Liz Snell is a military spouse and the CEO and Founder of Military Spouses of Strength
Photo Credit: The U.S. Army, Flickr.com
A ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan “officially” ended the war Sunday, December 28th, 2014. A ceremony that included leaders– our military leaders. This ceremony was formal, and as you would expect any military ceremony to be, full of circumstance. Yet, I am left conflicted about the message that “officially” ending a war means.
We will still have troops in Afghanistan, just like we do in Iraq- although that war has long since ended. My greatest struggle is with the realization that even if battles may die down, a world of other battles still await. Battles that may no longer see the arm-to-arm combat, yet leave our service members and military families feeling segregated and forgotten.
War, by definition, is a state of hostility, conflict or antagonism. While “officially” we are ending a war in Afghanistan, there are wars that our military families will be actively battling. It has become well known that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, we have war widows, and the children of the fallen- each that will be battling their own wars. Wars often forgotten by American society, in part due to a “war officially ending.” We are leaving each of these segments of warriors to struggle with inner conflicts and hostility; because greater America believes that when “war ends” all is right in the world.
America doesn’t see the families that try to piece their lives back together, navigating waters of becoming a family again- waters forever changed by currents that being separated repeatedly for over a decade can do. Widows trying to rebuild a life, the best they can, without their significant others; their forever lost battle-buddies. Emotional conflicts of our littlest warriors, warriors who only know repeated separation from their parent’s (some of whom will never return), and have had to learn to circumvent life’s struggles without the aid of their heroes. Veterans that become demonized by their duty to service, feeling along- looking for a way out of their own inner battles.
Ending a war, relinquishes the American public from having any responsibility toward our military community- a community that we are forever indebted to. History has taught us, when one war ends another soon starts; this is no different.
If you are a part of the American “civilian” community I encourage you to recognize that while wars end, and the majority of our troops may be coming home (there will ALWAYS be deployments, and extended separations) there are still conflicts that those within our military circles face. Recognize this, and use it as a call to action. Continue your support of the military community- say thank you. Seek out ways to support, acknowledge the continued plight. This is not a time to simply “get back to our day-to-day” lives, now is the time to engage- other wars wage on.
For all a part of the military community, know that you are not alone in your battles. While others may not fully understand your struggles; making your voices known is the only way for others to understand, and become aware. Reach out to others, in the military community and in supportive agencies.
I leave you, as we enter the New Year, with hopes of enduring peace and understanding.