Spiders And Everyday Battles

A deployed soldier sent me an email with the subject line, “look what I killed in my bunk this morning.” Knowing his sense of humor, I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out, it was this lovely baby camel spider.

baby camel spider

Photo courtesy of R.O., Soldier

When I saw it I thought, if National Security rested on my small shoulders we’d be doomed. I can just imagine the phone call…

THE PRESIDENT:  Gina, we need you to go on dangerous mission. The fate of the world is at stake.

ME:  Will there be spiders? Because that’s a deal-breaker.

Along with stealthy insects

I know troops must have courage, stamina and skills for their particular job. But I also learned about the everyday battles when they deploy. Along with stealthy insects, here are a few others:

1. Keeping clean and dry

This impacts health in a lot of ways. It’s easier to do if you’re on a base with running water versus living out of the back of a truck in the sweltering heat in some remote area.  But even on bases I’ve had troops whose tents and surrounding roads would flood for long periods. Then keeping their feet dry would be a challenge.

2. Breathing clean air

There’s a reason that living next door to an open burning trash pit is recommended by no one. Yet some troops endured this.

3. Keeping weight on

My adopted soldier K lost 50 lbs. during his deployment. Hiking with 100 lbs. of gear in 120 degree heat will do this for you.

4.  Ground Hog Day

This refers to the movie where Bill Murray is forced to relive the same day over and over.  Many troops have told me they feel this way.

 5. Company 24/7

Yes, there is special bond amongst the troops. But imagine never being alone. After a while you want a break. Many troops hang blankets on their bunks for privacy. One amazing Air Force Mom made this awesome curtain. I love the phone holder and other interior pockets. I think this is a “luxury suite” compared to the usual.

bunk curtain

Photo courtesy of Kathy, Air Force Mom

bunk curtain- interior

Note the pockets. As for the pillow, it was given to this Airman by his daughter when she was little. It then became a deployment tradition.  Photo courtesy of Kathy, Air Force Mom.

bunk curtain interior with lights

Photo courtesy of Kathy, Air Force Mom.

6. Morale

This is one of the most important everyday battles because it influences so much. It can affect focus and performance as well as stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.)

A real break

A Vietnam Vet told me this:

When you’re a soldier, you’re always too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. Maybe you’re sleeping in the dirt. Maybe you have a cot. But it hurts. It physically hurts to be uncomfortable for so long. Then mail call happens. And it’s like a break from your reality.  A letter lets you go someplace else. You read it and you’re transported to a whole other world. And a package…wow… and for those moments, you feel better in so many ways. You forget how much you hurt.

I think it’s amazing that a simple letter could have a positive impact both emotionally and physically. There are no bad side effects and each dose costs 46 cents. This may not stop spiders or keep boots dry, but it does help with battle #6, Morale. It seems that’s one we can fight together.

© Gina left the mall, 2013

14 thoughts on “Spiders And Everyday Battles

    • I’m honored that you shared this post. As you know, my goal is to help close the divide between civilian and military, to share stories in a way that create a bridge between the two worlds. Your comment makes me feel like I’m on the right path. Thank you! And, as always, thank you for your service.

  1. This certainly brings back memories… there was a lift in morale the first day it snowed at our base in Afghanistan. Being surrounded by mountains painted pure white certainly is a sight to see. The change in terrain around you from desert tan to christmas white was like being transported home for a day to have snowball fights with your friends. Sadly, by the end of the day the temperature had risen and melted the snow away. The ground was all mud and back to miserable. We were now just cold and wet in Afghanistan. It certainly is hard to stay dry. This is a great read as are all of your posts. Thank you for helping people not forget what our service members endure.

    • Thank you for your service and for sharing this memory so vividly. The evening news and movies give most people ideas of what battles with the enemy may be like. But the “everyday battles” that troops and families face are largely unknown. The good news is –once most people find out, they care. And that’s helpful on all fronts.

  2. It’s really difficult for me to imagine what life on the front lines is like. Thanks for this post…loved the pictures of the soldiers’ beds. It’s clear that they don’t take anything for granted.

    • Thanks, I love the pics too! When I first started all this, I felt like I was learning about a different world. Now that I have some sense of what their service and sacrifice entails, I want everyone to know. Because ultimately, we’re in this together 🙂 And you’re right…they don’t take anything for granted. I think that’s why any touch of home means so much. Even if it’s from a stranger.

  3. This cracks me up on so many levels!

    When we were AF, our neighbor came home from the sand box and his wife chucked out every item he brought back on to the front lawn and promptly began jumping on all of it “just in case” a spider had joined him!

    My hubs talks about “Ground Hog day” a lot. Almost 2 continual years on a ship get’s awfully monotonous! Especially when you keep going to the same ports over and over, making even port call “Ground Hoggish”. Truly, the boxes he get’s are all that breaks things up.

    I LOVE the bunk cover! And we have that same pillow case! Hahahaha!

    Thank you for the good laugh! 😉

    • Thank you for the good laugh right back! I totally get the preemptive spider stomp..lol. And I have heard the Ground Hog Day comment from every branch of service, in all kinds of situations. Although “Ground Hoggish is new 🙂 That is also very funny about the pillow case! And thank you for bunk curtain comment. Since you love to sew you can truly appreciate what she did. I’ll make sure to pass along your kind words!

  4. Gina, I want you to know that I read every one of your posts. You are opening a new world to me; one that often fills my eyes with tears but always leaves me with a deeper appreciation for the men and women in our armed forces. Thank you. (But ,please, no more spiders 🙂 )

    • Thank you so much for reading! Your response is exactly why I am doing this. It means a lot to know that my not-secret mission is working 🙂 And don’t worry, we will be spider-free moving forward. Promise!

  5. Gina, I think I mentioned before that my older brother was a marine who served during the Korean War. Aside from a few short trips home his entire duty was spent in combat. He entered the military when I was 6 and became a civilian again when I was nine. He spoke to me often of his war memories and experiences and so I learned at an early age of the daily struggles and terrible privations he had to endure. My heart goes out to all the young men and women everywhere caught in the crossfire of war and to all those who, like yourself, can bring a little hope and light into their lives..

    • NP,
      Yes, you have generously shared some of the challenges your brother faced as a Marine. I am trying to imagine what it must’ve have been like to hear those stories as a child. I think it is amazing that he was able to share them at all. Especially back then. Maybe part of it was the fact that children love unconditionally. Maybe he knew you would not be judging him. But still, I am sure they were not all easy stories to listen to. I have learned again and again that the family serves as well. Part of your sacrifice was innocence. My heart goes out as well to all those in “the crossfire of war.” The things I do are small, but it is a great privilege to be able to do something. Even a small light can break the darkness.

  6. And this is why I’ve “adopted” a soldier. I’m about to adopt a second one. Hey – my kids are grown and I’ve been scouting the horizon for someone to nurture! HA.

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