Dear Uncle Sam,
Do you see me? I am the granddaughter of immigrants and the great-granddaughter of immigrants who came to this country for freedom to live the American Dream. I am the daughter of a man who also served in the United States Armed Forces. I married a naval officer who fought for freedom.
Uncle Sam, did you see me home alone on September 11, 2001 as my husband rushed off to the base? Uncle Sam, were you at the Legal Office on base when I was signing a will and the power of attorney? Uncle Sam, were you aware of my bedtime ritual while my husband was off on some secret mission? Did you see me managed to work full-time and volunteer at the base? Did you see me use my leadership skills to try to cultivate a supportive climate in a spouses’ club with several members who were more interested in the secrets the service members kept and also wearing the service members’ stripes as if the rank belonged to spouses, too?
Uncle Sam, I carried my dependent card as a military family member. Why did you ignore me? Why did you allow my husband to come home and bring all the wounds of war to hurt me? Uncle Sam, you did nothing to help and you turned me away when I asked for help. You did not even warn me with the courtesy of an “Incoming!” so I could duck and cover.
Uncle Sam, you contributed to his addiction when you gave him speed for his missions and then Ambien to sleep. Because he witnessed the horrors of war and was not properly treated upon his return home, he turned to more drugs. He even while on active duty went to off base doctors to get them. Uncle Sam, you did nothing to prevent it. I was the one who got him to go to Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed, but you, Uncle Sam, have staff that failed to do their job. You even allowed him to check out his medical record and never followed up when he refused to return it. Your system failed to have him complete his yearly physical and your system allowed his retirement without the completion of medical forms as well as the TAPS program.
All the while, Uncle Sam, you are proud of the soldiers who go elsewhere liberating Muslim countries while allowing soldiers to come home and abuse their families. Yes, Uncle Sam, you allow domestic violence.
I still kept coming to you for help. Did you see me at Bethesda Naval Hospital asking questions? Did you see me on the phone with a Vet Center social worker? Uncle Sam, what do you think happened to me after the Vet Center licensed clinical social worker diagnosed my husband with PTSD and addiction and he refused to get help. Uncle Sam, you refused to help my children and me.
Uncle Sam, are you proud that you sent soldiers to make the world a better place while I ended up in a domestic violence shelter with my children in a state with crooked attorneys and judges that force children to have unsupervised visitation with a drug addicted father and refuse to allow the move to family for support and healing? Uncle Sam, I lost my livelihood in the moves to serve you. I lost my freedom upon the soldier’s return home. Uncle Sam, do you see me? Are you proud of what you have done? Are you proud that you allowed the destruction of my family and I am left to wonder every Fourth of July what is the point of Independence Day when my independence is taken from me.
Oh, what sadness you bring to the souls of my ancestors who came to America for future generations to have a better life. None of them knew the dangers and tragedy of being a military spouse.
I wish you could see me, Uncle Sam. But you no longer recognize me. I no longer carry a dependent card and now I look nothing like the woman who served you. You allowed your soldier to abuse and you have supported his actions to take away freedom.
A Former Commanding Officer’s Wife
“Leka,” a former commanding officer’s wife, writes about her struggles at www.thecowtalks.com.