- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband hates the Army, and he has been mistreated. My husband is sick and cannot go to Afghanistan, but his unit is making him go anyway. He has back trouble and knee problems too. His doctor said he should not deploy, but still his unit is making him go. We contacted our congressman but nothing has been done.

I can’t believe they are trying to make my husband go to Afghanistan when there is not a true mission over there. It’s not fair because we just moved here and haven’t even had the opportunity to get settled in yet. My husband has been in the Army for only three years. He did not sign up for this. Can you help us?

- No Fairness in the Army

Dear Fairness,

I think you should get ready for your husband’s deployment to Afghanistan. It looks like that’s where he is going, so don’t spend too much time discussing what’s fair. Anyone who joined after Sept. 11, 2001, had to know what the future would be like for a soldier. What was he thinking?

Many soldiers have numerous health problems, but they are still deployed. Many leave behind sick spouses and children with numerous problems, but they are still deployed. I also must say, many soldiers and spouses never complain. They cope with moving to a new area and a husband being deployed two weeks later. They are left to move into new quarters or other homes alone, register their children in school, find employment, attend school, etc. Somehow you just do it.

Does anyone really want their spouse to be deployed? The answer is no. I don’t think there is any soldier who really wants to be there either. I think it’s time for you to get a pre-deployment plan together. Your husband’s family readiness group would be happy to assist you. Also, depend on friends and other family members to help you through this deployment. It won’t be easy, but you can get through it.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’ve been keeping up with your writing since last year. I know you are not going to understand what I am going to say and will probably pass judgment on me, so I’m not asking for your advice. I am just asking for you to print this letter so other girls can learn from my mistakes.

I am 18 years old with two children. I have no GED or diploma and no real skills. I got married about two years ago. My parents said no, but I did it anyway because I was hard-headed and wanted to spite them. Well, I’m the one who is paying the price now. I have nothing.

After living in a military town and living with deployments, stress, no money and trying to find friends in the military, I’ve only received evil looks from other wives - like the officers’ wives. They were mean and acted like they were better than me. They are no better.

I stopped trying to do anything. I started partying, clubbing and, yes, cheating with other men. I knew it wasn’t right, but I did it anyway. Now my husband has left me. I have seen him only one time since he came back from Iraq. The only good thing that came out of this was my parents drove more than 18 hours to come and get me and my children.

To other girls out there, listen to your parents, finish high school, go to college and make something of yourself. Don’t lie down and have babies. And whatever you do, don’t mess around with soldiers; your life won’t be easy because the military life is only hype. You give up too much and receive too little in return.

- Moved West to start over

Dear Moved,

I’m sorry you feel that I would judge you harshly. Who am I to judge?

You’ve had to grow up too soon. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from your experiences, and you can turn each of them into a positive one.

I can see many issues in your letter I would like to address, but I won’t. Tell your parents I said thank you for coming to get you and your children. Please take care of yourself and your children.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I recently had to put my 16-year-old son out of our home. I just can’t take his behavior any longer. He swears at me, refuses to do chores and has caused a lot of trouble in the neighborhood. He hates his stepfather, who is deployed right now and will be returning soon.

My husband gave me an ultimatum: either my son or my marriage. My husband refuses to be bothered with him anymore. I want you to understand that my husband has tried very hard to make a go of this relationship. I think my son needs to try harder. I love my son, but this is my third marriage. He was the major cause of the problems in the other relationships, including the problems with his father and me even though we weren’t married.

I have tried very hard to make my marriages work, and they always seem to fail. I will not let this one fail. I am 36 years old and I think my chances for true happiness are getting slimmer. Sometimes I feel like my son will soon be on his own doing his own thing and I will be left alone without a husband or anybody. Do you think he is trying to ruin my chances for happiness?

- Mother and Son

Dear Mother,

I think you should be willing to give your son as much time and consideration as you have given your husbands. Your son’s behavior may not be acceptable, but I can’t place the blame on your son for your failed marriages and other relationships. You may have put your son out of your home, but he is a minor and you are still legally responsible for him.

I’m not sure whether he is trying to sabotage your chances for happiness, but I think his message is clear: He wants your attention, and he’s getting it any way he can right now. Don’t succeed at keeping your marriage and fail your son. If you can understand the human frailty in other adult males and give them the benefit of the doubt, then you should do the same for your 16-year-old son. It should be understood that he still has some maturing to do.

Your son needs to graduate from high school and have an opportunity to go to college or pursue some other viable options and interests. He deserves parents who will assume a parental role and provide unconditional love. This can’t happen if he’s not in a stable environment.

Maintaining a marriage is not always easy. I’d be the first one to yell it from the pews. Being a mother is difficult too. It’s not easy. I know firsthand. However, a mother is a person who gets her reward later in life; when your children call you and say, “Mom, thanks for never giving up on me.”

I would also advise your family to get some counseling. You and your son can start before your husband returns. Call Military OneSource and they will connect you to a family therapist in your community. Don’t delay.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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