My Soldier Ships Out
Knadler, Jessie, Newsweek
Byline: Jessie Knadler
The atrocity in Tucson, the protests in North Africa, the economy's continuing saga. It's easy to forget there's--hello!--a war on terror still raging in the foothills of the Himalayas. But not for me. My husband, Jake, a captain and 10-year veteran of the Army Reserves, is being deployed to Afghanistan for at least a year as part of President Obama's draw-down effort.
As of this writing, Jake and I have four weeks and change to tie up our lives, slaughter 25 chickens, and stock enough wood in the woodshed to keep me and our new baby girl warm next winter. The thought of single parenthood while keeping our farm in rural Virginia going is, as you might expect, daunting. Jake is the unflinching optimist who says things like "I'm alive and I'm free and who wouldn't want to be me?" with a straight face. And he won't be here.
So sometimes I try to reassure myself with cold calculations, dollars versus cents--what's in it for me? Can you blame me? The other day I mused on this with our next-door neighbor Gerald. With the deployment, I figured, at least someday we'll be able to send our daughter, June, to college on the new G.I. bill. Jake will come home a major. Jake will earn six figures of tax-free money!
"No, what it really means," Gerald said, "is there are people out there who still believe in this country." I looked away because I thought I might cry, but Gerald was right: my husband is going to Afghanistan because he is a patriot.
To help us prepare, the Reserves recently sent us to a splashy two-day "family readiness" event at a fancy hotel in Charlotte, N.C. A hundred-plus soldiers and their families were briefed on legal issues (lots of talk about power of attorney), taxes, finances, health insurance, child readiness, and the "emotional cycle" of a deployment. …