Stepping off the plane after my fourth deployment I saw my anxious family waiting. Then they were running. That scene was to record one of the top moments in my life and it was definitely an emotional roller coaster.
My twin boys were clutching their blankets. It being midnight, they were well past their bedtime. As I picked them up I noticed how tightly they held on, not to me but to their blankets. I also noticed that both blankets were well-worn and a little frayed. What I didn’t know was the routine they had with their “Be Be”s and how important their “security” blankets were to them.
The sight of them took me back….
Bosnia 1997, can best be described as mud cake topped with two feet of snow. Into my 3rd year of marriage and on my 1st deployment, my lovely wife thoughtfully sent me a down filled German comforter wrapped in flannel. Not very military but as I was laying in a cot a couple of feet away from a kerosene heater I was one happy “camper.”
On my 2nd deployment I picked up a blanket from the Bazaar. I got pretty attached to it. It was a simple luxury that made the deployment a little easier. We moved from Tal Afar, Iraq and I just didn’t have room for it so I left the blanket and money to ship it home with my replacement. Needless to say, it was the last I saw of that blanket.
Our platoon spent a few days back in Mosul re-consolidating with the company and I ended up sharing a room with my battle buddy and fellow platoon leader. As we de-compressed, we had a chance to clean our gear, buy some trinkets and talk about the past year.
I found myself buying yet another blanket. It could be best described as a hundred Teddy bears sewn together. As our company prepared to move out of Iraq to Kuwait, I could be found at each day’s end, on my bunk, covered with this garish blanket in complete bliss – escapism at its best.
I was completely fatigued and ready to go home. Several months after getting home, the blanket was still on my bed, and my wife just looked at me with sympathy. Eventually, the blanket made it to the garage.
On my 3rd deployment, the Team made me a Daddy blanket for the duration away. It was even stenciled with “Daddy”. It always brought a smile to my face as did their thoughtfulness in making it out of camo material. The Army logos also added a very special touch. An instant and cherished family heirloom, it was a daily reminder that I was loved.
On my 4th deployment I found myself buying a blanket and again finding out that I had no room for it when it came time to redeploy. Luckily a battle buddy had room in his tough box and needed the extra padding to ship back some of his electronics.
How soon we forget our own needs for security. When I looked at my twin boys clutching their Be Be’s I briefly thought that it was somehow unhealthy.
The reality is…
We all have a need for security and sometimes we find its solution manifests itself in the form of a blanket. As I watch my own and others’ transitions from the military to civilian life I pause to consider those things that bring us comfort. The extended military Family is in a sense our blanket; we hold on to it, we cherish it and it doesn’t always make sense to those who have not felt it close.
As our Soldiers and family members transition into the civilian world, I would hope that friends and family offer a new blanket of security. One stitched with acceptance, understanding and the love that all of our service members and our families need to be healthy and to move successfully into the next space.
Heard Understood Acknowledged