levels of support that people tend to have.

Entry level: Many are interested and supportive of the man – my son – as in, “We are really behind him and his decision to serve.” Support doesn’t go far, but it’s a first step many can’t take because of vehement opposition to the military and/or war.

Secondary level: Support for him and his friends. When my wife and I went to visit Ryan, we met some of the other guys in his unit. Those guys had become his friends – men he has to depend on to watch his back.

Third level: This country is the greatest in all the world’s history. Maybe we support free enterprise, freedoms unequaled in history. We cherish the land, are proud to wave a flag and stand for the national anthem.

Fourth level: Support the military in general. Right or wrong, this country is in it and should finish it. This is a sticking point for the 50 percent of Americans who, believing most of the media, have lost their zeal for justice, have forgotten 9-11 and have begun getting that feeling that all war is useless.

Fifth level: The war is justified, right and needed. They justify these foreign wars because of continued terrorist attacks on us and the vow by our enemies that they will not give up.

For me, I stand behind my son and the cause that he risks his life for – freedom. I’ve had to focus on that moment to moment because it’s so important.

See original article here.

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is of the opinion that re-deployment is harder than deployment itself. The year Paul and I spent apart was tough, but nothing could have prepared me for trying to come back together again. Homecoming was full of challenges I never expected - no matter how many books I read!
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