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Question and answer with Dawn Orta, a captain in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. When Orta's unit was called up to deploy to southwest Asia, preparations for their departure had them working 14-hour days and weekends. The following interview gave this busy wife and mother a rare chance to sit down and reflect on what military life entails.
The mounting distress
Question: Describe some of the difficulties faced daily by soldiers in the military.
Answer: Lack of control of your life. Although the military does give you some choice where you will serve, you aren't always able to choose where you will live and what job you will perform. The position to which you were assigned may not have anything to do with the training you have received.
Question: Has the military taught you any life lessons that you feel you may not have learned anywhere else?
Answer: Definitely. I have learned independence and how to fire a weapon. I still don't like it, but if I hadn't joined the military, I don't think I would have ever fired a weapon voluntarily. I have also learned to be more assertive and to take on more responsibility. Most often, in the civilian world, people will only take on what they can handle. In the military, you are put in positions that you didn't choose and find it's your responsibility to fix them.
Question: What questions go through your mind as you think about deployment? What challenges might you and your family face?
Answer: Uncertainty of what will happen. Is life or death in store for me? I think that I certainly could be killed in a car crash tomorrow if it is the time God has chosen to take me to heaven. However, upon entering a hostile area where there will be bombs and bullets flying, the threat of death seems more up front.
What will I have to face as a woman in a Muslim country where women are treated like cattle or worse? What will happen to me, a Christian woman, if I become a prisoner of war? What conflicts will I have because of my Christianity? Will I be able to practice my faith? We heard that during Desert Storm soldiers had to take off crosses. Will I be asked to do the same?
How will I respond to what I experience visually, biologically, or chemically?
Will my kids be well taken care of, or will they have permanent emotional or psychological effects because I am leaving?
The promised deliverance
Question: What comfort do you find in God‘s Word to help you as you deal with these emotions?
Answer: I guess there isn't one passage in particular that keeps me going. I just remember the promise of God to always be with me no matter where I go. In times when I feel weak, I remember that God is carrying me along. God is always with me, and I have the reassurance of my ultimate destination—heaven.
Question: How do you handle the uncertainty of not knowing where or when you will be called to serve?
Answer: At times it is certainly aggravating and stressful. But I just try to remember that God is in control. As things evolve with Iraq, I know that God has a hand in it. No matter what happens, I cannot control my life, but God can.
I say a prayer of thanks for all the Dawn Ortas who are defending the freedoms we take for granted every day. A prayer of thanks for the lesson that Dawn teaches us: even though her heart is heavy with uncertainty, she has her eyes focused on Christ and his ability to carry her through every situation, no matter how dark.
Author: Katherine Martin
Copyrighted WELS Forward in Christ
Are you a family member or friend of someone who is deployed? Find ways to stay connected and encourage your loved ones while they serve.
WELS has a civilian chaplain stationed in Germany to minister to military personnel serving overseas.
Leran more about WELS' Ministry to the Military.