Monday, March 31, 2008

Bad Idea

Bad bad idea:
BAGHDAD - When American soldiers get off duty in Iraq, the men usually return to their quarters, the women to theirs. But Staff Sgt. Marvin Frazier gets to go back to a small trailer with two pushed-together single beds that he shares with his wife.

In a historic but little-noticed change in policy, the Army is allowing scores of husband-and-wife soldiers to live and sleep together in the war zone — a move aimed at preserving marriages, boosting morale and perhaps bolstering re-enlistment rates at a time when the military is struggling to fill its ranks five years into the fighting.
There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to start.
"It makes a lot of things easier," said Frazier, 33, a helicopter maintenance supervisor in the 3rd Infantry Division. "It really adds a lot of stress, being separated. Now you can sit face-to-face and try to work out things and comfort each other."


Still newlyweds, Sgt. Amanda Christopher, 25, and her husband, Sgt. Matthew Christopher, 22, said the change in rules has been a blessing for their nearly year-old marriage, four months of which has been spent in Iraq.

Both work at the military hospital in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where Amanda is a licensed practical nurse and Matthew is in patient administration, which can include mortuary duties.

"Some of the stuff I've seen, if she weren't here, I'd be a lot less cool about it," Matthew said as the pair sat inside their potpourri-scented living quarters — a mere 120 square feet, with a TV set atop two black lockboxes, an impressive collection of stuffed animals and a Chicago Bears plaque. "There was one night in particular, I saw something and I just thought, 'Oh, God.' I came in here, talked to her for a few minutes, went outside, took a deep breath and I was good to go."

Are we at war? If you seriously can't do your job without seeing your spouse daily, might I suggest a career other than the military?

Of course, it's not like these married couples are going to be sitting watching the paint dry:
The only downside of married soldiers sharing sleeping quarters, she said, would be an increased risk of pregnancies.
*Only* downside? No, that would be ONE downside.

Because of the prohibition on public displays of affection, the Christophers declined even to put their arms around each other for a photo.

"It's not like in the civilian world where if you see your boyfriend at work you can just go, 'Oh, hi, Babe,'" Amanda said. "We're in uniform, and we have to maintain a professional demeanor at work."

Fear not, they're professional. It's not about being professional. It's about being in the profession of arms, it's about unit cohesion, it's about caring for someone more than you should, to the point of it affecting the mission:

Living together, however, doesn't stop the Hegenbarts from worrying about each other's safety. Sometimes, it can make it harder.

"Because we're so close out here, we know to the hour when our loved one's supposed to be home from a mission," Jessica said. "So if they're late, our brains starts going to that place where you start to wonder what went wrong. That happens more often than I'd like to admit."

Like I said: bad BAD idea.