October 13th, 2008
01:03 PM ET

'War weary' – What are you complaining about?!

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Editor's Note: Rebekah Sanderlin is a mother, an Army wife and a freelance journalist. She lives near Fort Bragg, Norh Carolina and writes a blog about military family life called “Operation Marriage” for The Fayetteville Observer newspaper. Her husband is currently on his third deployment to Afghanistan.

Rebekah Sanderlin
"Operation Marriage

If the American military went to war and America went shopping, then seven years later the war wages on but America is home from the shopping spree with her credit cards maxed out and her head aching from buyer’s remorse.

The war didn’t change and the fighting force didn’t change, but the people back home are over it. War, it seems, went out of style in 2003.

In the military community we roll our eyes when we hear that Americans are war weary. Just what, we wonder, are you all weary of? Hearing about the war? Seeing stories in the news? Most Americans don’t even know anyone in the military and won’t have any direct contact with the war besides seeing uniformed soldiers in the airport. You all haven’t been asked to do anything more to support this war than sit back and watch as your tax dollars are spent.

To us, civilian complaints about being war weary sound like the gripes of deadbeat dads: It’s a bummer to hear that things are going badly and you’re sick of being asked to pay for it, but you’re not doing any of the real work yourselves. Many of you believe that fighting this war is optional. You seem to think our nation could make everything okay by just sitting this one out.

And, in a way, that reasoning makes sense. Most of you haven’t been on the front lines or on the homefront. You haven’t looked into the eyes of the enemy and the innocents and you haven’t heard gunshots and mortar rounds in the background during a precious-but-short phone call. You haven’t had villagers beg you to stay or to adopt their children. And you haven’t heard your soulmate grapple with dueling guilt: Guilt that he’s leaving his family for so long and guilt that he isn’t deployed more frequently and for longer so that he could do more. You haven’t seen or heard any of this, so how could you possibly understand?

It’s not your fault. Nobody has asked you to do anything. Our leaders didn’t think you would be willing to make real sacrifices, so they never bothered to ask. They let you all think that shopping yourselves into debt was patriotic, that spending yourselves into bankruptcy and foreclosure was enough to keep our nation safe.

You are war weary because futility breeds weariness. When you feel like something is for no good reason and getting nowhere, it’s understandable that you’d be over it. But maybe you wouldn’t be so war weary if you, personally, had a stake in what was happening “over there.”

In the military community, the price tag for this war is much higher but the commitment level is much greater. Our country has not only asked for our tax dollars (and believe me, we’re paying monetarily for this war, too) but for our blood, our family time, our futures, our children’s happiness and our very lives. We have enlisted and reenlisted – and offered our support to our spouses who sign back up – because, soldier and spouse, we know the commitment level of the people who want to kill us and we know the desperate dependence of the people our nation has vowed to protect. We know that we have to be at least as committed as our enemy or our own children will be fighting this same war.

My husband has spent the bulk of our five-and-a-half-year marriage deployed. He’s missed most of our son’s life and our daughter has never even heard his voice – not even in utero. We won’t know for years what the long-term effects of these deployments will be on him, on us and on our kids. Last year he suffered a serious head injury and he’s lost most of the hearing in his right ear, the ear closest to his gun. We don’t know what the long-term effects of his injuries will be, either. This year, on his third deployment to Afghanistan, he missed my father’s death and funeral, our daughter’s birth, our son learning to ride a bike and catching his first fish, and countless other precious moments that cannot be reclaimed. There is no predicting what events he’ll miss in the future.

And we are the lucky ones.

My husband has lost more than 20 friends in this global war on terror and I have an ever-growing group of Army widow friends. They are young and beautiful and many have young children. They are also stunted. They hang around Army towns years after losing their soldiers because they say they don’t fit in anywhere else. They say they can no longer relate to what they see and hear in the civilian world.

They can’t reintegrate into the your world because there the people they meet don’t know what it’s like to sacrifice everything for something intangible. The widows say they don’t feel like they fit in where people don’t know how hard it is to break away from that last hug before a deployment. In the civilian world the widows, like all soldiers and military spouses these days, are treated as oddities, something to marvel or gawk at from a distance. People either fawn over us or try to ignore us. Our presence inspires either adulation or discomfort.

So we hunker down in our military towns, where regular pilgrimages to D.C. to visit loved ones at Arlington and Walter Reed are common. In military towns, we can laugh about all the dust and sand that comes into our homes after a deployment, carted thousands of miles from where it was picked up. We can complain about long lines at the post office during our weekly visits to send care packages. We can vent about news of another deployment, less than a year after the last one. If anyone in America should be war weary, it’s us.

And make no mistake: We are tired. We are stretched thin. Our marriages and our families are collapsing. Our children are emotionally damaged. They act out at school and cry at home. Everyday we wonder if we have the strength for even another day of this. We’re tired from the work, but we’re not weary of the mission.

This war is far from over, that’s something both candidates for the presidency have acknowledged. Whichever man finds himself in the Oval Office come January will be in a position to decide our fates in the military community in a way more personal and immediate than most Americans will experience. The next president will determine how much my husband and I will see each other for the next four years and whether or not he will have the tools and policies he needs when he is in harm’s way. The next president will determine our odds of continuing to be the lucky ones.

This war is far from over – that is an obvious truth in military communities. But our reality seems so very different from yours. For the last seven years our elected officials haven’t thought enough of you to ask you to pitch in. They haven’t, so I will.

My husband and I know that this is not his last deployment and we know that his odds of returning home get worse with each trip. The only way our family and other military families will get a break is if more Americans sign up to join the fight. News reports these days are full of stories of lay-offs and the high cost of health care. Well, guess what? There are no pink slips in the military and our excellent health care system is free.

So sign up. We want you. Your nation wants you. And we in the military community need you. My family deserves a break.

Filed under: Raw Politics • TV • War on Terror
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Raine

    I get really angry at people stating that their tax dollars support/pay for the military's paychecks. We pay taxes as well! And I won't even address the idiot who implied that military wives are the same as individuals on welfare.( Ignorance comes to mind.)
    Many people volunteer to join the armed services to support their country, just as others are looking for school benefits, a possible career, support that they may have not had in their upbringing. Pretty much, reasons for why all Americans do the jobs they do, live where they want to live. Why the condemnation?
    I think this writer is asking for a little understanding, not sympathy. And, I too agree, that there will always be people who talk the talk, and those who walk the walk. Freedom isn't free, funny how there are alot of Americans are always trying to get something free or at a reduced cost. Hey, why should I go, when someone else will? No compassion, why are so many people so hard?
    You know, there will never be peace in this world..... people find a reason to dislike, even hate others because of stupid reasons. And for this, I am truly weary, truly saddened.

    October 15, 2008 at 10:51 am |
  2. Jennifer

    Rebekah, your thoughts and feelings are well-written here. I'm a local Fort Bragg wife and mom, and I keep up with your Observer blogs (as much as a full time career, school, and children allow that is). You know I'm your sister girl, but I would have to disagree with your assessment of most civilians not knowing someone in the military. Between our active duty, guard, and reserve forces from every town and city, big and small, I think more could rattle off a name or two than we think.
    People are war weary because the majority of Americans, according to CNN's own polls, do not support the war in Iraq and a lot of them never have (even before the casualty rates starting to climb and it became more unpopular). They feel their tax dollars are being spent on a cause they do not approve of. Well guess what....my tax dollars are spent on causes I do not approve of... like giving money to women who constantly pop out children they cannot support. My tax dollars are spent to give welfare to people who should not be able to collect it, instead of making them work for something like the rest of it. My tax dollars are spent paying college tuition for people who have never worked, yet I work full time and have to pay full tuition along with it...you get my drift.

    I am weary of being mom & dad at the same time, of shouldering the responsibility myself, but it comes with the territory. Your husband enlisted after 9/11 so you knew exactly what you were getting into and I applaud you for sticking with it both for him and your children. You and I both see these wives running around Fayetteville while their husbands are deployed, and it is not a pretty sight. My husband has been active duty army for 14 years, he joined long before 9/11. We married in 2000, never imagining the time he would be away in just a year from then. But you know it's always a possibility and you just live with it. Both he and I were not supporters of war in Iraq. But Iraq is where we are, and we must now lie in the bed that was made.
    I do agree that many people cannot possibly understand the full extent of the sacrifice soldiers make, to include families. How could they possibly? I support my husband and his job 100% as I know you do.

    And did someone say that military families get free health insurance? Are you kidding me? So this guy's employer doesn't cover any part of his health insurance then? My husband tracking those directly responsible for 9/11 for months through various countries and continents does not earn his kid a teeth-cleaning every once in a while? Seriously, bud. I have to laugh anytime someone says the military families get free healthcare. There is nothing free about it my friends, believe it. Hang in the Rebekah, we love ya

    October 15, 2008 at 10:46 am |
  3. veni vedi

    Sanderlin sleeps with the US flag and uses it to get what she so desperately wants–sympathy.

    The real soldiers are quiet professionals that do their job. They are the one's that deserve the respect, not the ones that demand it.

    The Iraqi war is a futile joke. Started by a prankster. If she could just accept the contradiction.

    She would serve her family better if she would spend time with her kids rather than begging for love on blogs and spewing rhetoric on NPR.

    October 14, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  4. B

    Brilliant article! We don't hear the military families' side of the story.

    October 14, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  5. Mary

    It is not the job of the military or the media to pay "equal attention" to Iraq and Afghanistan when the operations are so vastly different in size.

    It should have been the job of this administration to at least divide resources between the two. Of course, if we are speaking of the Global War on Terror, the best plan would have been to focus primarily on Afghanistan.

    My husband has done two tours in Iraq. I am weary. I wonder if perhaps I would feel differently if he had gone to Afghanistan. It's impossible to know.

    October 13, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  6. John Rock

    I have great respect for you and your family and feel for the pain and sacrifice that you have endured.

    I am afraid that the tragedy of disconnect here lies in a fundamental difference in the perception of what the reality is here. I dare not speak for all people opposed to this war, but I do feel that my opinion is shared by many. It is no doubt difficult for families of soldiers to entertain, let alone accept, and it is this:

    This war is nothing less than imperial aggression. We are occupying a foreign land for the purpose of securing the oil production for the western oil companies, and building permanent military bases from which to launch more invasions in the future. Everything the current administration has said about freedom, democracy and terrorism is propaganda to justify and cover up their imperial and illegal aggression. Whether things might get worse if we pulled out is irrelevant because our presence is unjustified and serving a corrupt agenda and our leaders are not trying to make things better, they are biding their time as they build bases and steal oil.

    The sacrifices our soldiers have made are tragically not being made in pursuit of a worthy cause, however painful that is to accept, but are instead being made so the greedy and powerful can get richer and more powerful at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives.

    On top of that, the cost of this war is bankrupting our country.

    This is why the only way to support our troops to stop this war, bring them home and not allow them to be used in such malicious ways.


    October 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  7. Barry

    I am an Afghan vet and have just packed my bags for my second deployment. I can tell you that I and my family am extremely "war weary". I am also very weary of individuals such as yourself insinuating that anyone who disagrees with our decision to invade a country that was no threat to us is somehow unpatriotic and should head down to the nearest recruiting office and sign up for a tour. Civilians have every right to be weary of this Bush/Cheney fiasco and I applaud every one of them that speaks their mind. If we all unite perhaps we can put an end to this useless, resource draining, Iraq war and somehow pull a victory out in Afghanistan (the real war on terror).

    October 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  8. Craig


    My heart is with your family and friends and I thank you for all you have given. I agree with your article and while I am not able to enlist anymore I volunteer my time every week doing what I can. It annoys me to no end the people that criticize and complain and yet barely lift a finger help their community and nation. Their idea of giving is just pay a bit more taxes and let someone else deal with handing it out. Or better yet, let someone else with more money pay the taxes too. I too think there have been major mistakes with this war and I do believe there are people in the government and large businesses that are manipulating the American people for profit, but those that just want to stick their head in the sand and pretend that it will all go away, those that think all we need to do is bring our troops home and life will be warm and fuzzy again, those that think we can sit down with vicious animals and talk it out, those that think that if we just mind our own business they won't hate us...are ensuring that it's only a matter of time before the war is right here in our backyards. Oh wait... I forgot this war has nothing to do with freedom.

    God Bless You!

    October 13, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  9. Wendy

    I'm a former military brat, wife of a 24 year veteran(special forces) we have 1 son who is to be deployed next summer, a son in law(whose dad is a retired veteran) who will be deployed in Feb. Our youngest plans to enlist when he is out of high school. I know all about what the families have to give up when you are married to someone in the military.

    My husband and I spent the first 5 years of our marriage more apart than we were together. I never whined and cried about. Did I hate that he missed the birth of his 4th child of course or when he missed the first day of school. He missed a lot of firsts. Is my son in law going to miss a lot of firsts with my granddaughter yes he is. He missed her birth. But you know what just like my husband and my son he signed his name on the dotted line. Just like my daughter and I signed our name on our marriage cert. We all knew there would be a lot of sacrifices all around but this is the life we chose. Is my daughter going to whine and cry because he isn’t there NO because she knew what she was getting into before she married her husband. She knows her part is to take care of her family even if she is doing it by herself.

    So in closing am I going to thank you for your sacrifice NO because you made a choice to be a military spouse and all that comes with it. So put your big girl panties on and deal with it.

    One side note on your comment “For the last seven years our elected officials haven’t thought enough of you to ask you to pitch in. They haven’t, so I will.” While they may not have asked outright the government has paid out $750 million in fiscal year 2008 in recruitment bonuses. The only way to get that money is from our elected officials. You know the ones who vote on the DOD budget and then send it to the president to sign. That is their @ss backwards way of asking.

    October 13, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  10. Steff

    I would like to comment to Sean- the elitist who calls Rebekah a "simple woman"... you know NOTHING of patriotism... your tired liberal mantra of "questioning the governments agenda is true patriotism isn't the same as not supporting the troops" grows WEARY to military families. You should be angry, not at Rebekah, but at the liberals of this country that want to forget 9/11. The liberals that want to forget Bin Laden. The liberals that don't want to inform themselves about the mosques going up left and right in the Phillipines, South America, and Africa. You should be angry for being such an uninformed chauvinist that has probably NEVER served anyone but himself a day in his life. You should be angry that your parents didn't teach you to respect and honor the ones that give you the right to blog and run your mouth and have your uninformed political views and you should be angry that you have to look in the mirror every day at a COWARD!!! You, sir, are a simple simple little man!!! I know Rebekah and her family... her husband is an American hero... doubt that word has EVER been attached to your name!!

    October 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm |
  11. SGT. York

    Rebekah – I think the problem is that many of the people here don't think there needs to be a response to terror. Like LRV, I've "been there and done that". I've seen what we're up against up close and personal. If you or someone you love has, then you "get it".
    God Bless – Airborne!

    October 13, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  12. Rob

    An interesting article, but you miss the key point. We are involved in two wars now for essentially no reason. Iraq was a conflict built on GWB lies, and being there will serve this country. One could argue that being in Afghanistan has merit, or not.

    In any case, your husband and his fellow soldiers all volunteered to go where they are told and kill who they are told to kill. If he had not done so, and gotten a job in the civilian world, your family wouldn't have the troubles it has.

    The best thing for all involved would be an immediate pullout of all US troops. We'd stop wasting money and stop killing innocent civilians.


    October 13, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  13. jschmidt

    Great article- most people don't realize the sacrifice of the soldiers and their families. Some don't want to know. But you foot the burden of ensuring our freedoms and following the orders of the elected officials. The soldiers are their to do the mission and they do it well. 95% of the populace applauds the service and sacrifice. I'm not sure the media appreciates it. They are best at reporting bad news and many it seem go out of their way to report the worst and this could all be due to political reasons. But whatever the reason, not having the good news reported makes you and your families job harder. And you don't deserve that.

    October 13, 2008 at 6:40 pm |
  14. LRB

    Ted – You too, my fellow American, are totally clueless. No one is going to question the how's and why's of why we went to Iraq, but to think that they are not better off is just wrong. I guess you've "been there and done that", huh? If so, you would see the change in the eyes of Iraq's future – their youth. War is hell, and yes, I've been there and done that – for over 20 years, but the end state is that we have ousted a cruel and horrible dictator to give Iraq a chance in their future, something I guess, you were willing to turn a blind eye to. As for this war being over big oil, have you seen gas prices lately?

    And you are right about one thing – they would still be living in fear of Saddam Hussein...

    October 13, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  15. Rebekah Sanderlin

    I appreciate all the comments being made here, and many of you make some really good points. But I do think I should remind several of you all that this is a war on TWO fronts. Most of the comments here refer only to Iraq. I didn't write this commentary to voice an opinion on the Iraq invasion. Rather, it's a commentary on the public response to the Global War on Terror.
    It's been a great frustration of mine for the last few years that the US media and population have largely ignored the fighting in Afghanistan, as that is where my husband has spent his three GWOT deployments. Perhaps if the attention (both military and from the public and media) that was paid to Iraq had been divided more evenly among both fronts to the war, Afghanistan would have remained a success story.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  16. Ted

    This is most ridiculous thing I have ever read. The notion that if you do not have anyone you know or love doing the fighting, then we should not be weary of this war of aggression by our country. Contrary to what you and the likes of you believe, we do care what is happening to the men and women of our armed forces. We also care for the lives of ordinary Iraqis lives wasted senselessly. Especially, since we invaded their country on the pretense of finding WMD. When in fact there were no WMD. Our leaders who told us that there exists WMD flatly lied to us not to save us or humanity, but to exploit Iraqis resources by their big oil clients. If you still believe that the Iraqis are better off today that they were under Saddam Hussein then you are as clueless if not more as Gov. Palin. Remember that had we not invaded Iraq, ordinary Iraqis would not have fear their neighbors as they do now. They would not be asking for protection from their fellow country men.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  17. rick

    A great perspective from you and its amazing how much resolve the military and military families have-unlike most Americans in this country. I am not in the miltary and do not know anyone in the miltary, however, I have always have had great respect for those that serve.
    Especially now! And Iraq is ajust a great example of how decades
    of "Not doing anything" results in toxic layers of corruption, greed, oppression, brutality, crime and terrorism. And the world seems
    surprised for some reason that it may take many years to stabilize, and remove that threat. Just for that fact alone, I am not war weary, but
    more importantly, like you, I have no right to be war weary, when i'm not actually doing the fighting. There is just something fundamentally wrong when only a certain segment of the population is doing the fighting and the other significant part of the country is sitting on the couch with their game boxes, and complaining about the mismanagement of the war. Heck, most families can't even manage
    their 2.3 kids. And its really sad that i dont hear enough people say that they want this country to win this conflict. And by the way, great work on the surge and its success.(you know,"The Pivotal" part of the war that every media outlet made it to be(and is), but hardly hear of since its success). Safety to you and your family.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  18. Willie L. Steed

    Those in the military are victums of the folly of politicians to peacefully resolve difficulties between peoples. Your words should not be directed toward the American people but toward our present and past politicians who have made our path to the present condition. I feel that the root of our present terrorist problem is the failure to bring Israel and the Palestineans to terms. It appears that many in Israel want to
    seek all the land that was promised by the Old Testament rather than only the land provided by the UN when Israel was made a state by the United Nations. Terrorism as we know it wil likely to continue until Israel backs away from land acquisition and the Palestinians are provided statehood. I wish our service members well; but I am not optimistic that terrorism will be defeated so long as there is a shread of injustice in their minds. However; we took the land of the American Indian and when they protested we killed them until they submitted the land. Maybe Israel will likewise be successful. We should have some influence on our friends or maybe choose to be even handed between friends. I hope you will consider my comments to be constructive.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  19. Charles

    Why do you think that the war in Afghanistan gets little attention and even less resources even though the people responsible for 9/11 planned and executed the attack from there? Could it be because they have no oil? Why did we attack and occupy Iraq and invest billions even though they had nothing to do with 9/11. Why does McCain want to stay there for 100 years? Could it be oil? Enjoy your Hummers.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  20. Paul

    Hi Rebekah,
    I, too, come from a military family where my dad was gone for most of my life trying to win that tragic war in Vietnam. A war that started a long time ago and a war that went from being a 'right' war against the spread of communism to a complete and utter foreign policy blunder.

    The war you descibe, the war on terror, is George Bush's war, and he has you and your family and so many other families doing a job that is thankless. Our president sent us into Iraq when the real and correct response to 9/11 was to wage a complete and powerful war against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist organization...not a war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq!

    Civilians are 'war weary' b/c many of us see the tragedy of this costly mistake...the loss of lives, the devastation, the financial cost. And still, Osama Bin Laden lives on making a mockery of the US and the west. Some of us don't buy the 'war on terror' as being the right war...in the same way the public turned against the war against the spread of communism in the 60's...

    Poor judgement and bad decisions on the part of politicians caused the debacle of Vietnam and today, George Bush's war is heading in the same direction.

    So please forgive us for growing war weary with Iraq...a war waged against a made up enemy when the real enemy still causes destruction, still taunts the US and the west, and grows in new places like Iraq b/c of Bush's mismanagement.

    Those of you in the military have chosen a noble path...a job that involves protecting America and the freedoms it is founded on. But you are fighting a war that just doesn't make sense to the world and to many Americans. Please forgive our apathy, it's not personal.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  21. Andrew

    I can't believe you know why America is war weary but still mock the rest of us and ask us to sign-up. Like you wrote in the article, the war is futile and there is no reason to be there.

    The war was started based on reasoning that completely defies logic. It's hard to support a war when I don't believe the lies that underpin the reason for the war. And I'm even more weary of the constant message from the Bush Administration that not supporting this immoral war somehow makes me unpatriotic.

    I feel that this country is too quick to throw out the principles that made the country great when it is inconvenient to follow those principles. I immigrated to this country because to me, it is built upon the free exchange of ideas, not blindly following others because they have suffered more than me. I thought I left that kind of thinking in the third world country I left behind.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  22. Steff


    First off, fantastic article. As a military wife, most of America does not understand our sacrifices and it urks me to NO end when people say crap like " well then don't re-enlist".. hey great attitude.. how about no one enlists..we have NO army... no defense and then we could all be wearing burkhas in a few years... I bet Hollywood could get Chanel or Zac Posen to make cute ones to match their little dogs!! When men (like readers Daniel and Paul make those comments) it makes me realize that their manhood is probably just being challenged because they haven't stepped to the plate to defend or even serve their country.
    Personally, I'm all for mandatory service for everyone so they can understand the sacrifices. Italy, Israel, Germany, Korea, and so many others do it... look at it as free career training and little bit of humility for the spoiled brats out there that appreciate nothing!!
    Finally, I see comments by people like Charles (and so many other liberals) " we destroyed a country that did nothing to us" referring to Iraq and then in the next statement he's whining about human rights. Well kids..you can't have it both ways! Sadaam was one of the worst human rights violators ever. Others want to get involved in the Sudan. DO they think that would be all about the humanitarian work? What about all the red tape with the Muslims over there?? Once again people screaming about helping others...and not knowing ANYTHING about the real situation.... so are most Americans uninformed....YEP... why do I know these things? Because my husband is military... so read up before you run your mouth or vote... want a socialist in office that waves a white flag and rolls over to the muslim world.. by all means vote for Obama... want a man that supports the military and will ALWAYS do what's right for this nation?? McCain's the man in November!!

    October 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  23. Jam Shonson

    Tsk tsk,

    Pull out of Iraq. Watch the genocide, the attrocoties. Darfur will be nothing compaired to the onslaught. Just like Viet Nam a generation of men women and children slaughtered. (Cambodia)

    How many more buildings need to fall before some people realize that this is a fight to the death.

    It will be fought. Sooner, or later. USA or abroad. Civillians or Militarily.

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  24. Tbone

    I salute your service, but I think it may have colored your understanding of the relationship between the military and civilian communities. You may be tired of hearing of opposition to the war in Iraq because it's essential that you take the direction of your commanders–without question. You owe your survival in the field to this principal, and I understand why you adhere to it.

    In the civilian world, it's our duty to ensure that the military is only deployed in circumstances where our national security is at risk or can be significantly enhanced. The war in Iraq has never met that standard. Those of us who questioned the strategy in Iraq had our patriotism questioned–and worse. In return for the silence of the majority, we've; spent $ 700 billion, lost more than 4,000 American lives, more than 50,000 Iraqi lives, destroyed our economy, become distracted from our mission in Afghanistan, and seen a decline in our world standing.

    We're weary of seeing our country's civilian leaders betray the military by deploying them in a foolish war. We're weary of this misuse of the great name of America. We're weary of being lied to by a bunch of hacks who don't have the simple courage to admit they were wrong.

    Civilian families haven't sacrificed the way you and your family have sacrificed, but we also have a sacred duty as citizens to demand our government work for the interests of our nation. This is hardly an us versus them dynamic. I have more than a half dozen close friends and family members in various arms of the military. I'm certainly not going to be silent when I believe their service is being mistreated and their lives being sacrificed for lies.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  25. Jon

    I greatly appreciate your passion and candor. I admit that I am, in a sense, removed from the reality of families of deployed military members during this time. I was against the war from the beginning. I'm still against it. I want it to end. But please understand that although I am neither an active duty personnel nor a veteran, I do have some foresight about costs of conflict – whatever it is – to families, communities, and society. So much that I decided to become a psychologist. I now work exclusively with veterans. I say this because it hurts me when someone tells me that since I am against the war that I neither understand nor support the troops – or worse, that I should fight myself. I am fighting, and many others are, too. Fighting to keep this war (and other wars) from taking more casualties then they have to – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. There are many people who do care – I promise.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  26. Russ Pierce


    I am greatful that you are bold enough to write and publish this article.
    I am sorry that there are so many insensitive individuals who get to call themselves Americans by right. I have served in the Army and the ARNG for 23 years. I know my share of families that are without a parent because one of them has been called to serve and did not return. I know many broken families that are the result of the stress caused by the deployments and a conflicting world around them that does not understand what they are going through.

    I applaud you; I stand and salute you and your husband. We are a nation that has removed ourselves from who we were when this great nation was formed. We are so self consumed that we don’t even realize that we are guiding ourselves toward self destruction while seeking the next easy way to get what we want without the cost or effort t obtain it.
    Gone are the days of work first buy later. Earn it to own it. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Unfortunately we have also fled away from values of a God fearing country and protecting what our forefathers fought so diligently for. We are too quick to toss their souls aside and tarnish their sacrifice for us in the name of convenience and temporary prosperity.

    Few are left who are willing to pick up the sword and defend our great nation. I have served before, I am no 49 years old but I would serve again if calls like you have given were to fall on deaf ears. God has blessed our country beyond any of our possibly understanding. Complacency has become the norm. if we are not careful, we will wake up soon and find ourselves at the mercy of all the countries we have farmed all our industries and infrastructure out to. I for one will stand with you, pray for your family, your husband and his valiant defense of all we hold true along with all of our military that stands ready to protect this country, it’s right to say in “God we trust” and to be a nation that is free for all who live within its borders.
    We must also do our part to be sure we elect officials to run this country who also hold these same values without wavering.

    God Bless,

    October 13, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  27. Sean

    I'm sorry for your sacrifices, but Iraq is an evil and amoral war. It is also my duty as a patriot to question my government when I feel it has done wrong.

    How dare you try to law a guilt trip on me! When your family signed up to serve a government, they should have considered this. The citizens of this country are under no obligation to mindlessly back bad decisions.

    I'm actually angry at you, and would say much worse if I didn't realize the emotional trauma you are going through having your husband risking his life. Poor simple woman, but the world needs ditch diggers, eh?

    October 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  28. Bob

    We are war weary, but not because of the war, it is due to the24hour coverage day after day. I truly think it is the infighting here at home that makes these wars so difficult. The use of the media and the Internet give some people huge voices that would have never otherwise been heard. I think people are just so tired they think, end the wars and these people will go away.
    God Bless you and I pray he keeps your husband and his comrades safe!

    October 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  29. Stephanie from FL

    Unfortunately, I must agree with those who say that we are weary because we are in a pointless war that none of us ever helped to create. We're also weary of being disliked and even hated by the rest of the world, and of opinions of the individual are formed by the opinions of our government.

    I have a sister in the military, and I hate that she signed up. I don't want to lose a sister any more than you want to lose a husband, and I'm sure that many more feel the same. Please, for the love of our country and for our loved ones, stop your husband from reenlisting. If anything, at least one of us should be able to keep someone near and dear...

    October 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  30. Stacy

    I appreciate and honor the sacrifices our nation's military men and woman have made for our country.

    As a voting, tax-paying citizen of this country I have every right to oppose a war that hasn't done a single thing to make our nation a safer place to live. The only thing this war has done is to cost us many billions of dollars a year, created an increasingly fearful populace and given the government unecessary license to invade the private lives of its own citizens. We have less freedoms than we did seven years ago for absolutely no gains. Thousands of our nation's men and woman have been killed or injured in an illegal war.

    Your husband, for whatever reasons, CHOSE to join military. When you married your husband, you CHOSE to follow that life. Neither of you were forced into the life you lead with all its inherit risks and benefits. And I will support your choices, but that doesn't mean I have to support the war.

    I also think you're dead wrong when you make the sweeping generalization that most people in America don't know anyone in the military. People in the military come from all towns, counties, states, races and walks of life. I will make the sweeping generalization that nearly every community in the US has sons and daughters that serve in our nation's armed forces. How short-sighted of you to assume otherwise. Myself alone, a close friend was in the Air Guard, a former boss was career navy, my father-in-law was career Air Force.

    So, get off your high horse and maybe spend your time and energy trying to get your husband home and sending a message to our nation's politicians that the lives of our military's men and women shouldn't be lightly thrown away in costly war that for all intensive purposes has become another Vietnam.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  31. Laura

    I think that we as Americans need to support all of our military. I have several friends with children going or already in the military. That's exactly why I want us to come home. These children are those I personally watched grow up as if they were my own. I am sorry that your burden seems to be more than your fair share, but that's why I support the fight to bring our troops home and begin the process of repairing what the last 8 years has destroyed.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  32. Rick

    War Weary?

    I am weary of sending billions of dollars of taxpayer money into Iraq each month, which had nothing to do with The War on Terror in the first place.

    I am weary of the stories of people that I know/KNEW and friends of friends who were either injured or died in Iraq.

    I am weary of the mentality that we are somehow going to militarily/magically create a glowing beacon of democratic light in the middle of a region that, historically speaking, prefers war. They have been cutting off each other’s heads for thousands of years and we're just going to walk in and be considered liberators?

    I am weary of the mentality that we should not talk to and isolate countries that we don't agree with, like bullies on a spherical playground.

    I am weary of how much American blood has been sent to be spilled in Iraq while Osama bin Laden (you remember him, right? Tall guy, beard, hates America) is still out there eating goat-milk Cheetos in an Afghan/Pak cave.

    Am I weary of war? Damn right…but not as weary as I am of the idiots who wrote our team’s playbook. American blood is and should always be our most sacred treasure, and it should never be squandered under false pretenses of freedom as the current administration has shamefully done.


    October 13, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  33. Sheldon

    Rebekah – thank you so much for the sacrifice your family and you are making. Unlike so many of the bloggers that have left messages, you not only understand the sacrifice our military is making but also the reason behind it. For some reason many of them miss your points about how Afghans ask your husband to stay or ask him to adopt their children.

    I am amazed by statements like "Todd B" that "We should not and cannot change the world and the mind’s of its 6+ billion citizens by killing everyone that wants to kill us." So what does he think we should just set here and let them come after us?

    I am thankful for military families like yours that understand there really is a war against terrorism going on here – we can fight it there or we can fight it here.

    Please know that the vast majority of Americans believe in what your husband is doing and support you! Unfortunately those with other ideologies are the vocal ones.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  34. nani

    I'm a marine mom..........I have three sons in the USMC all three served in Iraq at the same time..........talkimg about being stressed out I was a wreck...........They are in the states now my oldest 28 with 3 year old twin boys will go back to Iraq next fall............his twin brothers are 25 all 3 are sgt's..........I'm very proud of them.......This is what they chose to do right after 911 when everyone else was running they were signing up to defend our counrty keep us safe and try to help the innocent in Iraq.... I loved your article..."GOD BLESS ALL MILITARY AND THEIR FAMILIES"

    October 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  35. Seth

    Mrs. Sanderlin,
    I appreciate your openness and honesty in letting those of us who know little about military life into your family's struggles and fears. I wish the best for your family.

    I must, however, address the phrase "war weary." You are right to suggest that America has little right to be war weary. I believe most Americans will have to sacrifice much more before things are again returned to right. I am not myself, however, war weary and do not think it's the right phrase to describe much of America.

    I am war disgusted. War appalled. War outraged. I am war-repulsed at the idea that so many heroic families such as your own would be asked to give so much in support of a cause so tenuous, so irresponsible. I am war-terrified that such an unnecessary fight is only destroying the diplomatic and military power of the United States abroad. I am war-sick to my stomach that so much is being sacrificed for so little reason.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  36. Wes Lane

    I too am unhappy with president Bush lying us into a war that we shouldn't be in, but to hear some brain dead idiot call the president of our country a moron makes my blood boil.
    The statement, theres no shame in waving a white flag is one of the most stupid statements I've ever heard somebody make
    As far as your two sons, if they are anything like you then they should stay home because being called an american hero is the least of their worries.

    Rebekah, our prayers are with you and your family.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  37. Sgt. York

    All the angry comments by anti-war people just confirm my anxieties that I'm terrified of the United States ever being in the position where we must depend on the average citizens to fight. The greatest generations is disappearing and our elders are now the "self-almighty" 1960s generation. Unfortunately many younger people of my generation have been fooled and coerced into believing the self-loathing rhetoric of this destructive, selfish and numerous bunch. I'm a veteran of the Iraq war, and I'm proud. I get it. I could write a dissertation why I get it, but it wouldn't do any good. I would just get over-shouted. However, I've accepted that most of the public doesn't get it, and probably never will. I just keep my fingers crossed that our battles are always fought by volunteers.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  38. Danielle


    I think you are a tremendously courageous person, and you write very eloquently. I really enjoyed your article, and have sent it to a number of friends and family members.

    For those of you that choose to spew the same old tired mantra, "Bush lied, we shouldn't even be in this war..." or some other varied version of "Monday morning quarterbacking," I have a guarantee for you: you will never be able to change someone's opinion who supports our troops, their families AND their mission, just as they would obviously never be able to pull your head out, so that you could see the world for the truly dangerous place it is.

    I believe in freedom of speech, as it is a right guaranteed to you – secured by people like Rebekah's husband. But I also believe that when you exercise those rights to the point where you sound completely socialistic – people get really sick of hearing it.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  39. Amanda

    I couldn't disagree with you more. Remember that there was not a draft. Men and women in the military joined voluntarily. I don't think a firefighter is making a sacrifice when he goes into a burning building; he is doing the job he chose.

    I find it pathetic when military families expect sympathy for the separation that parents endure from children. There is this little thing called birth control, which prevents you from having children. If you choose to have children in your circumstances, you aren't entitled to any sympathy for their traumas and emotional damage.

    The best thing that could happen for the military would be if everyone in it stopped reenlisting and no-one new enlisted. It would be a sign that people are waking up to the fact that they are being used as cannon fodder.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  40. Robert

    I agree that the sacrifices made by military families is unimaginable. Are you suggesting though that there is no appropriate way to debate our government's policy on the war? That's an even sadder situation.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  41. WR

    No one asked your husband to fight a war that neither protects this country or advances its interests. He volunteered himself, his wife and his children so that he can go off and slay dragons like a modern day Don Quixote. The only effect your husband's fighting has on my life is that instead of helping the poor in this country, giving children here much needed health care, protecing our environment, or giving people in this country tax relief, we are being forced to support a group of self-righteous and self-proclaimed patriots who are more interested in helping Iraqis than Americans.

    If your husband was helping this country, then he deserves my respect and support. Until then, I owe no deference to a volunteer.

    Fighting a war does not automatically entitle someone to respect. In fact, it is one of the least Christian things a man can do – the Catholic Church has deplored this war since its start as both un-Christain and as the antithesis of Jesus's example. The fact that he is dismissing his role as a father and wife only tells me one thing – he cares more about fighting a war based on false pretenses than his own backyard.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  42. Steve F

    Well said Rebekah. The burden of many is being carried by a few.

    I am dissapointed by several of these responses from people who obviously do not understand the dedication and capabilities of our enemies. The past cannot be changed. Success in Afghanistan & Iraq are necessary for our future. The cost of failure would be our demise (and return those peoples to oppressive regimes). We cannot tolerate safehaven for al-Qaeda, its likes, or its supporters. The world is too small today. If we don't continue to hunt them, they will be back with more force... For those of you who compare it with Vietnam, there are some similarities. There are thousands of reasons we cannot accept failure. For Vietnam, there are over 58,000 reasons written in black marble on the Washington Mall. Both conflicts aimed to provide people with a free & democratic homeland. But there is a bigger difference – the stakes are much greater this time. The Al-Qaeda & Radical Islamic idealogies call for worldwide Fundamentalist Islamic Law & its opponents execution. This is far more extreme than the ideas of the USSR & the world is much smaller today.

    For those of you who are so idealist to think we can quit these conflicts – I envy your blissful ignorance. But when you protest & call yourselves patriots – I am ashamed you cowardly idiots are my countrymen.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  43. Patrick

    It's not often that I get upset about something I read online. It's almost impossible to get me to actually write a reply in a comment section like this, but this article actually managed to make me angry. The author is both myopic and self righteous in her beliefs, and it's amazing that she seems unable to imagine the average American citizen being capable of having the empathy necessary to understand military family's sacrifices. It's obvious that she's been sold on the fallacious belief that if you don't support the war you can't support the troops. If there is any credit you have to give to the Republican political apparatchiks it is their ability to manipulate belief systems through a finely tuned propaganda machine. The current administration has manipulated the public, and apparently military family bloggers, to believe that support for the troops requires support for the war. I have several friends in the military that have fallen prey to this powerful meme as well. They hold your opinion hostage. "If you don't share my belief, than you must hate the troops, you are lazy, fat, unpatriotic, and unamerican." They turn an exceptionally complicated issue in to something one dimensional. As many other commenters have stated before me, it has nothing to do with our support of the troops, and everything to do with how we got in to this war, how it was conducted by the administration, what it has done to our country, and what is doing to help destroy our economy.

    I don't need your judgement.

    Oh, and by the way, lets bomb Iran or your a commie.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  44. Omar


    You seem to justify this war by virtue of your husband's participation. This is a logical fallacy.

    What you should be asking of our leaders is if they gave sufficient thought and preparation before sending your husband into harm's way. Or were they careless and reckless with the lives of America's soldiers and the Iraqi people?

    October 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  45. Judy

    Thank you for your perspective! My son dreamed of being a Marine since he was seven years old and is now in his second year of service. My grandfather – an immigrant – joined the Army and fought against his homeland (Germany) in WWII – he was captured and spent some time in a German prison before coming home. I watched in awe as he rose every morning to salute the flag. He understood what America is about. So when my son dreamed of being a Marine I understood. There is so much more to being an American than just living here. It is an ideal. It is knowing that you can voice your opinion – however ludicrous it may be! I also understand why we feel the need to share this ideal with other countries and why we feel so passionately about helping others experience what we have.

    Do I agree with all of the aspects of this war? Of course not. But we are there now. The last thing we need to do is raise the white flag. Imagine how we would be received by other countries if we did that. It can be compared to pulling a fish hook out of your lip – you certainly can't pull it back – you have to follow through!!!

    Thanks again for shedding a light on this. May God bless you and yours!

    October 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  46. Bob

    You are dupes. You've been duped by the inplementation of fear into the American culture. Fear controls our politics, our government, our education system, our military, our economy. This war is unjust – plain and simple.

    You mock non-military folk as being "war weary". For your information, This country belongs to "war weary" folk too – in fact there are many more of us than there are you. Who are you to speak so? How dare you mock the very people who make your livelyhood possible? You get housing allowances, bonuses, educational benefits, PX rights, pensions...many things unavailable to us "war weary" peons.

    You knew what you were committing to when an oath was taken to defend. Why is this a surprise to you? You didn't have to reenlist and take thos ejuicy bonuses.

    Then you go on to assert that we should take over for you, because your job is dangerous? Don't like what you've gotten your self into? Sure, just complain instead of doing something about it...oh, wait, isn't that what you're telling us to do?

    October 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  47. Troy

    Unbelievable. I am a vet. And you're whining appalls me.

    Buyer's Remorse? How dare you say that billions and billions of our tax dollars that we have contributed, or rather have been taken from us, is buyer's remorse. In your opinion we should just sit back and let the government spend our tax dollars as it see's fit and say nothing. You're asking for citizens to pitch in. WE PITCH IN EVERYDAY! Well this is America, if you have forgotten, and as a military family I respect you and the sacrifices that you have laid down and continue to live with. I know those sacrifices first hand. But don't tell me or the American people that we haven't contributed anything to this particular conflict.. I served my country and still do. And now whenever I get paid the gov takes a big cut to fund everything from pork to war and I should say nothing? You're damn right I'm war weary! We're all war weary. I'm not sure what military community you're inviolved in, but saying that the military community rolls its eyes when people say they are war weary flat out isn't true. Soldiers and their families carry the larger burden of this war, but its what you signed up for. You married a military man. You knew the sacrifice going in. Buyer's remorse and deadbeat dad's? I guess we know how you feel about the people you are supposedly fighting for. Its nice to know your sacrifice comes with strings attached.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
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