Newspapers daily report casuality lists from Iraq, but none bother to list casuality figures among the wives of men fighting in a war far away from home. Bana Miller, wife of an
Army officer, was thrown into the role of grief counselor when men of Bravo Troop headed overseas. In this role of heading a 24 hour hotline, Mrs. Miller dealt with women who were emotionally devastated by the absence of their husbands, some even threatened to enter a mental institution if their husbands could not be returned home. Mrs. Miller is one of 3,000 such volunteers heading hotlines to provide some source of emotional help to those who live in daily fear of becoming widows. As men come home and go back for one more tour, the stress of spouses and hot line leaders becomes even greater. Many simply burn out from the stress of trying to offer some help knowing full well they simply lack the means to offer assitance to anyone other than a shoulder upon which to cry or a face onto which one can vent anger.
The Marine Corps is finally recognizing unpaid volunteers are not the answer to emotional issues and is spending $30 million over the coming years to shift from volunteer to paid professional help while the Army is spending $45 million to hire 1,000 full-time workers. But, lost in the rhetoric about “success” or “failure” of the surge is any reference to the 500,000 military spouses and the 700,000 children who live in daily fear of their father or mother’s death. One question, which reporters might well pose President Bush, is why no provision was ever made in the so-called “planning” of the Iraq war for aiding families of those who are serving. Why do the armed forces have to wait four years before realizing full-paid professional care workers are needed to assist spouses and children of those who fight? The emotional stress of combat is horrible, the emotional stress of not knowing loved ones may be killed is also stress. I wonder if George Bush ever halts for a moment of reflection and thinks about what his venture into war has done to Americans back home.