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Written by Kurt Hoffman   
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 15:20

theringlerfamily

Reflections on a painful separation from family and the joy of reunion after deployment in service to our country.

 

A Frustrating Deployment

By Chris Ringler

 

                I remember like it was yesterday, I was sitting there on our couch trying to find the right words to tell my beautiful wife and my sweet young daughter that I was leaving on a deployment to Afghanistan. It was the middle of June of 2009, and my wife and I were expecting our first son to be born in July when I received the news. To me this was so unfair. I have waited so long for a son, and now that he will be here in less than a month, I have to leave. I was so angry. Anger was not the only emotion going through my head; I was also scared and worried about my family. I knew from the time that I heard the news it was going to be a long year.

            July 7, 2009, came around, and my first son was born. It was the most awesome experience holding my son for the first time. I knew I had to make the best of the short time we had as a family, so we hurried back home once we were released from the hospital and settled back in at our home. Before I knew it, it was the end of July and time for me to leave, and that is when I became angry. I was mad that I had to leave my family; knowing it was my job and my duty did not make it any easier for me to leave my wife and children. I was steaming like a boiling pot of water, just knowing that the place where I would be for a year did not even want our help. So, why should I help, but my late grandfather always told me “war ain’t fair son”.

            Before I left, I had to attend some routine training, and I understood better what my grandfather met. After seeing all the things that the military was training us on for our safety, I became scared. At first, I tried to hide the fact, but it wasn’t long before I was calling my wife, crying like our newborn son. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if I was in a movie. There was something different there. I could not sleep or eat, and constantly there were explosions and alarms going off. Like my buddies that were with me, this was not the atmosphere we were used to. I remember talking to them, debating how much we would tell our wives simply because we did not want them to worry any more than they were. I knew my family was just as scared as I was.

As all of this was going on around me, I could not help worrying about my wife and children back home. As a husband and a father, it has been always my role as the family protector, but while I was gone, my wife took that responsibility along with many others. Feeling helpless that I could not protect my family was without a doubt one of the biggest challenges I faced.  

            This experience that my family went through in support of our nation has brought out many feelings, anger, fear and worry for my family. There are some days even now when my wife and I are reminded of the trials that we faced, and how they have made us stronger. I have said before and I will say it again; my wife and I have been through more in our seven years than some have been through in twenty years. We both still get angry at the military as we will in a few weeks because the military believes my presence in a camp half way across the U.S. is where I am needed to be this July. It seems like I can’t win in July.

 

Our Deployment

 

By Davida Ringler

 

            When my husband deployed with the United States Army in September of 2009, I too faced a lot of challenges. I went through many phases of feelings. I felt angry at first with my husband and the Army. I had to learn to adjust to being by myself, and I had to learn to do things my husband did for us. I learned a lot about myself when my husband deployed. I grew as a person. I built a better sense of independence, and I found a new sense of confidence. I still remember the night my husband came home from work, and told me he got “the call.” My husband received a call from the commander while he was at work. He had called my husband to give him advance warning his orders were in the mail, coming certified signature required mail. When my husband told me, my first reaction was to go numb. I was numb with shock. I then began to feel anger, anger that my husband was leaving me, and that he had made this obligation. Our son was just barely a month old, a son we tried for years to have, and now I would have to go through the first year alone. The timing was horrible. It was not fair to me. This is all I could think of was the anger and pity for myself. I held all this feelings inside, of course. On the outside, I had to remain strong for my husband. My main concern was him and I had to be his rock. Once he left, I broke apart. I was just going through the motions. I was just living one day to the next not trying to accomplish anything. I just tried to make it from sun up to sun down. I had decided I had enough of this miserable attitude and wanted to something positive for me, my kids and my husband. I decided to locate a home in my husband’s hometown.

 

            I rented a home in Oldtown, Maryland and had to move from Smithsburg, Maryland to our new location all by myself. I had a difficult time with this adjustment. The first night in a strange place was horrifying. I also had to learn to do things around the house my husband once did. I had to shovel the snow from the driveway and change light bulbs high in the bathroom. It was close to the holidays when I moved, and I remember breaking down a time or two. Going to thanksgiving and Christmas functions were the hardest. Being around family without my husband was hard, because ordinarily he would be there beside me. I had a really hard time in the beginning. I felt as if I had lost my best friend. Eventually, I learned to cope with my feelings.

 

            I began to understand I was not alone, and soon I would be reunited with my husband. I knew I had to recover from my sadness. This time I had to be strong for my children. I knew they needed me. I began to settle into our new home. I got use to doing the outside chores. I’d joke and say, “I was the man of the house”. I learned how to work a weed eater, and was so proud of myself for that. I cleaned out the shed all by myself. I replaced the pity with pride. With this new sense of pride came confidence.

 

            When my husband was home he always made the phone calls, to the phone company or just to call a store to see if they had a certain item. I was always too nervous to make the phone calls myself. It seems silly to say now, but I would not make any calls. I would always ask him, and there were those times he just did it because he knew I would not want to. It was a known thing between us. When my husband was deployed, he was not able to make those calls for me anymore. So, I had to make the calls. I made the first calls when I moved, calling the phone and electric company. Then, not long after our move, the car broke down, and I had to call the shop. Before I knew it, I was a phone pro. My anxiety over a simple phone call had disappeared. I was able to take care of these things all on my own. I was confident with myself. I became a more outgoing person. I found my voice.

 

            I now can go out and strike up a conversation with a stranger. I can now call the phone company, without preparing first. When I go to school, I have no problem talking to fellow students. My husband’s deployment helped me to find myself. I can do things around the house now, without having to yell for my husband, even though still do sometimes to make him feel good. I was able to take a horrible situation and grow from it. My phase of anger and pity was also a learning experience. Through this hard time, I learned just how much my husband meant to me. He truly is my best friend.

 

Davida and Chris Ringler were students in my on-line English 101 class during the summer of 2012. When they submitted the following essays on dealing with an ongoing frustrating experience, I was immediately struck by the human face they both put on the struggle between patriotic service to our world and the immeasurable strain such service puts on the families of those engaged in war. I applaud them for successfully enduring a situation that has been repeated thousands of times through the years.

 David E. Bohnert Associate Professor of English and Speech  Allegany College of Maryland

 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 15:42
 
Comments (1)
He said; she said
Jeff Davis
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 20:11
Though it can't change the difficult situation that you had to deal with, you can know that many, many people have the utmost respect for what you sacrificed. Thank you for serving our country.
While many do not agree with the foreign policy decisions of our government in regard to the current situation in Afghanistan, the men and women who serve in our armed forces are always to be honored.
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