How You Doin’ Blondie?


I AM JACK’S BLEEDING HEART

My senior year of college, a month before I was supposed to graduate, I got a letter from the bank that had issued me my student loans. The letter started out very friendly, almost like the bank president was on old friend of mine and would like to do lunch someday. It explained that everybody at the bank was really proud of my accomplishments, and they couldn’t wait to see what I did with my future! They also said that, because we were friends, they were going to bestow unto me a one-year grace period, starting the day I graduated, during which time I did not have to make any payments on my student loan debt. Then at the veeeery end of the letter they explained, in excruciating detail, exactly how much I was going to owe them. I believe I almost experienced total organ failure.

I sat down and crunched some numbers and I realized that unless I moved in on the Columbian drug trade, I was going to be making payments until I was well into my 50’s. So I started exploring my options, and one of them was to enlist in the Army Reserve. Although at the time we were officially at war, we hadn’t reached (or at least no one was revealing we had reached) a troop-shortage crisis yet, and the Army Reserve was offering, in addition to a $20,000 signing bonus, 100% student-loan reimbursement. So I figured that next to the Navy (which I had already ruled out because I get as seasick and as claustrophobic as a motherfucker), the Army Reserve was a pretty good way to reap the benefits of the GI Bill without having to see any actual combat.

Then I started doing some research, read some fine print, discovered words like “stop-loss” and “Improvised Explosive Device.” I started seeing pictures of soldiers missing the lower half of their body, or the main portion of their face. I started reading about the disgusting things local insurrectionists did to the bodies of US Soldiers…and that’s when I realized, the US Armed Forces was probably not for me. I realized that I would be the angriest, most pissed off motherfucker on the eastern seaboard, if I got my legs or an arm blown off and all I had to show for it was 20 large and some tuition reimbursement.

So I didn’t enlist. But I realized then that there was a whole group of people out there who did, and they did it in spite of the potential cost. I also realized then that there were people who had already paid the price, who had already made the sacrifice. I realized that those people, the ones who had already paid – the lucky ones in that group were the ones with a fake foot or only one eyeball. The lucky ones were the ones who went home and pushed their kids on the swing-set or made love to their spouses with pieces of shrapnel still in their skull. The unlucky ones were the ones who never made it back alive. The unlucky ones were the ones who were honored for their bravery and courage – posthumously. The unlucky ones were the ones whose families opened the door one day to two somber looking soldiers in a black Lincoln towncar who said nothing other than, “May we come in?” The even unluckier ones never made it home at all. They’re the ones whose families keep that battery-powered candle in the front window, or that yellow gift-wrap ribbon tied to the tree out front, in hopes that one day their loved one will come home.

I realized all this, and I cried. I remember sitting on my bed in my apartment, about two weeks after graduation, and just crying. And it wasn’t one of those Miss. America crying jags, the ones you could almost mistake for laughter if not for the streams of tears running down her cheeks – it was one of those major cries. It was the kind of crying that you don’t expect, the kind that suddenly hits you with a fierce blow and finds you totally unprepared – I was crying like that, for people. I was crying like that for human beings. Humans that sign up to do super human work. I was crying for soldiers. I was crying because you can throw in all the body armor and 21st century technology that you want, but a soldier is still a human, just like everybody else. I was crying because these soldiers suffer unspeakable loss and shoulder impossible burdens, and sometimes it’s dismissed as “just part of their job.” And I was crying because yeah, it is just part of their job, but their job is a great one, and it’s too much for one man, or one family, to try and carry alone.

Since that day, I’ve been very actively involved in organizations whose goal is to support deployed and injured soldiers, and their families. Although there are several, there is one organization I’ve publicly supported the most, chiefly because there is no “organization extraction” – 100% of the purchase or donation price is given directly to troops and their families.

Regardless of your political affiliation, please don’t confuse the war with the warrior. Please support our troops.

 

 I’ll get off my soapbox now.

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The Other Half Of My Heart Is In Iraq
May 20, 2008, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Family, Honor, Life, love, USMC | Tags: , , , ,

So my brother gets on the phone with me tonight, and we’re in the middle of discussing the Philadelphia Flyers when I hear one of my brother’s friends, Jason, shriek in the background, “Ask her if she’ll autograph my cast!” Then I heard something crashing and what sounded like a young Marine making a very hasty exit. I asked my brother what Jason was talking about and he tried to be evasive, but eventually I got the whole story out:

 Apparently, my brother and a few of his fellow soldiers were watching an Ultimate Fighting Championship DVD and one of the guys recognized me as the ring card girl. According to my brother, Jason made an offensive remark that my brother refused to repeat, but said that it involved my breasts and a sex act…anyway, after Jason made the remark, my brother dove on top of him and proceeded to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Jason now has a broken wrist and is missing a tooth. 

That’s my little brother, bad ass to the bone. And always faithful, of course.

 



Uncle Sam Needs Somebody, Anybody Else
April 15, 2008, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Current Affairs, Family, fear, Life, love, thoughts | Tags: , , ,

Just got a phone call; my youngest brother, Matthew, he’s expressed his desire to attend the Virginia Military Institute, post-high school. Presumably with the intent of a career with the US Armed Forces.

I couldn’t be prouder, or more afraid.

But honestly, both of them? Really? What is this, a conspiracy?