Monday, May 21, 2007

That Time of Year, and IEDs

Changes of command, retirement ceremonies, farewell parties... Part of military life, especially in the summer. We are going to many retirement ceremonies, as we are at that stage of career at which our friends are transitioning to civilian life. This year, we are doing it ourselves.

Taciturn has been a military doctor for 21 years. Like most military physicians, his medical school (St. Louis University) was financed by the government, with the proviso that he serve the military for 4 years after residency. Most physicians leave at that point, which Taciturn planned to do as well, but after a few job interviews in which he wondered about the integrity of the interviewers followed by a tempting job offer to go to Alaska for a few years--he ended up staying. Then he moved to his next assignment, where we met and married. During that assignment, someone recognized leadership potential in him and gave him a big job, and the rest is history.

This ride was actually pretty fun until he was promoted to his last rank. We have been separated more than half of the last few years due to involuntary assignments and deployments. The job he has now is a meat grinder. He goes in every day of the week, day in and day out. He cannot take vacation, he can't go out to eat at night. He is on call 24/7. And, had he not decided to retire, back to the sandbox he would have gone, this very month.

BUT! This is the reality of the new military. While everyone else goes shopping, as our president asked them to do, the entire military works killer schedules just like my husband. My nephew is an army infantryman in Baghdad. My heart stops whenever I hear of army personnel killed there. He already has been in an IED explosion. He works 3 weeks on, two days off, then repeat. It just sucks. Many, many families have broken up due to all of this. One can only live like this for so long.

So, my husband said so long. He has no clue what he will do, but after working non stop for several years, he plans to rest for many months. I think he has earned it.

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