Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Sudden Soldier's Wife

Today the Hubs and I woke up early, pretty usual...except he didn't leave and go to work, instead we got to be together until a bit later in the morning actually, which was nice...until I drove him to catch a bus at 10:00.

Harald was called up for military service and will be gone until Friday evening. He's about two hours South of here, at his reporting/training camp with another batch of men local to our area, and region as well.

In Norway, like in many countries in Europe, every male citizen has the duty and obligation to serve their country once they turn 18. Now this doesn't necessarily mean being in a branch of the military and doing all that might entail, if preferred and acted on these young men can choose to serve their country in a more civil-service manner by being placed in a facility that helps the elderly or mentally ill, or even a more secretarial side of the armed forces. If one chooses to bite the bullet so to speak and voluntarily join a branch of the armed services upon turning 18 and receive a clean "ready to serve" physical by the military physicians, these young men are enlisted for a full year in which they receive military training and rank. From there, they can choose to continue and take on the military as their profession, or leave after their year is up and continue on with normal civilian lives until they are called upon in the future for routine and regular training exercises. These can last from a few days up to a month in duration, depending largely on the soldiers rank and specialty.

My Husband chose that route. Right out of high school, and before he started his bachelor's degree he was property of the Royal Norwegian Army and was stationed at a base near the Norwegian Arctic circle, where many U.N./NATO troops practice training exercises. During his training he specialized in sniping and marksmanship as a member of the homeland defense troops. (Meaning, should Norway ever be attacked, his units are the ones to call up to defend Weegie soil!) After his year was up, he went to college, studied abroad, received a bachelor's degree, then a master's degree directly thereafter, then met me. Thus the story goes.
Pretty much the entire nearly five years he lived/studied in the U.S. Harald had to defer requests for his presence at military exercises in Norway as he didn't reside in the country. Since he had valid student visas in the U.S. and thus a legitimate reason to stay abroad, his deference was accepted every time. As soon as we arrived in Norway last December...and we're talking within a week or two here, he got a request to confirm his presence in the country as a permanent return so that his postponed military exercise could be properly scheduled.

And here we are. My Husband is now checked in at his army camp, and will be spending the next couple days camping, playing with weapons, and going over defense strategies to keep Norway safe.
Hopefully the Royal Army won't get any ideas and try and win him over while he's down there with them, since he has a high level of education and excelled during his initial training, they've also propositioned him numerous times to accept higher officer positions as a career path, which would no doubt relocate us somewhere...still in Norway granted, but definitely somewhere else.
(In case any of you were wondering, as I've fielded this question before when friends/family find out my Husband is technically enlisted as a member of the Royal Army: no, he cannot be deployed. Within the Norwegian armed forces, any foreign deployment, (which would currently be in the Middle East) is totally voluntary, and those troops are peacekeeping units,currently stationed mostly in Iraq at this point. There is news of an occasional fatality of a Norwegian soldier in the Middle East, but it is very rare. Only once has it happened since we moved here, involving an explosive unit and a tank.)

It's only 48 hours or so away from home, but it still sucks to have him gone, and I'm not looking forward to sleeping all alone for the next couple of nights...puppies not included in that 'alone' state, obviously. At least he'll be able to call and check in before he goes to bed at night.

This little experience today of taking him to be bussed off for a training exercise made me think of friends and loved ones in the States that have spouses in the military. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade or so, you probably know that having spouses in branches of the U.S. military means they have been recently, are, or will be deployed overseas at some point, and for periods much longer than my paltry 48 hours away from my Husband.

I can't imagine what that must be like, and since it's been on my mind since dropping Harald off this morning, I wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank all the amazing men and women and their families, making sacrifices for, and serving their country, especially those in the American armed forces. Your strength as soldiers and families is truly amazing and I am so proud of each and every one of you. May you all return home safely soon.