FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — President Bush's new strategy in Iraq has touched off a vigorous debate, but there's no debating that military families are shouldering much of the burden in the war. That's something the wife of a Fort Bragg soldier said America tends to forget.
Rebekah Sanderlin heard all 2,900 words of the President's speech Wednesday night, including his plan to send 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.
"They're scrambling,” Sanderlin said. “They're working nonstop and facing all kinds of dangers. I can't imagine anyone who's in Iraq right now who would be disappointed to hear they're getting help."
Sanderlin is an Army wife and the mother of a 2-year-old. Her husband will deploy to Afghanistan this year.
She writes a blog on the Fayetteville Observer's Web site. Friday, she addressed her remarks to the nation.
"There's a popular saying in military towns like mine: the American military went to war, and Americans went to the mall,” Sanderlin wrote.
On New Year's Eve, her words aired on National Public Radio.
"When I talk to civilians about the war and military issues, it's sort of a political issue with civilians," Sanderlin said. "We feel we're carrying the weight of the country while everyone else goes off and goes back to life like it was before the war."
But in Sanderlin’s home, as well as other military homes in Fayetteville, the war is deeply personal.
"It's not Republicans and Democrats,” she said. “It's Daddy, it's honey."
But what is the rest of America to do -- the America far beyond Fort Bragg? Lending an empathetic ear helps, Sanderlin said. She also asks Americans to say thanks to those who serve.
"Being in a non-military town is incredibly difficult when having a husband deployed, because people don't understand,” Sanderlin said. "I've come to tears before when somebody has stopped me and said, ‘I appreciate your service.’”
Sanderlin told WRAL she prefers not to look at the current conflict as the Iraq War, but rather as the global war on terrorism. She said it's important not to forget that many American soldiers are serving and dying in Afghanistan, as well.