Saturday, October 10, 2009

Onward to the Northwestern Frontier!

So it's official! In 3 weeks, we're off to a Navy weekend workshop in Spokane, Wash. The workshop is called the "Returning Warriors" Workshop and it's for people who have recently come back from Iraq or Afhganistan.

Even though Leo returned more than 4 years ago, he's going to be running it for his command, so we have to go check it out. Basically, it's a 2-day workshop where they put you and your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend or whatever up in a 4-star hotel with NO kids allowed.

The military used to be really strict about only allowing spouses before to this stuff, but they've lightened up in the past few years. They've come along way from the days of, "If the military had wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one."

They've realized that family and relationships are important and that a happy soldier who doesn't have to worry about his loved ones, is a more productive soldier and one who is less likely to get himself and others killed.

Anyway, so this workshop has classes like, "Couples Coming Back Together", "Money Matters" and "Why I Want to Go Back". A lot of people don't realize how hard and difficult it is to adjust when your spouse has been gone for 9 months to a year in a combat zone.

It's tough for both people. The whole relationship dynamic can change. For example, if the man had previously done everything around the house and then leaves, the wife has to learn how to pay the bills, how to fix the garbage disposal, how to juggle kids, a dog, chores, a job, etc.

A lot of times, the woman (especially if she wasn't very independent before) resents it when the man comes back and tries to take over. The man is upset because he doesn't recognize this new woman.

This is just one example but I know personally from our separations, it's very hard to get back in the groove. It's like you have a stranger in the house for the first couple of weeks. I've never met anyone who can just jump back in and pick up right where they left off.

A friend of ours has been in the Philippines for 6 months and she's nervous about seeing her husband again. It's just a weird, shy, awful feeling.

There's also a lot of infidelity that happens during deployments (on both sides). Sad but true.

When soldiers come back from Iraq, I know how hard it is for them to adjust. When Leo came back the second time (he was injured and earned the Purple Heart the first time), it was really hard for him to pass under highway overpasses because in Irag, insurgents used to wait for a convoy to pass under them and then set off a bomb.

I remember one time driving in Philly and he almost made me pull off the highway rather than go under a bridge because there was a truck parked on top of the overpass and he had a flashback to Iraq.

He came back in late June and had a very hard time with the 4th of July fireworks that year.

Also, a lot of guys have survivor's guilt (that's why they have that class on helping them understand their feelings about wanting to go back). They have the class on money management because our military is paid so poorly, that a lot of the junior enlisted guys make such little money, they qualify for food stamps.

But anyway, this is a happy post about our upcoming trip.

I've planned it all out. We'll stay in Spokane Friday through Sunday and then drive down to Coer d'Alene, Idaho (about 1 hour away I think) and then on to Missoula, Montana.

Neither of us has been out to this corner of the country, so it will be totally new for us. Any suggestions on things to do would be greatly appreciated!

We are going to do a day trip to Wallace, Idaho which is called, "The Silver Capital of the World" and for some reason, "The Center of the Universe". I'll let you know if I find out why.

While the building to the left may not look like much, it's one of the places I really want to see. It's the Oasis Bordello Museum and it was the last operating brothel in Idaho, finally shutting its doors in 1988.

It was converted into a museum in 1993 and showcases how the working girls of the period lived.

They also have a gift shop on the ground floor. Not too sure about that one.

I also want to see Garnet Ghost Town outside Missoula, Montana. Growing up in Michigan, ghost towns were things you only saw on "Scooby Doo"

If anyone has ever been out this way or has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a both enjoyable and productive trip!

    Best of luck... enjoy :D :D