As the news continues to widely broadcast the upcoming withdrawal of our troops from Iraq next month and December 31 nears, I can’t help but to feel torn in this decision. To many that may seem absurd, but to the ones that have walked in my shoes, it makes sense. We have lost close to 4,500 service members in Iraq since the launch of the war in March 2003 and many more have come home with more injuries than the military can have complete count of from PTSD, TBI, to many physical injuries.
In March of 2003 we officially declared war on Iraq, making that the beginning of a long and formidable time for many. During this war time we have lost many, not just in the sense of death, but also in the person the service member was before ever being deployed overseas. As a society, it is easy to look at the death count and pray for their families. However, far too often the ones returning home that are forever changed are forgotten about.
As the year comes closer to an end, so does the troops time in Iraq. We are approaching the withdrawal deadline and many are coming home permanently changed. More than most could imagine, have returned over the years with this permanent change I speak of. The men and women that were sent overseas to fight this war, are reuniting with their families upon their returns and are battling demons within. These demons are known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The one thing that can never be regained from war, is the person that left home to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the valuable time that was missed while they were away with their families.
I write this from the perspective on an Army wife, one that has sent my husband off to Iraq for two different deployments. My husband returned home someone that I didn’t know and someone that our children and I had to get to know. War took away the man that I fell in love with and in return it left me with a stranger that I am still trying to learn and get to know. My story is one very similar to many. I live with a husband that struggles with PTSD, has multiple traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, nerve damage and so much more. We have three children that will never know how their father use to be before he was faced with deployments and doing things that most of us could never imagine.
As elated as I am that our troops are returning home and one chapter is being closed, I find myself torn in this decision. Through it all, I cannot help to feel that somewhere along the line the timing just isn’t right at this point. How can we look at the widows and widowers or the parents that have buried their children or the children that no longer have their parent and expect them to understand the reason their loved ones were lost? How are the families that have been left to pick up the pieces of their veteran that has returned, but is mentally and physically changed, supposed to put a smile on their faces when the time over there has become focused on things other than the truth? Now that an ending is in sight, many veterans are asking the age old question, Was it worth it? While society is ready to move on, there are still numerous individuals that will be left to continue picking up the pieces.
Was our time over there worth it? Did we serve a full purpose? I know many admirable things were done while our troops were deployed to Iraq, but was the point served and are we really ready to withdrawal? I also find myself filled with the curiosity if this will lead to something more in the upcoming years with our return back into another war zone in Iraq.