Last Saturday we spent some time with two couples, the husbands of which were deployed with Jon in 05-06. We had an incredibly fascinating conversation (gotta love those 2am solving-the-world's-problems discussions! :-) precipitated by a question posed from Jon.
First, let me give some background- Shawn has been in the Army in one fashion or another for 16 years. Active Duty Enlisted, then later as a National Guard Officer. They have a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 1-year-old.
Andrew (aka "Mac") has been in for... uh... a little help here, Lori? I don't know. I think longer than I have been alive! He was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and has led a fascinating life. He also spent time Active Duty and National Guard, Enlisted and Officer. He has deployed with the Army 3 times (I think?) and last year went back to Iraq with Blackwater working security.
I tell you that just to say- this group is as "Armified" as any. Experiences are broad and varied.
So when the question was posed: "What does supporting the troops mean?" - the answers were equally as broad and varied.
I think that's what was most interesting to me. For each of the three Soldiers and each of the three spouses, it meant something different. It meant different things to each of us both on the giving and receiving end.
What we agreed on was that it is different for everybody, and that basically, if a person FEELS like they're supporting the troops, they are. Or, if a Soldier (or any other person in uniform) FEELS supported, then someone is doing the supporting. We agreed that it is an attitude above all, but that actions must follow.
Lori made a great point that love languages play into it- which is why how Mac feels "supported" and how Shawn does and how Jon does is different.
Some thought that the yellow stickers on cars were a great sign, others thought it was a futile showing. Some thought packages and letters were great, others wanted to be left alone. The guys (and spouses) appreciate being thanked by people, though most admitted that was more because they know it really meant something to the person saying it than that they wanted to be recognized. The idea was also thrown out that getting involved in the political process- even just understanding the war- is the best way to support our troops.
I think it's easy to find ways living in a place like Savannah, Georgia, where every other person you see is military. But what about someone living in Cedar Springs, Michigan, who possibly NEVER sees or is exposed to the military?
I have a lot of other thoughts on this. Our conversation the other night was well over an hour long...
But, before I rant too much, I'm going to ask again, whether you're a member of the military, a spouse, or a civilian- What does "Supporting the Troops" look like to you? You can read people's comments the last time I posed this question here.