"What about just calling them snipers?" I asked, and he quickly said we don't use that term, and I caught an undercurrent of something from that – almost distaste for the word and what it meant. I skirted around it by saying something about Canada using British terminology.
Something had struck me about that conversation, him talking about his daughter being a marksperson. It sounded like women were seeing active duty on the front lines alongside men. He confirmed that; the infantry had been fully integrated since 1988 he told me and he had served with women in combat lots of times in places all over the world.
The military live apart from the civilian population in Kingston, even the students from RMC are sequestered. Only the officers or single enlisted people can afford housing off base and most families live in the semi-detached living quarters available to married enlisted soldiers.
I wonder if there are any women soldiers who have non-military husbands? Do they join wives' support groups when their spouses are overseas? Do they hold regular jobs like other husbands, or because their wife is off in battle do they stay at home and take care of the kids? I wonder how those marriages work out and how many end in divorce.
We know so little about the men and women who we send overseas. The only time they become people is when they are killed. Then we find out they had wives and children, mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters just like the rest of us. Oh, I know you'll see the occasional picture in the newspaper of a wife and young child kissing their husband/father good-bye before they board their transport plane. But by then it's too late to get to know them and it's just another photo opportunity to make us feel some sort of false emotion that has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. We don't know what they are really feeling or anything about that family group at all. Maybe she wanted him to de-mobilize after the baby was born – or at least apply for a non-combat role. They could have even fought about it, their last night together for who knows how long.