Many years ago, my soldier was in Afghanistan. There was an IED and then a phone call. And then there was me scrambling to obtain a passport in case I needed to be in Germany. There was worry and sobbing and pretending everything was okay to the kids. And then there was the neighbor across the street from me. A woman I had considered a friend. A friend who looked me in the eye and said to me, “Well, he knew what he signed up for.” Like we were talking about a transaction instead of a person who had offered to put his life on the line for something bigger than himself. Like he was buying a piece of crap car and then had the nerve to be shocked because it was in the shop yet again.
I’ve heard that sentence more times than I can count in over 20 years as a military spouse. I shouldn’t think it was hard to often parent alone or be sad when he deployed or struggle with trying to be all the things to all the people because I too knew what I had signed up for.
NOBODY knows what they’ve signed up for. Ever. They just know what matters to them. And what’s worth fighting for. And they realize that sometimes those values and ideals come at tremendous expense. And they decide that they’re willing to write that check. And if that check is cashed, it makes their lives no less valuable and the loss of those lives no less tragic.
We live in a country where men and women write blank checks for ALL of us. So we can choose not to. So we can benefit from the blanket of their protection.
The very least we could do is honor the sacrifices they make without diminishing their service.