Friday, November 12, 2010


I'm generally not one to get all sentimental on Veteran's Day, which we celebrated yesterday, for all kinds of reasons, and I won't enumerate them here.  I think this quote sums it up best though:  "Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched."  (Guy de Maupassant
That being said, I heard part of Fresh Air last night on the way home from the gym, and it reminded me of a story, one that I meant to post on my old blog and just never got around to it. 

Say you: I thought you said you weren't writing about this stuff anymore...
Say me:  Um, my blog.  Therefore I'm entitled to fickle behavior. 

One of the first assessments I ever did, four or five years ago now, was for a young woman who had made a feeble attempt to end it all: some minor cutting on her wrists that didn't even require stitches.  When I walked in the room I momentarily paused before I began because her beauty took my breath away.  She wasn't Angelina Jolie beautiful or Marilyn Monroe beautiful or even typical, white-man-fantasy porn star beautiful. She was quietly beautiful: thin, but not horribly so, creamy dark skin, piercing dark eyes, long curly hair, perfectly balanced features.  She was polite and unassuming and sad.  So, so sad.  Silent tears marked her face like roads on a map the entire time I was with her.

She was there with her husband who was an Iraqi Freedom vet.  They were high school sweethearts and married a year or so after they graduated.  Three weeks later he deployed, and two weeks after that he lost his leg to an IED.  Honorably discharged and fully rehabbed with the new leg, he was working in finance by the time I saw them. 

And she never really dealt with it.  Any of it.  

One of the earliest and hidden casualties of the war: the mental health of a spouse who lost her dreams and expectations. Not to mention her husband's leg. -> 


Just A Passerby said...

Wow. Powerfully written one. I love it. Wonderfully real and painfully bittersweet contents, yet so powerful and, well, there's always some element of beauty found when reading about someone's experience with sorrow and sadness...

"The nation which forgets it's defenders will be itself forgotten." -- Calvin Coolidge

What's even more complicating there nowadays is how the defenders' spouses are almost always forgotten...

Baysage said...

I don't think of them so much as "defenders" as I do "victims." Young men and now women die and get maimed for old men's fights. It's all been so long ago, nobody even remembers that there should have been NO Iraqi Freedom. We should have never been there in the first place. Victims.

Just A Passerby said...

I was just skimming through the last couple months of your blog when I reread this one and it made me wonder...I haven't followed the story about the military spouse/mother down in Tampa who was charged with murdering her 2 teen-aged children over this past w/e, but I did follow it for 2 days..curious if you had any thoughts about her situation...the last article I read stated that her husband was a higher ranked Army officer who works in intelligence & was overseas during the days that she killed their daughter & son.

Surely she's to have a psych eval, but it'll be interesting to see if &/or what (if any) her spouse's absence for protracted periods of time may have possibly heightened this FL woman's amounts of day-to-day life stressors, etc. Of course, she may have suffered from a mental disorder or acute onset of one w/o her husband's work contributing anything to these tragic events...again, I've not read anything about her case since Monday or Tues.

Tanya said...

I've been so focused on Egypt and our own weather I haven't heard about this, which is embarrassing.

I have a friend whose husband just left the military. She said many times that they are simply awful at providing real services to families of enlisted men despite their public blurbs about how they're so family oriented. Higher rates of domestic violence, little mental health care, spouses that are single parents for months on can't be a a great lifestyle to marry in to.

I'm guessing in the case of FL it was a pre-existing condition exacerbated by the military lifestyle.

Baysage said...

The pre-existing condition is the madness of trying to stay sane under the kind of pressure put on families by endless war. It is not at all unusual for families to come unglued because of the stresses of military living, politely so-called. First off, some of these guys have been deployed to the war zones four, five, six times. The military goes on and on about what a "family" they are. It's part of their self-delusion. Once you are beyond the fences of the post or base, say as a veteran, you're on your own, baby.

The wife in FL was indeed married to an officer, which I suppose, is supposed to make the murder of her kids more shocking. It is a terrible tragedy . . . and I have great sympathy for everyone affected by this. But nobody in America finds it shocking that our military murders innocent men, women, and children practically every day in Afghanistan, Pakistan. They call it "collateral damage."