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As the wife of a Navy man you get used to the military becoming a priority in your life, but never was that more true than when my husband Josh went on a nine month deployment to Iraq.
While a soldier may make the military a priority, the Navy does not always do the same for their men and women in uniform as was evidenced when he came home this past December.
It's amazing how much training and preparation goes into sending a soldier to war. Yet when they come home there is nothing done to help them. Luckily my husband didn't see any action while in Iraq, so his mental state is great, and our relationship got better with him away (we are expecting our third child!), but financially we are set adrift.
The job my husband held before deployment was held for him while he was away because it is required by law for the company to do so. But when he returned, the job in Boston had changed so much, and his pay had been cut so drastically, that it did not make sense for him to continue working there. He had to drive three hours a day to this job, while paying for gas, tolls and parking. So he left after two weeks.
Even though he was almost forced out of his job, he is ineligible for unemployment since he technically quit. So while we run through our savings just paying our bills, my husband is desperately trying to look for a job so he can provide for his family—which has NOT been easy.
In an attempt to bring some money in, my husband decided to complete his college degree by using the GI Bill. We are supposed to get a monthly stipend while he is going to school, yet after a month of classes we have yet to see a dime.
My husband isn't the only soldier who comes home from deployment to an entirely different world. His brother is also in the Navy stationed in Mississippi. He has been in active duty service for 10 years, been on multiple deployments—including being in the first wave of soldiers who went to Iraq when the war started, seeing horrible atrocities in Afghanistan, and helping clean up Japan after the tsunami. He has earned numerous medals and awards, yet when he returned from his most recent deployment in November he was told he was "no longer needed" in the military and essentially given his pink slip. This man, who was an exemplary soldier and had planned to retire from the military he loves, was left to find a new job in the civilian world for the first time in his life.
Please don't take this as a blast on the military—I love my country, my husband and his duty to the Navy. But it is shocking how soldiers who come home from war have no support or preparation to return to "the real world."
It's easy for people to say they support our troops when they are far away by sending packages and tying a yellow ribbon around the tree. But it is really difficult to be honored and applauded while at war, yet totally ignored when you get home.
A Military Wife from Northbridge