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Christmas in the Desert

Happy Holidays to all our service men and women who are deployed around the world and to their families who miss them terribly. Spending the Holiday Season deployed can be difficult and can continue to cast a dark shadow over this time of year once a service member has returned home.


This time of year reminds me of a Billy Joel song called Christmas in Fallujah that came out during my second deployment. This dark song connected with some of what I was experiencing, what some of my fellow soldiers were experiencing, yet totally missed it in other areas. Deployments during the Holiday Season seem to amplify difficulties.


Some of the more relatable lyrics for me were:


It’s evening in the desert I’m tired and I’m cold But I am just a soldier I do what I am told


Most anyone in the military can relate to following orders and experiencing hardships.


A lot of service members struggle in in their most important relationships back home during deployment. Perhaps this lyric really hit home with many of those individuals:


And I just got your letter And this is what I read, you said I’m fading from your memory So I’m just as good as dead


Relationships can be hard to sustain over such a huge distance and during such extreme stress for both the individual deployed and their loved ones back home. Life continues to move at a fast pace for those at home and deployed. Some service members and loved ones can begin to feel disconnected.


Some of the lyrics of this song were definitely politically charged and may have reflected more of the views held by some back home than those deployed:


We came with the crusaders To save the Holy Land


We are the Armies of the empire We are the Legionnaires of Rome It’s Christmas in Fallujah And we ain’t never coming home


They say Osama’s in the mountains Deep in a cave near Pakistan But there’s a sea of blood in Baghdad A sea of oil in the sand


Most of the political noise seemed to be just that . . . noise. The more poignant moments seemed to always be about who was serving next to you, following orders, and doing your job well so as to not let anyone around you down.


I use this song as a reminder to always seek to join with my military clients in a way that seeks to learn about their unique experience without imposing mine upon them. Everyone has a unique experience and deserves to have a safe place to tell their story.


Please remember those who are deployed around the world and the first responders working here at home to keep us safe. Their service comes with significant risk. Sergeant First Class Michael Goble was killed in action on Monday (12/23). Please keep his friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.


What stands out to you about what is helpful to keep in mind when meeting with your clients that were once deployed during the Holidays?

© 2020 Dr. Greg Cheney, LMFT 

Valiant Couples Therapy and Consulting, PLLC

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The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or its components.