When I met my husband he had just returned from his second deployment in Iraq. He is in the Army reserves and has been for some time. I remember sitting at our first date and he told me how much he loved being deployed. He had nothing holding him back in the states, he made more money being deployed, he loved what he did and it worked for him. I was a bit taken aback by the bluntness of it but we were on our first date so why would I care?
Fast forward to today and his perspective has changed quite a bit. His contract is up in 15 months and what once seemed to be a simple decision is not any longer. If he was deployed again, financially we would be in big trouble. Not to mention he is now leaving someone and a life behind. From so many years of deployment and Army his body is protesting against him and he would be probably be medically non-deployable as he needs a few surgeries.
To him Army retirement used to once be a goal he could hit but anymore that goal seems a long ways away and not even worth it. It requires more and more time away from his family and job than he would like and the politics/paperwork makes him crazy. I can tell you that when they say one weekend a month, 2 weeks a year, it is a lie. It is much more than that on top of his civilian 70 hour work week.
I’ve always left my opinion on the Army to myself. It is completely up to him at the end of the day and I will support him no matter what path he chooses. We even talked about him going full-time at one time. I think I would make a horrible full-time Army wife but I would have done it. Instead he applied for IRR which has a long definition that basically means he no longer has to go to drill. We wait for his contract to run out and hope he doesn’t get called up to deploy.
Today is his last day of drill. We sat at dinner last night and as much as he wants out I think it is hitting both of us. He is leaving men that are his best friends. Men he stood next to and trusted them to save his life. Men he has shared something with that I will never understand. Men who understand his PTSD. He won’t be putting the uniform back on again. This is a part of him I have always known. I’ve never not known him in uniform.
It will be interesting to see where this takes us. Sure, he has the option to say forget the IRR and he also has the option to re-up when his contract comes around. For now though, this is it. Tonight he will take his uniform off for the last time and hang up his dog tags but he will always be a soldier.