My Brother Is in the Army, and I Am His Next of Kin

A while ago, I was stumped while trying to think of an approach for a post for the annual Blog Blast for Peace. Until the evening I wrote this post, I honestly had no idea what I would write, aside from the obvious, "End the war in Iraq."

Then, I got some mail.

It was a postcard addressed to "All Family Members of Company G" from the Family Support Group in Medina, Ohio. This is my brother's National Guard Reserve Unit that's being mobilized soon. We had some good news recently. His unit won't be mobilized for training at Ft. Hood, Texas until after the first of the year. My brother had expected to be in Ft. Hood over Christmas, with a few days off for the actual holiday break. Everything has been pushed back a few months, but the end result is the same. They'll be in the Middle East next year.

The postcard itself was innocuous. It was about a holiday party for the reserve unit and their families. No, what stopped me in my tracks was what this postcard meant. I've never received anything like this with regards to my brother before. But tonight, holding that piece of cardboard, my heart skipped a beat and my stomach did a slow flip. I came to a sickening realization.

I am my brother's next of kin.

If something happens to B., mine is the number they'll call. A car will pull up in front of my house, an officer in Army green will step out and walk up my driveway and ring my doorbell. My world is the one that will tip on its axis first.

I will have to call B's girlfriend, his aunts and uncles. His grandparents.

Our parents.

It's easy to talk about war and peace in the abstract. It's easy to debate whether military action is necessary, or "right," or just. It's easy to talk about troop movements and IED's and snipers. It's easy to declare that fighting terrorism, or championing democracy, or even stopping the war is the most important issue facing our generation.

It's much harder to talk about real solutions. It's much harder to look at the photos of soldiers killed in Iraq. It's much harder to think about their wives, husbands, parents, and children. It's much harder to look at your own family photos and picture someone missing.

I don't want one more doorbell rung, one more family crushed, one more photo framed in remembrance. Peace is really the only option. The bigger question is: How do we get there?

*I wrote this post a few years ago for my personal blog. Since I wrote it in 2007, my brother spent a year deployed, came home, got married and is back to the business of life as usual. While I no longer have to worry about a phone call about B or my husband (recently retired from the Navy), so many of my friends still live this every day. My brother will redploy next year and his wife will be the one afraid to answer the phone when it rings in the middle of the night.

Stephanie Himel-Nelson blogs as Lawyer Mama and is the New Media Director for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and empowering military families. The views she expresses here are her personal views and not reflective of those of Blue Star Families.

This is an article written by one of the incredible members of the SheKnows Community. The SheKnows editorial team has not edited, vetted or endorsed the content of this post. Want to join our amazing community and share your own story? Sign up here.

More from parenting

by Claire Gillespie
| 5 hours ago
by Jennifer Mattern
| 2 days ago
by FairyGodBoss
| 2 days ago
by Theresa Edwards
| 3 days ago
by Jennifer Mattern
| 3 days ago