So, today I had to spend three hours at an Army briefing about what to expect when your soldier returns from deployment.
If you've never had the pleasure of being part of an Army briefing, thank your lucky stars. They herd a bunch of people who don't want to be there (briefings are almost always mandatory, otherwise no one would show up) into a large auditorium or conference room, and then people from various departments talk to you about things that may or may not actually be important. Also, there will be Power Point. Somewhere along the line someone decided that you can't gather more than three people together in the name of the Army without having a pointless Power Point presentation. I think it's part of the oath when you enlist.
I used to have to give briefings to new company commanders when we lived in Germany. I often resorted to hurling hard candy at their heads to wake them up. There's nothing like a butterscotch to the eye to make power point slides suddenly seem really interesting.
Briefings involving the spouses are a little more entertaining. Soldiers' careers depend on maintaining a certain decorum in all situations. Spouses have no such requirement. Someone always gets their panties in a wad over something and makes a scene. Add in the stress of one's husband being gone for nearly a year to one of the more dangerous areas of Afghanistan and multiply it by 150 women and your briefing is suddenly a powder keg just waiting for a spark.
Today we had not one, but two wives who had be escorted from the room, and a third who screamed that it was discrimination against infertile couples to forbid her from bringing their dog to the hangar for the homecoming.
Army wife drama aside, these are the things we learned that we can expect when our soldier returns home:
- The routine you've created as a means for survival and maintaining sanity? He will completely destroy it.
- He will want to eat All The Things for at least a week.
- He won't be able to sleep for weeks. Could be jet lag, could be PTSD. If he tries to kill you, it's probably PTSD.*
- He might try to kill you.
- He will want to spend thousands of dollars on guns and cars. [I had to laugh at this one because Will's last few e-mails have been about buying guns and cars.]
- Flying around war zones in helicopters while getting shot at is kind of a rush. He'll try to recreate it by doing things like going 100 miles an hour on a motorcycle without a helmet.
- He'll want to buy a motorcycle.
- Taliban insurgents are preferable to screaming, whining children any day of the week, so don't take it personally if he would rather go back to war than deal with your kids.
- He will want to have The Sex all the time, but you will just want him to do the dishes.
- Did we mention he might try to kill you? This Power Point slide has the number you can call if at any time he tries to kill you.
Golly, January just can't get here fast enough!
*I'm not trying to be flippant about PTSD. It's a very real and very serious thing, but that was almost an exact quote from the briefing.
**UPDATED! By popular demand, THIS and THIS are now available in my shop.