Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Milblogging Convention Revelation

I went to the MilBlogger Convention in Arlington, VA this last weekend. I had been looking forward to it forever. In fact, I had wanted to attend last year, but it just wasn’t possible.

So me and Sarah made plans to attend together: she as a panel speaker, and me as a milblogger/milblogger-groupie.

I was giddy with the excitement of meeting up in person with all these people I had met online. I was looking forward to a weekend of partying with like-minded people in our nation’s capital, punctuated with the occasional panel discussion. I joked to Sarah that it was like going to a Beanie Baby convention or something (for the record I don’t collect Beanie Babies), I thought there was just going to be gushing, and hugging and laughing. However, I was in for a surprise: I certainly didn’t expect to be as moved and inspired as I was.

It was a shot in the arm. Since my boyfriend/fiancé has returned, I have distanced myself from the Milblogging community. Not really on purpose, but just because once my soldier returned I wanted to celebrate his being home, act like we were a “normal” couple, doing normal couple things: like renting movies, eating popcorn, shopping for patio furniture, digging weeds in the backyard and drinking cold beers, all those things we had both yearned to do while he was away.

When he was deployed I knew everything that was going on, the names of operations, the areas of operations, how things were going in these areas. I would check the names of fallen soldiers and read about their lives. I read milblogs religiously. I sought out new connections, searching for degrees of separation. I lived and breathed the war on terror. And I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that other people didn’t share my fervor in following all things combat related.

I often complain that war is too distant from the general public. Because of the deployments, soldiers clock-in and then clock-out of the war. They aren’t in war mode the whole time. And consequently their families aren’t in war mode. I complain about the general public lacking the passion to fight this war, but I realize that I am just as much part of that problem. As soon as my boyfriend came back, I clocked-out.

My boyfriend’s unit is non-deployable. That doesn’t mean he won’t deploy, it just means that the unit as a whole won’t deploy. But it is also pretty unlikely that he will deploy. So for the next 2 and half years I can be pretty secure in the knowledge that he will be home. And that has led to some complacency on my part.

I had sort of resigned myself to this war being lost by America. That even if we won military battles, we could still lose the war, because in the eyes of the public this war is already lost. Since I was only reading the newspaper and watching TV, I hadn’t been getting “from the front” news, and I started to really think that no matter what we did, it didn’t really matter.

Over the weekend, I realized that if you aren’t a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. I had subconsciously become one of those people who lives as if we aren’t at war. And part of me thought that in 2 ½ years things might be over in Iraq and Afghanistan, and my fiancé won’t be deploying again. That this war doesn’t really directly affect me anymore. Over the weekend I realized that I hope my fiancé deploys again in 2 ½ years. Because if he doesn’t deploy, it means that we have given up.

The Soldiers Angels and other groups who selflessly devote their time and efforts to supporting soldiers and getting good news out almost shamed me. I feel like I should be doing more, although I know there is a balance to be struck: Enjoying the eye of the storm, the time when ones soldier is home and not thinking about when they will be gone again, while at the same time also remaining supportive of the cause. Clocking out, but still being a company person. I will attempt to find that balance over the next few months: enjoying the precious time that we will have starting our journey together as a married couple, but also remaining cognizant that there is a war still going on, even if we aren’t directly in the middle of it.

Note to my wonderful lurker Jean: I only saw 2 (!) soldiers in Dallas Fort Worth, and they were high-tailing it to a flight. I even went to Terminal B and loitered around the USO lounge, waiting for some poor unsuspecting soldier to come out so I could pounce on them. No such luck…


Blogger Teresa said...

It was so wonderful to meet you in person! I'm very glad I we were both able to go this year.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You were there for your soldier and sought support from this circle of virtual friends. You made friends and were able to meet some of those this past weekend. I am glad we met. You see, we never talked or commented on each others site but we were able to share a few story's and that made it special. Remember that despite the absence, people will still be there whenever you need them. I have grown to realize that with this fine group of people.


11:51 PM  
Blogger KC said...

There is nothing to be ashamed of; you and your soldier deserve some time to enjoy the fact that he is safe, stateside, and with you again. You have been through an experience to which few can relate, and you deserve all of the good feelings and peace that come with getting through it in the brilliant way that you have.

I deem you not shameable, and I hope you don't forget that, lest I should have to remind you once again.

I'm glad to see you went to the conference, though! It must be a simply unforgettable experience. Glad to see you posting again, too!

12:57 AM  
Blogger MQ said...

I feel the same way, but my job is military related, so I can't "clock out" even if my husband never deploys again, which I don't think he can, or will.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Rachelle Jones said...

I too was inspired! It is always an amzing group to be around....

I enjoyed our talk, and was sorry I had to be rude and leave in the middle of what was proving to be a great conversation....

I hate when that happens..

you were just as lovely in person as I thought you would be!!

See you next year!!

Oh and I assume i will see you this coming weekend in Sand Diego!!

6:16 AM  
Blogger Shayna said...

I am jealous that you got to go... I have watched some clips of the convention on the Pentagon channel and have seen pictures... and the President's speech... sounds like it was wonderful...

5:03 AM  
Blogger siestadoctor said...

Dear Danjel Bout :

My name is Juan Devis, I am producer at KCET/PBS Television - New Media in charge of all original web content, including webstories, among others.

[ http://kcet.org/explore-ca/web-stories/ ]http://kcet.org/explore-ca/web-stories/

For the next issue of Web Stories I want to touch on the subject of Iraq and its representation.  

We all now that the rules of engagement (for reporting) are different now, new media technologies and the internet have changed the immediacy, look and veracity of the war and the common man and woman are now reporting and posting stories that they deem valid, appropriate and necessary.... the case of military blogs is a perfect example. 

Thanks to Mathew Currie's BLOGS OF WAR I was able to find your blog and understand the importance and impact of milblogs in our social-media landscape. For that reason, I want to feature milblogs as part of the issue on Iraq.   Since my focus is Southern California, the story and the milblogs that I intend to include have to have some sort of connection to So-Cal. After talking to Mr. Currie and searching in each of your sites, I was able to narrow down my selection to  four blogs:

Mr. Smash Goes To Washington, Sean Dustman – Doc in the Box, Danjel Bout – 365 and a Wakeup and you....

Ideally, I would want to include your blog, interview you and offer it as a podcast.

Anyway, I hope to hear from you and hope also that this offer intrigues you.

8:39 PM  
Blogger siestadoctor said...

Dear Calivalley

the last e-mail or comment was actually destined to you... I want to talk to you about your blog and a story I am doing for PBS Los Angeles.

You can reach me at 323-953-5762

or via mail:


thanks so much,


8:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm so glad you went! I was in DFW (worst flight experience ever, by the way) on Wednesday and didn't see a single soldier, and yes, I passed the USO, too! I did see one in Nashville, though, running to catch a flight, as I was. Sean and I make it a tradition to thank a soldier in DFW, and this is the first time in years that I haven't had that opportunity. I thought it was strange, too.

Will post about my horrible flight experience soon. Still recovering. Hope all is well--miss you guys!


3:52 PM  
Blogger kbug said...

Well, believe me, the soldiers are here at DFW quite often. It's just the timing that sucks sometimes when I'm flying in or out of Dallas. If you're lucky, you'll happen on a bunch of that have just come in from the sand or a gathering of those who are about to go back. I've been lucky enough to have that happen a few times during my travels and I always strike up a conversation with one or two of them and wish them the best. I so look forward to seeing them when I'm at the airport...it makes the trip better by far.

Seth is now home, as of the end of November, and shouldn't have to go back again till next year. I haven't been nearly as devoted to reading milblogs since he returned, but I think it's because I'm not thirsty for information as much as I was when he was there. I do still keep up with what's going on over there, however, and I'm still disappointed that some of my friends still don't have a clue, but they are completely disconnected...my semi-disconnection is only temporary.

Glad you enjoyed the milblog conference, there were some wonderful people there that I would like to meet some day.

5:55 AM  
Blogger zrr said...

Your contributions as a Blogger are as important as any marine's fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Please keep that in mind. The Milbloggers are the source of the _real_ information about the "War against Terror and Islamofaschism". The world needs you. Keep up your outstanding work!

8:40 AM  

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