Sunday, March 1, 2009

The War Against Motherhood?

It's a rare moment I use my blog for a political agenda, mostly because I feel strongly that I should know what I'm talking about before spouting off my own strong opinions. And frankly, I'm not all that knowledgeable when it comes to politics, or even history for that matter. (Little Jackie trivia: my dad called me "Rudolph" growing up -- because I was always 'going down in history.')

But I read a story tonight that makes me fearful -- totally terrified about the lack of value put on what's right for families of our country.

Four years ago, a North Carolina woman was honorably discharged from the Army. She gave birth while in uniform and again after she was released. Now, mom Lisa Pagan is among the thousands of former military men and women who are being recalled to service, even though they've all left active duty a long time ago.

Ok, there's a war -- I get it. And this isn't the first time in history that people were forced to serve against their own personal wishes. But the idea that Lisa -- who appealed the ruling that requires her to report because she's the only one to take care of her kids while her husband travels for business -- was forced between choosing to head back to the Army, abandoning her kids and facing the chance of being deployed to Iraq, or ignoring orders and potentially face charges.

Am I the only one who thinks this is absolutely horrific? This isn't some woman trying to use any excuse to get out of jury duty! We're talking the future of two children who just happen to be the exact same ages as Jacob and Brady. They are the children of a woman who did her job... served her country... deserves our gratitude for her bravery. She's a woman who should now be allowed to continue committing her life to her two innocent babies and not wonder if she'll be sent away, never to see them again.

I am not only shaking my head at this baffling situation, but the rest of my body shakes along with it. I am truly upset that this is what is happening to our friends, our neighbors -- the families of America. I am saddened and confused. I understand that this is the risk that goes along with joining the military in the first place (and maybe why they don't have enough people joining the military to cover their needs). But please enlighten me -- is there someone out there who can explain this to me, give me ONE reason that taking this woman from her children could possibly be the right thing to do for our country?

We've had countless conversations -- even debates -- here on T-O about the dedication moms vow to their kids and how our very different choices could affect them. But one thing remained, we were talking about OUR choices -- about how WE make decisions first and foremost for our families, even though others may not agree with those decisions that are best for us. Never did I think our country could or would make them for us, forcing us to separate.

So while Lisa spent today braving the stormy 400 mile drive (with her children) to report for duty, I spent mine with the kids enjoying a relaxed and carefree day. And while the day winds down and she's most likely lying in bed awaiting her fate, I will head upstairs and hug them one last time before they drift off to sleep, knowing their mommy will be right there waiting for them in the morning.

19 comments:

Michelle Morse said...

As much as I agree with you on this, what about all the other men and women that leave their children behind. She made a choice to join the armed forces knowing the risk. I am not at all saying that I feel she should go back...as you know I think this war is a complete joke, waste of money and most importantly a waste of human life! She should of considered the risk before she joined. I do give her many accolades for joining the armed services and defending our country. She has more balls than I will ever have!!!

Jackie said...

I read about it on another blog since then and have seen a lot of people saying the same thing.

Thanks for commenting, Michelle. I agree there are many others who leave too... I just had no idea you could be pulled back like that. Now I'll cross my fingers that my kids never want to join. Selfish, I know -- but my feelings!

Michelle said...

I don't blame you at all. I feel the same way about my kids! When my brother was in Iraq, my mother had more fear those four months than I have ever seen before. However, she new he made the choice to enlist and the chance of him being called up to go to Iraq was high. My brother was one of the lucky ones...he came back to his wife and kids in one piece, unlike many others who don't. Hopefully, our new President will follow through and bring the troops home by August of next year...then this conversation will eventually be a moot point!!!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I feel the same way. I had a friend whose dh was/is in the military and he was five days - five days - from being discharged when they 'stop-loss'ed him forcing his discharge to be delayed so he could abandon his family (sole support mind you of a wife and 2 yr old) to serve 15 months in Iraq. It made no sense. He was five days from being done (something he wanted very much) and they forced him to go back. He doesn't have a whole lot of respect for the government because of it. This happened over a year ago and I've lost touch with the friend since but it's pretty scary what's going on just to 'win' some war the majority of people no longer believe in.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

That's not to say I don't support those who are there (one of them being my cousin) but the forced issue is what's getting me.

visualperspective said...

I don't think it is just wrong becuase the choice to join the military was the mothers, and when joining she would have been informed of things like being recalled. An amazing number of our troops currently overseas were not active duty troops until they got their recall notice, it's a part of joining the military. This is a case of understanding the consiqueneses of your choices before you set them in stone.

Sarah said...

From the prospective of a working mother with a stay at home husband who just happens to be former military: When joining the armed forces, you are making a commitment. MALES AND FEMALES are making a commitment to serve. The stay at home dad would have the same responsibliity to report for duty that a stay at home mother would. Military familes make sacrifices every day. That's just how things are... and they knew the risk of being called to active duty when they signed up. Children are going to miss their parents male or female while he/she is called to active duty. Period. Gender should play no role in this debate... and for all of the women that say... oh... these babies NEED their mommies... I hope they read my situation and start some thinking.

Jackie said...

Sarah, I am so on board with you. Jeff is the primary caregiver during most of the daytime hours. By no means am I saying that the mother needs to be home every second of the day. I guess I was just expressing my complete lack of understanding that when you're done, like completely done, with the military that you could be called back at any time. Does that mean one should make decisions in their life that revolve around the possibility of being called back?

I'm so naive when it comes to matters like this and truly wanted readers to provide me a little more understanding.

I think it's great Kevin is such a huge part of HC's life. From one working mom to another, you've never seen a father/child relationship like the one here. And that's an incredible start to a healthy emotional life.

Jennie said...

I'm appalled that the military would recall her. I understand she made a choice to join, before she had children, but the idea that she would be forced back into service is scary.

And yes, I understand there are countless fathers who are called back and stop-lossed. Mothers, as well. But I weep for this woman and her children, just as I weep for all military families.

Becky, Dean, Drew & Luci said...

Hmmm, I'm on the fence about this one. On the one hand, she joined, married and had children while in uniform with full knowledge that she may be called back after being discharged for a certain amount of time...she knew this. On the other hand, there are appeals set in place for just this kind of situation. She made her appeals and those were rejected by the military. Her husband travels for a living and asking him to stay home and care for the kids is tantamount to getting fired from his job. Asking his employer to be merciful is a bit much in this economy. Does this couple not have ANYONE, family or friends, to step up and take care of these kids? The kids are very young and at this age are generally resilient and would get used to the situation of mom being gone, Dad on the road a lot and "Grandma" or whomever taking care of them. Then again, what if the worst happens and mom is killed in action?

There are so many what if's in this situation. I just don't know how to think. If it were me, I'd be desperate for an appeal, then again, if it were me I wouldn't have joined in the first place! Kudos to all our troops for doing job I know I'd be incapable of doing! I wish her the best!

Rebecca said...

Wow, interesting debate here... I am not sure how I feel about it. Internally I did feel shocked and upset when I read this story in the news, but I think that was more an emotional reaction; as a mother who stays home with her children, I can't imagine being called to military duty and not knowing if I would ever come back to them. But the fact does remain that she knew this might happen when she signed up. It still doesn't take away from the pain of the situation... but I don't know if I would go so far as to say the military was WRONG. At least, I can't make that judgement with the little information I have. It's really just heartbreaking, the whole story!

Anonymous said...

When you join the Military you are signing a contract for so many years of Active service and so many years of Inactive. Most of the time you serve 4 years of Active and if you choose to get out you still can be called back for the next 4 years. It was her choice.
Sorry but true.

J-Ko said...

Great post. Check out our new Military Moms Group in the momlogic community. It's a great place for moms, wives, sisters, daughters and loved ones of those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces to discuss hot topics and share support. http://community.momlogic.com/group/militarymoms

Pam said...

This is such a tough issue. My dad served in 3 wars, starting at the age of 18. When he was 45, he was sent to Vietnam. He was able to be there for my birth, but was gone the first year and 1/2 of my life. It's truly tragic to think of parents leaving their families and facing a very real danger. I will say that for my dad, my brothers were teenagers when he left, and he said it made him very protective of the younger soldiers. If there is any silver lining, maybe it's that these men and women are watching out for other parents children. I do think it's gets psychologically tougher to serve with a family, and I admire those who do it greatly. But I'm one of the lucky ones. My dad came back and it proved to be one of the most amazing relationships in my life. Even though he's gone now, not knowing him would have been the real tragedy.

Sarah said...

Jackie, I wonder if this would get ANY media attention at all if this was a stay at home father that was being called to active duty and the mother had a job that required travel. I'd bet $5 the media wouldn't bat an eye.

Rebecca said...

Jackie - don't know if you saw this already, but the mother we've been discussing is being discharged from duty.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090302/ap_on_re_us/military_mom

A mom who can't imagine joined armed services said...

There is no draft. I can't understand a mom who would join the armed services in the first place. (Or who wouldn't quit once she became a mom.) Why would someone potentially put her child in a predicament that would make them motherless at worst and leave them for extended periods of time at best....

Tisra said...

Gosh, I felt so mad and irate and horrified and nervous when i read your post. BUT, reading the comments, I guess I see the other side, too, now. Thank you Sarah and Rebecca for reminding us that this is a possibility that any serviceman/servicewoman knows of when their contracted time with the military is up. I do stay home with my kids, and can't imagine someone making choices for me about what I need to do. But, I guess that's life. The same situation happens to a stay-at-home-mom who must suddenly return to work if her husband looses his job, or dies, or they have unexpected medical costs that just need to get covered (now with 2 incomes).

All that to say, I can see both sides to the story now.

Tisra
waiting to bring Dorothy home
http://www.bdhq.net

The Clark Family said...

Call me sexist if you like, but I strongly feel that is why serving in the military is the responsibility of men. Not that women aren't capable of serving well and doing the job, but because they have an even greater calling. I lost my father when I was young. I know what that is like, but I can't imagine loosing my mother or even having her risk her life like that. Women are very special largely because of their capacity to me mothers. The military shouldn't be forcing women to serve, especially when they have children to care for, father present or not. I feel your frustration.