About a week after I announced my Congressional Exploratory Committee, I got a surprise in my email inbox. It was a set of orders to report for military duty for the National Guard. I knew the orders were coming. I just didn’t know the details. Now I do. I start next Monday and won’t be released from my obligations until sometime in May.
Don’t worry. This isn’t overseas duty. It’s stateside training. You’ll still see me around and most nights I’ll be sleeping in my own bed. I have plans in place for my business and have coverage for my clients. But I can’t do election-related activities while I’m on orders, and that includes activities for myself. The Congressional Exploratory Committee will just have to wait.
Susan and I have been through this before. Together, we’ve supported four overseas deployments, ten stateside missions, 22 formal schools, 24 training exercises and almost 1,600 days on orders. That adds up to about 20 percent of our life together on some kind of military status.
Often, members of the National Guard must move rapidly back and forth between civilian life and military duty without adequate transition. Susan and I call that “Guardsman Whiplash.” One day we’re watching a high school baseball game together at Northwestern. The next day, I’m on an airplane and she’s home with the kids, not knowing where I am or what I’m doing. Then a few weeks later, we’re back at the ballgame like nothing happened. Most of our neighbors didn’t even know I was gone.
I’ll pick up the Congressional Exploratory Committee where I left off when I complete my military duty. I wasn’t planning to make a decision until summertime anyway. In the meantime, please think about all the other National Guard Members and their families who experience “Guardsman Whiplash” on a regular basis.
If you want to learn more, please consider reading Twenty Percent Soldiers: Our Secret Life in the National Guard, by Kevin and Susan Dellicker. All proceeds benefit veterans and military families.