color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Home... to the Place Where They Belong

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Home... to the Place Where They Belong

He was days shy of his 18th birthday and the country days shy of war when he joined the brotherhood. It wasn't a surprise to anyone. He had always wanted to be a soldier.

Three months after high school graduation the recruiter came by and took him off to MEPS and a whole new life and a whole new home. He did well in basic training and absolutely loved Airborne training.

He was assigned to an Infantry unit. He said Army life was everything he imagined it would be. His unit had already done a deployment to Iraq and they trained incessantly for the deployment he knew would come. He thrived.

When he was 19, he received his orders to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He spent Christmas with his family and friends just weeks before he left. I was there when he left his US base for Iraq.

Just days after they arrived in Iraq, SFC Salie was killed.

Just weeks after arriving, he celebrated his 20th birthday in the Sandbox smoking cigars and eating birthday brownies from home. Sometimes he drove Humvee; sometimes Bradleys; sometimes he rode; sometimes he gunned; sometimes he walked. They walked a lot.

They lost CPL Long and 1LT Harris.

In the ninth month of his deployment, after surviving more than 25 IEDs, he was wounded by a VBIED and evacuated first to Germany and then to the US for treatment of his head, neck and spinal injuries. While he was in Germany he heard that his battalion had lost 1LT Diaz, and days later his friend SPC Matt Bohling and after that his friend Sgt Benford.

While continuing his recovery, SSgt Schelbert was killed and then, as if to deal one more punch, he lost his friends SSgt Summers, SPC Byrd, SPC Corban, SPC Hardy and SPC Watkins in a single IED attack. The journey of grieving and burying those with whom he served -- trained, ate, slept, joked, fought with --covered here, here, here, here, here, here, here ... and especially here.

The rest of his friends returned from OIF3 in waves. He was returned to his unit... and he re-enlisted...

Although beset by severe and chronic PTSD, he was determined to remain in the Army, do his duty... serve his country. It was not to be.


His buds deployed again but without him... and he began the dismal and nightmarish process of being medically discharged... MEB, PEB, etc. and learned first hand what the news reports said about the Army shortchanging soldiers on disability ratings.

He opted not to prosecute a formal appeal of the PEB decision and accept the initial disability rating... for many reasons -- not least of which were the experiences of other soldiers on medical hold who learned the hard way that if you appeal = you will be punished.

As if that weren't insult enough, Army Transportation is arriving to pack and move their possessions a week before they have to vacate the Army housing (they expect the soldier and his family to sleep on the floor and buy meals out???) and they are being made to leave their Army housing five full days before his orders allow them to leave the base (they were told to get a hotel or bunk with someone else.) I kid you not. I wish I were. Noah and his pregnant wife will sleep on an air mattress on the floor first at their home and then at home of another disabled soldier.

So within a few short weeks, Noah will be medically discharged from the US Army and will no longer be an active duty soldier... he and his bride "M" will make the trip cross-country and will stay with us retired folks until they get a little settled: do the VA thing, enrolled in college classes, look for a job, find an apartment, await the birth of their first child... you know -- get on with life.

So in days when he drives away from his home of the last four years, I will no longer "officially" be a "soldier's mom"-- although I will always be some soldier's mom and will forever be Some Soldier's Mom.

I'm staring out into the night,
Trying to hide the pain.
I'm going to the place where love
And feeling good don't ever cost a thing.
And the pain you feel's a different kind of pain.
I'm going home,
Back to the place where I belong,
And where your love has always been enough for me.
I'm not running from,
No, I think you got me all wrong.
I don't regret this life I chose for me.
But these places and these faces are getting old,
So I'm going home.
Well I'm going home.
"Home" Chris Daughtrey

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11 Comments:

At 8/05/2007 4:12 PM , Anonymous Susan said...

My prayers and thoughts will be with Noah and his wife and baby and you and all the rest of your courageous family. You have helped me through one deployment and the soon to be next one. Your comments and emapthy are what keeps many of us Moms from letting the worry overwhelm us. My daughter has been in 11 yrs and its not easy. She will likely spend her 30th birthday, as she has all her birthdays, away from home. Sincere thanks to Noah for his courage. Best wishes for a safe arrival of your grandchild.

 
At 8/06/2007 5:36 AM , Blogger Tammy Munson said...

Good luck and Godspeed to Noah, his wife and baby!

It was so nice to talk with you last week on the show!

 
At 8/06/2007 7:47 AM , Blogger Stacy said...

Will be thinking of you all and wishing them a safe trip out West.

 
At 8/06/2007 8:36 AM , Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 08/06/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

 
At 8/06/2007 8:53 AM , Anonymous Melinda said...

I know the adjustments that will need to be made are daunting, but I know you & the Mr. can do it. Just love him up and love up that wife & grandbaby-to-be before sending them out into the world again. Noah has been an inspiration to a lot of people and I believe in my heart that his legacy to his country will be that positive changes will be made for those who come after him.

 
At 8/06/2007 1:24 PM , Blogger auntybrat said...

Bless you all..my prayers are with you...

 
At 8/06/2007 5:35 PM , Blogger Debbi (no 'e' on the end) said...

I pray that all goes as smooth as possible during this transitition in all your lives. Know that we are all there for you whenever you need us. Please take care.

 
At 8/06/2007 7:42 PM , Blogger Homefront Six said...

One last final "screw you" from the good ole Army, eh? Odd question but do they have an AeroBed? Definitely worth the money. Having spent plenty of time on air mattresses (and yes, even while pregnant), I can vouch for them.


Many, many prayers during this time. For ALL of you. Noah and the rest of you have never been far from my thoughts.

 
At 8/08/2007 8:16 AM , Blogger Lavine said...

Tears fall as I read your blog. My prayers and heartfelt thanks to Noah and all his sacfifices he has made. There have been many..too many I know. He is a survivor and will rise above and better things will come his way. Still I know our hearts as a mother ache so much for him. My prayer is for you too as you journey this long road with him.

 
At 8/09/2007 10:51 AM , Anonymous Military Granny said...

SSM
You never quit being a soldiers Mom. My son left the military in April,I am still a Mom to dozens of young men serving in the military. I wish nothing but the best for your brave son and his wife. And all of you have a little angel to look forward to. God Bless you all.

 
At 8/10/2007 12:20 PM , Blogger Sean from DocintheBox said...

I'm sorry I didn't come by my last trip, I did look at your house though from above and said, I know who lives there. Thanks for the kind words, it's been a rough week. Sounds like your sons hasn't been much better, why can't these things be smoother?

 

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