Monday, March 3, 2008


Parental Post Deployment Distress Syndrome

Today was Parade Day in our town. I took the day off to watch the parade with friends I've watched it with for many, many years. Our church youth group always sells "chairs", snacks and drinks in this particular spot to earn money for their summer trips. So many past Parade Days me and my kids were the "workers", though usually one or the other of them were in the parade. It was a bit sad to walk down there by myself, without them.

But worse was when the High School ROTC marched by. As soon as I saw them come in to view I turned my back and said to the two friends I was talking to, "this is going to make me cry." Cry was too mild a word to describe what happened to me. I did cry, heavingly so, and I trembled and became lightheaded. These two friends patted me on the back and said soothing things and it (and the ROTC) passed in just a few minutes.

It is hard to say exactly what about seeing those young people in their Army ROTC uniforms set off this "event." Was it a reminder of the years that Kris and Austin were in the ROTC and that I miss them so much? Was it the reality that some of those cadets would soon be joining the "real" Army and going off to war? Was it just a reminder of the military that got too close to me? Or a longing for my life when all of my children were home and I was Mom?

Most likely it was a combination of all of these and possibly more. "Parental Post Deployment Distress Syndrome" is what it felt like. Not to diminish the very serious PTSD suffered by those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I believe that I, and many mothers who have lived through one or more deployments, also experience residual suffering.

In total, as a mother and a mother-in-law, I have "survived" five deployments; the last with both of my sons in Iraq at the same time. Mothers cannot endure such emotional distress during the deployment(s) and have it just vanish when our children are back safe in the US. We just can't do it. Yes, the fear of impending tragedy goes away as soon as they return. But the experience of living in complete fear for so long leaves emotional scars on all of us.


Hootin' Anni said...

Hi...I'm checking and updating the Blogger Over 50 Blogroll, and noticed you no longer have the roll linked on your blog.

Do you still wish to be part of the blogroll?

Mel's Mom said...

Write when you can- we're still reading