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Support, understand service people

This past semester, I was enrolled in a service learning class called ENG 2070: Intermediate Writing.

Throughout the course, my instructor had been sharing mounds of information with us about the military with special regards to veterans.

Through extensive research and in just hearing about the various stories of active and retired service men and women, I have learned that sometimes, veterans just want to share their stories.

It’s vital that we listen to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

With that being said, I’d like to share the story of my cousin Matt.

He is a veteran serving in the Army National Guard. In talking to Matt about his experience in the military, I learned a lot about what it is like to be a male in the military, serving tirelessly without complaint.

Not only did I learn more about my cousin as a man, but as his role in his new marriage, with his new family and with his new identity as a soldier in the military.

There is a particular part of my conversation with Matt that profoundly stood out to me. Matt explained to me how he found out about his deployment shortly after marrying the love of his life, Amy.

He expressed to me the great amount of marital struggles that being away from home caused him and his new wife in the first couple of months.

In addition, after being home for a short time, Matt and Amy discovered that they would be expecting their first child in a little less than a year’s time. This brought great joy to this newlywed couple.

Amy continued to nurture their unborn child while Matt was thousands of miles away, fighting for the freedom you and I enjoy each and every single day.

When it finally became time to welcome their little bundle of joy into the world, Matt realized that there was no way possible to make it back for the birth of their first child, a baby girl.

He wasn’t able to align his leave with the birth of his child. Extremely upset with this news, Matt decided to make the most of his situation by watching his daughter being born via Skype.

This social media platform is often used by military personnel and their families. As you can imagine, this brought tears to my eyes.

I feel like something could have been done to ensure that my cousin was able to come home to see a moment like his first child’s birth.

Not knowing a great deal about the leave policies of the military, I did some extensive research thanks to the help of my instructor.

While I think that it is great that military personnel are entitled to several days [and consecutive days to be even more specific] of leave per year, it saddens me greatly to know that the news of a wife going into labor doesn’t make the process of asking for leave move any faster.

In addition, in learning about the exhaustive leave procedures, I often found myself confused about what constitutes emergency leave and what doesn’t.

I fully understand the fact that I might not comprehend the various laws, forms and proper procedures that go hand in hand with taking leave from the military because I am only a civilian; I start to question the validity of this process. I have now found myself wondering if the military and our government are making this process so difficult that military service men and women end up throwing in the towel when it comes to following through with an ask of leave.

I wonder if the motives behind this are to save money or to make these men and women work longer and more days for the same or less pay.

Finally, I wonder if the military has the best intentions with its employees at all.

I think it’s important as college students and as Americans to educate ourselves as much as we can about our military and the service men and women who sacrifice so much for our freedom.

Listening to and sharing the stories of military personnel allows people all over the world to advocate for those who cannot or chose not to advocate for themselves.

In the eyes of many service men and women, this is truly supporting our veterans.

Linsday Garwood

[email protected]

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