Happy Halloween! This mom can quite easily associate her son’s military service with a popular Halloween statement: Trick or Treat.
The Treat? Having a son I was already proud of joining the military just weeks before 9/11 happened ten years ago. He had been a military brat and knew the majority of what to expect: military post assignments, TDYs, perhaps eventually military housing should he marry sometime down the road.
The Trick? Wasn’t a nice one at all. We were attacked and the son I raised was more determined than ever to leave for basic training, stating it was more important than ever that he go. That Tuesday ten years ago changed the path of his military service. My son would go to war.
His deployment was a constant heart thumping time. No haunted house could compare with the fear and anxiety I and so many other family members across the nation went through as our brave men and women went to war on our behalf. The news would tell of a casualty in his unit and we would wait for hours by the phone and door. My mom instincts could usually tell me he was okay but I still had to wait for the final message from the post: “The family has been notified.” The treat was it wasn’t him. The trick was someone’s soldier or Marine was killed and families have survivors’ guilt, too, as we knew it meant someone else was receiving that heartbreaking news.
Scary movies are all the rage this time of year with goblins and ghosts, vampires and werewolves, Frankenstein and witches being the major costume likes. But just as I discovered the old war movies about the 40s weren’t really happily ever after stories, I learned that coming home didn’t mean the war was over. In some ways, it was just beginning as we were introduced to battle buddies my son brought home: TBI and PTSD.
So yes, to use the phrase Trick or Treat, this mom can definitely associate it with life after deployment. As so many of you are experiencing, you never know what each day will bring. The trick is to know it’s happening in families all over as we deal with the aftermath of our loved one’s time in a war zone. The treat is to know that you are not alone. We are all here for each other.
If you haven’t been able to find a support group in your area or even if you have, know that we are here and understand the daily roller coaster ride life has dealt your family these days. Whether you are a spouse or a parent, there are others who identify with your role in being part of a family of a vet.
My wish for all of you for Halloween is that you experience treats and the tricks bypass all your lives today so that you can enjoy a Halloween comparable to life before PTSD and TBI. Happy Halloween from Family of a Vet.
Submitted by Monica Newton