I’m Scared for What’s Next: A Military Spouse’s Thoughts on the Paris Attacks


There are some things in life that, no matter how hard you try, just don’t make sense. No amount of contemplation, insight, or prayer can bring sense to the evil of this world. September 11, 2001 shaped the way I grew up, and the way I view things around me. It took away my ability to see good and heroic things happening, and replaced it with fear and uncertainty.

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As a military spouse, fear can become a daily emotion. When tragedy strikes, our worlds seem to close in on us as we run the gamut of possible outcomes for our loved one; will they deploy, and where? When will training start? What holidays will he miss? How dangerous will it be?

President Obama recently said that he would keep troops in Afghanistan through 2017. This decision, sadly, didn’t seem to take any of us by surprise despite earlier pledges to withdraw them. My gut is twisted thinking of the other military families who won’t have their loved ones home for the holidays. My heart aches for the families who received news that their service members are being sent to relieve those left in Afghanistan or to protect our nation in other remote parts of the globe.

It’s been 14 years of war, and the state of the world isn’t getting any better. I’m not ready for an endless war, where places we thought were safe can become the frontlines of new types of battle. Places like Paris–beautiful, beloved Paris–a place where dozens of my friends have visited, even lived. Why would any evil target Paris?

As I was processing the death tolls, the injuries, and the eventual claim of who was responsible, I was overcome with emotion. I’m scared for what’s next.

There are military families in France and other countries in Europe; I’m scared for them. Stateside military families are wondering, no doubt, if their service member might deploy as a result of these attacks. I’m scared for them, too. I’m scared for the service members who are still enlisting in our all-volunteer military—they’ll be the next wave of support to join our nation’s longest war.

I don’t know what to expect except fear and uncertainty.

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Paris could have been anywhere—a military base, New York City, a theme park, an NFL football game. And I could have been there. My family could have fallen victim. And that scares me. Evil is out there, lurking, planning, targeting. And we’re only doing the best we can to protect ourselves.

Paris’ Night of Horror was unbelievably senseless and evil, and there’s no way to process why other humans would commit such an act of terror. As a military spouse, my heart hurts for the families of the victims. And I’m scared for what’s next for my own family.

There aren’t many historic events in my lifetime that give me hope that good still exists. But seeing the sacrifice our men and women in uniform, and their families, make to protect our nation gives me that hope. Tragedy isn’t avoidable, but I know that someone’s loved one—including my own—vowed to protect us from it as best they could.

I’m scared for what’s next because I know our service members are at stake. I know some military families will have to bear the burden of another deployment, another holiday alone, even another tragedy. And some of those families are my friends.

I’m asking you to rally behind the military families you know. Just as we all are finding ways to stand by the people of Paris, don’t forget to stand by our service members in harm’s way. Support the cause and display your pride in all ways. The war isn’t over. Military families need to know their country has their back.

Seeing our country stand behind the military and their families is the good that drives out the fear and uncertainty bred by tragedy.

shannonPosted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

34 Comments

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  1. 3
    Cathy Funk

    Thank you Shannon for such a heartfelt and caring message. I am a “military Mother” and so very proud of my son and every soldier who puts his life on the line to give us our freedom each and every day. I too am scared, but I believe this fear is a “good thing”, as sad as that may sound, because it keeps us on our toes, ever watchful of “what’s next”? All countries need to UNITE to put an end to this senseless nonsense and deal accordingly before there’s another 9-11 or Paris. Again, Thank You! You put into words what alot of us already have been thinking. God Bless Our Troops, and hold each and every one of them close to your hearts! They are true Heroes!

    • 4
      Mary Hardy

      I agree with you Cathy Funk 100%! I come from a military background, plus my son to enlisted during war time, although he is home now.These young men and women volunteer and literally sign a blank check with their lives in doing so, the thing we need to do is give them our 100% support and yes they need to put a stop to ISIS and their kind! Thank you, your family and especially your son for his service.

  2. 5
    rebecca m

    I actually don’t feel the way you feel. everyone should know.. including spouses and other family members.. that if you join the military you’re always at risk to be deployed. it is what it is. a lot of the people who died from the attacks in Paris weren’t military. just normal people. anyone is at risk of dying when they walk down the street. we should all be rallying with each other. this isnt about just military and their families. it’s about the world and all it’s people. trying to put the military above the rest is one of the reasons a lot of people dislike military and their families.

    • 6
      Genette F

      Rebecca, you apparently don’t have a spouse or loved one in the military or else you would understand what Shannon is conveying. I disagree with you and can’t thank all these men & women enough, who serve our country knowing their life may be at stake. If it weren’t for them sacrificing holidays spent with family or missing out on family gatherings, and putting their life aside for us, we would not have the freedom we have today. I have a daughter in the Air Force and we haven’t spent a Christmas together nor has she spent a Christmas with her 11 year old son in 3 years. Again Rebecca, I totally agree with you and my prayers go out to you and all those who serve our country.

    • 7
      Kimmy

      Rebecca, as a veteran and military spouse, I completely agree with you. When someone makes the conscious decision to join they military, they also make the conscious decision to go fight wars. Knowing this as a service member, they never seem to openly whine and complain because they know the sacrifices tat they signed up for in return for their family and nation’s well being. But, military spouses, on the other hand, always have something to say about how hard it is to support their service member.

      • 8
        Lisa D.

        Kimmy, thank you for your service! It is truly appreciated!!!! Just want you to know that THIS military spouse has never had something to say about how hard it is to support my Marine. In fact, it is the easiest thing I ever do because supporting him and our military comes very naturally. However, I have seen a lot of spouses whine and complain about how “hard” military life is. I work as a DoD family law paralegal and I know exactly what you are saying.

    • 11
      Kailey

      She’s not trying to put the military above anyone she is sharing her thoughts on it she is putting into words what every military family member is thinking. She said in addition to praying for them, pray for the military who will be fighting. We are standing with Paris that is why she is saying this not because we are above but because we are behind them. I heard the news about all these attacks and my heart dropped thinking of what’s to come next. Yes they signed up for the military yes deployments are likely going to happen but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. It’s the fear of when, where, how long??? My husband deploys 2 weeks after Christmas and my stomach is in knots knowing that he is going to a place where there is so much danger. It is a slap in the face for you to act as if it doesn’t even matter. Yes people can die any day but this is different. I feel sorry that you don’t understand their sacrifice they are still human, still scared but they are doing it to protect what they love their family, this country, and it’s people. It’s pathetic that people like you don’t see or appreciate what they are doing.

    • 12
      Petra

      I’m with you. Do I dread what looms? Yeah. But… Military folks are not only absent when they’re deployed. This is our life. And when our loved ones are absent, we give each other support because we KNOW.

  3. 13
    Lisa D.

    I must say that I take issue with your quote, “As a military spouse, fear becomes a daily emotion.” Eight of your twelve paragraphs state you are either scared or in fear. This is absolutely not true of all of us. In fact, I know very few military spouses living in fear. As the wife of an infantry Marine, my husband has been deployed for over half of our decade long marriage. Our husbands joined the military to protect the nation, to fight our enemy, and to ensure our way of life. It is the reason the military exists. Why else would they join? This article makes military spouses sound like a bunch of cowering, quivering, weak women. I am none of those things. I am proud of my husband’s combat and would be proud to have him fighting to protect the world from ISIS. I know he is itching to get over there and fight. In doing so, I would never lead him to believe I’m sitting around scared while he is deployed, why would I ever distract him like that? Do I worry? Of course. But, scared I am not. This is not how an infantry wife thinks…at least none that I know. We are strong, we are resolved, and we know if our husbands deploy, the only people who should be scared are the terrorists because there is death and destruction coming their way. We are the greatest fighting force in the world and I have every confidence we can win – if only we allowed to finish what we start. George Patton said of fallen servicemen, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men that died; rather we should thank God that such men lived.” What our husbands do is honorable and no matter what happens, I know his mission is bigger than any of us. All of that said, I absolutely do not feel fear; I feel anger that Parisians have been attacked. In fact, I will be in Paris in less than two weeks, and even then I will not feel fear.

    • 14
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      I appreciate your strength, Lisa. I didn’t intend to speak for all military spouses, just myself. I don’t live in fear, and I don’t worry my life away, but I do feel empathy and concern for what’s to come. I don’t think that makes me weak at all. Maybe I just get a little more emotional than most 😉 I’m thankful for your husband’s service, and that you’re a solid support system for him.

      -Shannon Sebastian

    • 15
      Heather jones

      Finally! It must be an infantry wife thing because this article really made me angry. Couldn’t fathom reading another line of how we are ALL scared. I pray other people read this with a grain on salt and dont believe this to be the true identity of a military wife.

  4. 16
    Angela

    So I read this blog post and I do not agree. We can disagree. My spouse and I are about to move our family back across the world to Germany… Again. We have not even been stateside for 2 years, we lived OCONUS for 3 years. I am happy to go,I love the culture and experiences we get to enjoy. Not for one second do I not know the risks that are out there away from “home”, but I will not choose to live in fear… Or be scared, because that is what these terrorists want… To make people fearfully. Yes, the risk of our loved ones being put in harms way is there when they deploy and that is okay to worry… I do worry just like when my children are not in my care. I am a proud military wife. But I will not live in fear or be scared. Everyone has to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings but that is every where. People are being killed or harmed in places across the U.S., Someone is more likely to be hurt in a driving accident than by terrorists attacks. Am I being naive… No. But we wake up and take risks daily.

    I will not be scared. I will not live in fear. I will proudly support my spouse and his choice to serve. I will not miss out on my life and the experiences that is holds. But I can agree to disagree with you on this one, and respect your feeling that you are scared and I hope that you will not be fearful for to long as you might miss out on the small things.

  5. 17
    awifewithhope

    This isn’t about missing holidays, that’s just the cherry on top. This isn’t about a specific fear of a specific deployment, though of course those are stressful and sometimes scary. The deep, crushing, exhausting fear she is describing is one of looking down the barrel of inevitable world-wide war. Not “let us meet on the field of battle” war, but war where the goal is to destroy as many innocents as possible, in the most terrorizing ways thinkable. Fear of no family in the world really being safe, of more people dying, innocent or armed and ready. Of the unknown.

    To sneer at that worry, as if being married to a servicemember takes away all right to fear, that’s ridiculous. We don’t go around telling everyone how scary it is, feel sorry for us. We don’t go around sobbing to our spouse constantly about how scared we are. But sharing our fear and asking for support is completely normal and healthy. It humanizes us and can help civilians understand what it can be like, most of them truly have no idea. It doesn’t we aren’t proud or that we are entitled to sympathy.

    Sometimes the worst critics of military spouses are other military spouses, and that’s incredibly sad. This woman needs a hug and someone to reassure her when things get heavy. Someone to understand, because a lot of the time the extended family doesn’t understand, and the wife is the one to be strong for them. What she doesn’t need is another spouse shrugging and tell her she signed up for, she’s a liability to her spouse, and weak for feeling.

  6. 19
    William Young

    kudos to all that won’t live in fear…if we do live in fear , then the terrorist have already won….I served some forty plus years ago…didn’t fear then, won’t fear now…I see us meeting the terrorist head on, but I wouldn’t put our young men and women in harm’s way when we have the technology to attack with unmanned craft and long range smart missiles….anyway thanks to all that serve and may God grant us peace in this world

  7. 20
    Kami D.

    Thank you Lisa D. You have written exactly what has been on my heart since I read this post. Bravo to all those who have also commented that they do not and will not live in fear. I am prior service and a military wife. I trust in my husband, in his training, and his fellow soldiers. I will not distract my husband from his mission with a useless emotion. Fear is exactly the emotion and weapon that the terriorists which to inflict upon us but it is a weapon we can control. The horrible acts in Paris should lead us to rally around those who are wounded and suffering. We should be helpers not whiners. I find it a shame that the main message of this post is of fear and sadness that our loved ones might be away from us on a holiday. In my opinion, it is a poor representation of military spouses.

    • 21
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      Hi Kami–thanks for reading my blog post, and for sharing your thoughts. I’ve refrained from responding to most of the commenters, because I know it’s possible for people to misinterpret what I’ve written in a way that makes sense to them. But I really think you’ve taken my piece and misconstrued my words in a way that are simply not true.

      I choose to stand in my emotion (whether it’s fear, worry, joy, etc) and that means that I’m letting myself be vulnerable to feeling. To believe that being vulnerable is a form of weakness is to believe FEELING is a weakness. Experiencing emotion does NOT mean that I distract my husband from his mission, nor does it mean that my emotions are “useless,” as you say they are.

      I don’t think my piece says I live my life in fear, and it ABSOLUTELY isn’t me “whining” about our loved ones being away from us on a holiday. It’s bigger than that, and I’m sorry you chose to take away that one small sentence from a bigger piece that asks people to be “helpers” by supporting their military, the cause, and those that are still enlisting to protect. The main message, which you thought was about complaining that loved ones are missing holidays, is actually my way of supporting fellow military spouses, and anyone else who needs it. It’s my way of saying, “You know, this life is tough sometimes, and military spouses are supposed to have it together all the time, but you know what? Sometimes we get scared, too.”

      If you don’t get scared sometimes, that’s okay. But it’s not okay to call someone else’s emotions “useless” and “whining.” I hope you’ll find a way to support the military spouses you know when they need it (like when they’re emotional)–whether it’s through mentoring them, or sharing a time when YOU were scared and how you overcame that, or just saying, “I get it. I’ve been there. It’s tough.”

      Thank you for standing by your service member, and for the sacrifices you make doing so.
      -Shannon Sebastian

  8. 22
    mamadodge

    I did not take away that the main message of this article was fear & sadness. It is an excellent article and I don’t think there is a mil spouse out there who can pass a lie detector test saying they don’t have these same feelings. It’s truly sad when we go against each other instead of supporting each other. Someone always has to take another down and that’s not how we should be representing ourselves. The bigger take away I got from reading this is that there is now another generation that will be asked to go fight. Our sons and daughters and we should be rallying around the less than 1% of the population of the U.S. who raised their right hand and vowed to defend this great nation of ours. I also heard the writer as she said her heart is heavy for all those who will be deploying multiple times and/or away for the hoildays or simply fearful of the unknown, the what if’s for their family. Thank goodness we have mil spouses like Ms. Sebastian who actually “feel” and have a caring heart for what others are going through. She is EXACTLY the kind of spouse I would want in our Command. The first one to step up and offer a helping hand, not critical, judgmental words. Outstanding article.

  9. 23
    Kate

    I have no problem with the author sharing her feelings, thought I don’t think this is an appropriate forum. I have a big problem with the implication that this is how all military spouses feel. Because it isn’t.

    I really hope this post never “gets out” into the civilian media because we don’t need any more fuel for the “military families are victims” rhetoric that has become so common.

    If it was your intent to say that ““You know, this life is tough sometimes, and military spouses are supposed to have it together all the time, but you know what? Sometimes we get scared, too,” then you might want to do some serious rewriting. Because that’s not what this post says at all.

    • 24
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      Hi Kate – would you tell me which part you read as me speaking for ALL military spouses? Was it, “As a military spouse, fear can become a daily emotion”? I can see how that might be a blanket statement. But, to clear up any question, at any given time, there are military spouses (that might not speak up) who are worried and scared for their family. That sentence might not speak for you, but it DOES speak for someone. And I’m okay receiving the criticism for that. But I don’t think any other part of my piece speaks for anyone other than me.

      Thanks for reading, and commenting.
      -Shannon Sebastian

  10. 25
    Kate

    Yup, I’m pretty sure that is it. To have a opening that talks about how all military spouses feel, and then to go on to talk about how you feel, strongly implies that you are using your individual example to prove your point about everyone.

  11. 26
    I get it

    I think this article is well stated. I don’t understand why other people feel the need to comment on the way someone else should feel. As a military spouse and many family members in the military I can’t help my mind going into overdrive anytime there is any kind of tragedy such as the Paris attacks. I do worry about my spouse and family members being deployed. I worry about the possibility of never seeing my spouse again and my children not seeing their Father again. If that makes me weak then so be it. I think it makes me human.

    I understand that to live daily is a risk but I think that the author is trying to convey the reality of a military person. Our military knowingly puts their lives on the line and they go where the fight is to keep it from coming here so we don’t have to be afraid. So we can go on with our lives without constant fear.

    I think it’s sad that instead of lifting each other up and supporting each other whether we are military or not, that people choose to doscourage, discount, and criticize each other.

  12. 27
    Mamis

    It’s all about perspective. For some it depends on the duties of their spouses in FOBS or outside of the so-called safety of FOBS. It could also be based on deployment experiences, where some spouses return and share their horror stories and some don’t. Regardless, she speaks for herself. Some can relate while others have different “perspectives”. Claiming her views somehow speak for you, is denying your individuality and perpetuating stereotypes imposed on any group. I find it funny when people strongly disagree to how one feels or thinks, when one puts pen to paper, it is their voice that speaks not yours. I read nothing here that claims she speaks for me or you. I empathize and can only imagine the life she’s lead to create her own current state of thoughts and emotions. If others could do the same, our world would be a different place.

  13. 28
    mamadodge

    The problem here Kate is that she wasn’t speaking about ALL military spouses. “Strongly implies” and what she actually wrote are 2 different things.

  14. 29
    Mrs Terry Brabant

    Thank you for this wonderful post !! I am a wife of a service connected disabled vet and I know the pains you so brilliantly wilt lite about !! I just wanted to say Thank you !! ??

    I also was wondering how do I sign up for your blog!? I’d love to if its possible!! Thank you again and I look forward to reading more

  15. 31
    Not Afraid

    You’re basically saying how scared you are, which is exactly what those terrorists want. Meanwhile, the people of France, people who have lost friends and family, are holding services on the street demonstrating how they are not afraid, how they will not surrender to terror, how they will overcome the tragedy. In your last paragraph you tell people to stand strong behind the troops to overcome fear. This is good, but how are you going to encourage people to support the troops if you dedicate the entire blog to the fear you experience and go on about the extent of tragedy in this world, full of pessimistic views on the future, and only mention being strong in your last sentence? How is that giving courage to your leaders? You just listed many reasons to be afraid, and in the end you tell people to be strong? I wish you would have elaborated a little more why exactly we need to be strong. Because we need this encouragement.

    • 32
      Kimmy

      It’s okay, Not Afraid. This is the reason why our troops to include female military members exist. It’s to protect those who cower in fear at just the possibility of having to fight or having their loved ones fight. Not all military wives are like this especially if they are real military wives (those who are actually active duty and those who have served). And, not all wives of military men are like this. In the face of evil and terrorism, we will stay brave and strong especially when it comes to supporting our spouses who serve. When (not if) my husband gets called to deploy to fight terrorism again I will happily put on my strong and brave face and send him away with a kiss and tell my kids to do the same. Of course I will be scared on the inside but I will not project that fear to the world.

  16. 34
    Tim Mike

    How afraid should we be now that a radical Christian just killed 3 people and injured more in Colorado Springs? Or does this not evoke the same emotion when tinges of Islamophobia dominate the headlines?

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