A phrase I’ve seen discussed recently in “civilian vs military” blogs, posts, and articles is “It’s what you signed up for.” It’s essentially a fuck you to military servicepeople and their families, kind of like “You knew what you were getting yourself into.” And I’ll admit it, I’ve said it to my man buddy. It’s a mean thing to say, but to be honest, it’s how I felt. When I considered doing ROTC, I truly thought about what it would mean, and eventually I decided not to join because I knew it would be a load of bullshit and I wouldn’t truly get to fight for what I wanted. (Yes, there was a time when I considered ROTC, but then realized that any photographs I’d take would be property of the government, and I’d essentially lose my copyrights.)
My manfriend has to do the stupidest things, like stay awake for 24 hours to do nothing and then go straight into work. The day before 4th of July weekend he had to run a poorly planned ridiculous obstacle course for 6 hours with no food or water. If there’s ever another debt ceiling debate that goes on too long, he has to work without pay because he’s considered “essential.” I agree that things like this, yes, you can absolutely be angry about and things that shouldn’t happen. But as I’ve said to him, did you seriously not expect this absurd bullshit from the military? No, it’s not “what you signed up for,” but was it not expected with the territory?
To me, this is different from the hardships that aren’t outlined in the job descriptions or the common-knowledge adversities (at least, what I would consider “common knowledge”). When military partners and families struggle with the emotional impact of deployment, of moving from place to place, of isolation from the rest of the population…no. No one signs up for these things. But from what I can see, the military blogging community tells similar stories to each other, and although it’s on the internet for everyone to see, no one’s looking for it.
And this is why I desperately want (need?) to start my photography project. I’m not very experienced with the military lifestyle, but I also wouldn’t consider myself a typical civilian either. I feel very in between the worlds, and so I believe that I am in the position to bring both worlds together. Not that I’m going to single-handedly bridge the ginormous gap, but I believe I can contribute to it in a way few people can or will.
Anyway, maybe I’ll include some of this in my grant proposals. But first, I have to make some work. That’s the worst part about all this: I can’t ask for money until I’ve gotten started on the project, but I can’t really start the project until I have money. Oh, the vicious cycles of applying for grants and loans…