Hug a Vet

No matter what you believe about the war, today is a day that is about the people behind the political controversy. It’s about recognizing those who have seen the horror of war firsthand, who were willing to give up the comfort of home, and made sacrifices on our behalf.

Both of my grandfathers were in the military. My maternal grandfather actually snuck into the Army (I am pretty sure it was the Army, right mom?) at the age of 16 and served in WWI. My paternal grandfather never had to fight in a war, but served in the military and even completed his medical training at Luke Air Force Base in AZ. Since my mom’s dad passed away long before I was born, I never had the chance to ask him about his war experience. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be so young, far away from home, and in such a volatile place. I must say, though, that while I have had family members in the military, the reality of the sacrifice of a soldier was still very impersonal until the first day of my freshmen year of college.

BTW, you are going to have to indulge me today, because this post is really in honor of one of my favorite people in the entire world. And, I have decided that she needs to know just how amazing she is and that she is totally post worthy. 🙂 So, if she’s the only one who reads it, I am totally not offended. Okay then.

Captain Haus (like your little blog nickname :)) was my next door neighbor in the dorm. We became fast friends. She was also a freshmen, but in addition to being a college student with me at our small liberal arts school, she and a couple of other students would drive across town daily to a larger University where they participated in their ROTC program. I remember seeing her polishing her boots, slipping into her BDU’s, and heading out every afternoon. I wasn’t really sure what she did exactly, but I knew she worked hard. Sophomore year, we roomed together in the Babe Cave (I’ll tell that story some other time) and I got an even better idea of just how hard she worked. In addition to her classes, she would have intensive field training exercises throughout the year, during which she had the pleasure (NOT) of eating MRE’s the entire time. I actually remember her bringing home an extra one time and us attempting to “cook” the spaghetti. I think it had the same amount of flavor as a jar of baby spaghetti. Back to my point, daily her alarm clock would go off at ungodly hours so that she could wake up and go to PT (physical training) and return just as I was just starting to think about getting out of bed. I remember being amazed by her strength. She never complained and when she was in uniform it all made sense.

After graduation, she went into the Army full time. There were many people that didn’t really understand her choice, because not only is Captain Haus a strong woman, but she is also intelligent, creative, beautiful, and talented. There were a million things she could have excelled at in the civilian world. I think it is hard for people to understand a woman’s choice to join the military and to be honest, I don’t think I really understood it either in the beginning. But, the more that I listened and learned through our friendship, the more I began to carry a deep, deep respect and admiration for her choice. It didn’t seem crazy as many seemed to think, but amazing.

My admiration grew the first time she headed off to war. I’ll never forget listening to the radio on the morning of September 11th as I drove to work. I was stunned, as we all were, that something so horrible and unthinkable had just happened. When I arrived at my job, at The Mall of America, I was met by officers turning me away, as the mall was completely shut down. For a place that only closes 2 or 3 times a year to close its doors per a government mandate for security purposes was frightening. As I drove home, the tears were pouring down my face. I wasn’t worried about more attacks, or if my family would be safe. The only thing I could think about was Captain Haus and what a war might mean for my dear friend. Would she be sent to fight? Would she be okay?

As you can guess, my fears did come true and she was deployed. Not once, but twice. I remember the phone often ringing at 1 a.m. during her first deployment and practically jumping out of my bed in hopes of getting to hear her voice. Each time we would hang up, I could not help but cry. I knew she was good at her job, well trained, and that whatever her mission, she would excel. But I was still fearful. When she came home, I was so relieved. So selfishly glad that my friend made it home. Time passed and then it happened again. She called to say she was going back. This time, I felt not only sadness, but anger, because not only would she have to leave her husband, but her baby boy as well. He is only three months older than BQ. It’s one thing to know that soldiers have to leave children and spouses at home, but it’s another to have to watch a friend go through the reality of being separated from her family. Her bravery astounded me. Thankfully, she again came home safely. (A big shout out to her awesome hubby who also sacrificed much while she was gone in caring for their son and supporting her so faithfully.) And now, she has two little boys to love. She is an amazing soldier and an even more incredible mom.

She has taught me what it means to live out what I believe, to be faithful to my promises even when it means self sacrifice, and to put the needs of others first. I am so proud of her and so thankful that there are others like her who serve and give to us all each and everyday. And even though this blog post is a day late, because it took me two days and some tears to write, I just want to say to you, Captain Haus, thank you. I celebrate you not only today, but everyday. Thanks for teaching me cool Army lingo, how to cook an MRE, and how to properly apply camo (can you imagine how rockin’ our Friday nights in the dorm were. yah, that cool). I love you and you by far are my most favorite Vet.

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