Friday, July 15, 2005

When Jody Calls. Oh, Yellow Elephants...

Yeah. The old "Jody" call. The story of Jody and Dear John are as old as the military. Deployments were tough enough in peacetime. The number of my friends and squadronmates who got divorced over being gone kept me from getting married. Out of my last squadron (15 officers) only four are still married to the same women. Pretty sad. Now in Iraq, it's getting worse.
Most of the men in 4th Squad, Charlie Battery, fought two wars while they were in Iraq. There was the war against the insurgents that had them patrolling for roadside bombs and raiding houses at all hours. Then there was the war back home, which had them struggling, over phone lines from 7,000 miles away, to keep their marriages and their bank accounts intact.
They all knew about "Jody," the opportunist of Army lore who moved in on a soldier's girl while the soldier was off fighting a war. They had sung hundreds of cadences in basic training deriding the name. But it had always seemed like a joke, something that happened to other guys.
After surviving the chaos of Iraq, thousands of soldiers have become casualties of a fight they were poorly trained for: keeping control of their family lives during the separation of war. Men and women who feel lucky their units suffered few fatalities say they can name dozens who returned to empty houses, squandered bank accounts, divorce papers and restraining orders.

The Army divorce rate has jumped more than 80% since the fighting began overseas in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The courts around Ft. Hood, the Army's largest post, may have to add another judge to handle the caseload. Divorce lawyers hire extra staff whenever a division prepares to come home.
This has to be one of the saddest stories coming out of Iraq yet. I always cringed when I saw those marriages of young enlisted guys to their HS sweethearts, standing there in their class "A" uniforms beaming with pride, their new bride on their arm. I wondered how long that was going to last, no relatonship other than wham-bam-thank'ya ma'am and a trip to the local justice of the peace.

The young men wanted to know that they were going to be coming home to a faithful, patient, loving wife, perhaps even a new child; the idea of a trimmed lawn and a white picket fence guarding their family as they guarded their perimeter from bad things, squarely in their thoughts as they boarded the transport to Baghdad. No sacrifice was too great to come home to that. But separation, anxiety and lonliness make for a powerful antidote to those dreams. Young wives forced to live in near poverty on a junior enlisted salary soon begin to wonder what it's all about; far from home and their family that separation begins to cause changes metastisize into a cancer that has no cure save their excision from the marriage.

Another thing that was interesting about the article, two of the enlisted men named were reduced in rank for buying and consuming black-market alcohol. How sad is that? Are they not allowed to drink? Is there no EM club they can go to blow off steam? I see the makings of another epidemic of "zero tolerance" substance abuse bullshit coming, and an entire generation of servicemen left high and dry, so to speak because it's cheaper to kick them out than treat them for the legitimate psychological stress that drove them to become involved with substance abuse to begin with. General Discharges and Other-than-Honorable discharges get little to no VA support, and are harder to get "upgraded" by the Board for Correction of Military Records. Maybe that's the 1600 Crew plan to defund the VA...

crossposted to Democratic Veteran


At 15 July, 2005 18:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a sad story about our troops in Iraq. It deserves to be posted somewhere but on the OYE blog.

Likewise other storys about bad things that happen to the troops (like geting killed) deserve to be posted somewhere but not on the OYE blog.

This blog is about recruiting needs and the lack of response by war supporters.

At 15 July, 2005 20:18, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It gets uglier

Soldier charged in wife's death

By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter

Spc. Brandon Bare returned from Iraq in April, sidelined by a wound that earned him a Purple Heart.

Yesterday, the Army charged the 19-year-old Fort Lewis soldier with the premeditated murder of his 18-year-old wife.

Nabila Bare's body was found Tuesday in the couple's apartment in the Clarkdale Housing area of the base.

Army officials took her husband into custody that same day. No details were released about how Nabila Bare was killed.

This is the third time in the past two years that a Washington-based soldier back from Iraq has been accused of killing his wife.

At 16 July, 2005 08:06, Blogger Karl said...

The alcohol situation demonstrates why international coalitions are so important for the morale of U.S. servicemembers.


Because our coalition partners supply themselves, and are not subject to the same U.S. policies and restrictions.

Hint: Dutch MREs come in green bottles.


At 16 July, 2005 14:29, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read articles that the US Army offers marital counseling, anger management courses etc. in reflection to this alarming trend. I think that's great, but they might want to include therapy for the serviceperson to help them cope with their experiences in war.

If there's something that hasn't changed from one war to the next, it is that emotional and psychological support is hard to come by for servicepersons, for whatever reason.

One of my best friends went into the Marines and fought in Iraq. To this day he refuses to talk about it, and it's like it's eating him up inside. I wouldn't know how to cope, either.

At 17 July, 2005 02:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is just sick married people should never be sent to war of course neither should anyone except dirty facist republicans but we can start with married people

At 17 July, 2005 21:55, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alcohol's not allowed in Iraq or Afghanistan on American bases. My husband's base in Kabul is a NATO base which does allow alcohol. Except, of course, American soldiers aren't allowed to drink any of it.

They treat them like children but ask them to kill for us and die for us. What's worse, 41% of those serving in both wars are "part-timers" who are over the legal drinking age. The excuse my husband's commanders give him is that they don't want to offend their "hosts." To that end, we aren't allowed to send them pornography, religious materials of any kind, or political stuff (I guess a rant against Bush would also be against Islam!). Of course, they don't check every package, especially since it's KBR that's in charge of Army mail now, so we can slip in the occasional political book or two. :)

Man, it just gets worse and worse. I can't handle it sometimes. It makes me too angry and upset.

At 17 July, 2005 23:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you should sign up and go kill some brown people because if we kill enough brown people the troops can come home

At 18 July, 2005 14:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can second the alcohol ban; my brother is currently in Kuwait with a supply/repair division. For his leave, they got to travel to a base that offered some alcohol...

they got small tickets for two free beers. :P

At 21 July, 2005 19:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

brown people cant drink either

At 22 July, 2005 22:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that sucks i like to drink liberally


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