On Deployment: Love and Duty in Modern War

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on June 25, 2015. It can also be found online here (or PDF). 

Ellen DeGeneres is wrong.

Misleading, maybe. Her show features military family reunions, following a year of separation, complete with hugs, kisses — all for the cameras. Sometimes even a free trip. The audience loves it; millions take in the YouTube clip.

Unfortunately, this happy view is as inaccurate as focusing on a marathon’s final strides. What about the other 26.1 miles? Or, oppositely, the start? What about the military experience, the moment of deployment departure, when family and all that matters is about to fade into the rearview mirror — what does this feel like?

In my case, excruciatingly conflicted. I love my wife and adore my two daughters, but this coming weekend I will leave them for a year to guard the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

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