Being Deployed During the COVID-19 Crisis – Among Other Concerns

I am not one to compare hardships and I won’t begin to do it here. There are always pros and cons to any situation. Sure, I envy those that are locked into their respective states and homes on quarantine. I would love to not have to go to work, be able to game, binge watch tv, drink and eat to my heart’s content. Unfortunately there are so many of those people that aren’t getting paid anymore while they are away from work. 

Thankfully that is one of the benefits of being in the military. No matter how crap the situation, you’re still going to get paid on the first and fifteenth of every month. However sometimes it does seem as if the financial aspect of it all is the only positive. And while of course I love being financially stable as much as the next person, I am not a monetarily driven person. So you could understand why it is hard to stomach when this seems to be the only positive. 

Yes, we ‘signed up for this’. We signed a blank check with our names on it and all those other things people like to say to make it sound heroic. Why did I join the Army? To be different. To carry on in my own unique path I’d set out to blaze for myself. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. Never venturing out, never doing anything better. Never making any impact on the world. I’m an ambitious person. I must climb, I must do better, I must evolve. There is no satisfaction in complacency or being stagnant for me. 

No, I don’t do it for applause or recognition. Hell, I don’t even know what to say when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” What are you supposed to say back to that? Especially when it’s a Vet wearing a combat service hat…you’ve seen nothing compared to them. You haven’t seen combat at all. Sometimes you feel like an overpaid janitor and babysitter of children. 

However, I have been seeing an alarming response from the American people about our military. Last night I was reading the comments on a post a military member had made gently reminding people that yes while it is terrible that you may not be able to do the things you want to do right now, that events are getting cancelled and maybe you’re not able to make those all those memories you wish you could, be thankful that you are home with your family. Be thankful that you are home at all. Because there are a vast majority of us right now that don’t actually know when we will be home again. 

I saw maybe one positive comment in three hundred on this post. And the comments were shocking. Never have I seen such negativity towards the United States Military. So much animosity. 

“You volunteered for this.”

“Stop whining.”

“Glad we have cry babies like this defending us.”

“Don’t compare my kids not getting to have a high school graduation to you being stuck on deployment.”

“You’re still getting paid, stop complaining.”

You get the picture. 

It is certainly reassuring to know that this is the attitude of the people we are serving to protect. Yes, we get paid to do this job. Yes, we volunteered for it. Yes, you’re welcome that there aren’t nuclear missiles headed toward the United States at this very moment. 

Another comment that amused me greatly: “I don’t see any military driving trucks to get people the supplies they need.”

😐 

My question is, why the animosity? Can we all realize that everyone has a job and place in our current and present world to assist? Active duty is deployed across foreign countries, and stationed in their respective places. The National Guard is being called on to assist with the COVID-19 crisis. Truck drivers are working long hard days to carry essential items where they are needed. Medical personnel are working tirelessly to take care of the infected. Amazon is delivering pantry boxes. Uber Eats even waived their delivery fees and gave the option to leave your food at your door with no contact. A huge majority of people are staying inside, following the prescribed quarantine. 

Yes these are trying times. But if you’re stuck at home, why not find the positives? Why not use this time? Create something. If you’re the artistic type, write, draw, make music. If you have kids, make this a memorable time that they will remember forever and tell stories to their children. 

I would give pretty much anything to be back in the states right now. That should have been the case, but instead I am deployed rather indefinitely for the time being. No end date. Replacements were diverted to other places. We will not receive high deployment pay for exceeding our orders because the Secretary of the Army hasn’t signed off on it. Future deployments are expected to closely mirror our current one. 

The barber shop is closed. We can’t get haircuts to maintain our physical appearance unless we want to attempt a disastrous barracks barber or do it ourselves. Mail has been shut down. The PX won’t be receiving any more shipments and no word as to when that will change. Every time you go in the shelves are emptier. The base is running out of shower and drinking water due to a water well situation and water contracts. 

As we near 365 (on what was originally a nine month deployment) for the first time I am feeling concerned for individuals developing issues while we are still here and reintegration issues when we return. I don’t want to hear scoffing that “you didn’t see combat” “you’re a pog” “you don’t even have it that hard”; this is the type of toxic mentality that attributes to so many military suicides. The thought that people won’t care because they weren’t shot at. The thought that they shouldn’t have anything wrong with them. Being embarrassed to admit they have crippling depression and anxiety. Pay attention to those around you. Don’t allow people to isolate. And admit when you need help. Be open with your soldiers and encourage open lines of communication. You never know what tragedies you could prevent just by being real. 

As I stated in the beginning, I won’t compare hardships. But I will send a gentle reminder: be thankful. Be thankful that even though the shelves in your local grocery store might be running low that you have ample water, you have food, you have a comfortable place to lay your head every night. And I would hope that you have your friends, family, someone in these times to talk to and receive comfort from. Reach out to people. Now is the time to do it. 

Life will always be what you make of it. You can’t control everything. Honestly you can control very little most of the time. You can only control your reaction to it. 

Don’t lose your humanity. Don’t be selfish. Make the world a better place by starting in your own community. Don’t hoard everything. Don’t buy more than you need. Check on your elderly neighbors and family. Take them supplies if they need it. 

Check on your friends. Check on everyone’s mental health. We are all having a hard time. And go ahead and trash millenials for making jokes and making this entire situation into a meme fest. It’s fine; I can guarantee you we are just as upset and concerned as everyone else. The difference is we have learned how to find comfort in humor, no matter how dark or depraved. Everyone should have coping mechanisms and perhaps maybe more people should discover theirs. 

And for God’s sake, stop buying all the toilet paper. You look like an idiot.

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