I put a lot out there. Maybe it’s cathartic, or maybe I’m naive, but whatever the reason, anyone who’s read the paper over the past four years could gather a good bit of information about me, just by picking up this column.
I’ve written about the death of my father, my husband’s deployments, my mom, my two sisters and their combined eight children. I’ve written about the struggles I have with dealing with military life and how I’m on my way out of it.
I share this information by choice. No one forces me to include personal details about myself, but I do in the hope that perhaps someone else out there understands and perhaps will feel less alone. I am often reassured by other columns or blogs by military spouses when I learn I’m not the only one who struggles to find their place in family readiness groups or buys a new dress just for a homecoming ceremony.
While I share my life mostly for other’s entertainment, there are those out there who write as advocates for military spouses. They lay their personal details before the world in hopes that it will make life better for the rest of us.
On Valentine’s Day, five of those women came under attack — not from angry Facebook commenters or bad legislation — but from the enemy.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Angela Ricketts, the wife of an Army officer in Colorado, received the following Facebook message: “Dear Angela! Bloody Valentines Day! While your president and your husband are killing our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we’re coming for you.”
It went on: “We know everything about you, your husband and your children and we are much closer than you can imagine. You’ll see no mercy infidel!”
The message was sent from an account called “CyberCaliphate,” and claimed to be on behalf of the Islamic State. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frighten me,” Ricketts told the Times.
Ricketts is an author, and each of the targeted women had been quoted in the media and put themselves out there for the betterment of others.
I can honestly say I was extremely taken aback by reading this news article. Yes, I know that the Islamic State is all about fear-based tactics — I saw their hack of the Central Command Twitter account. But for some reason this just hit home for me.
I know that just being American makes me hated by many, but I can’t imagine being personally singled out in this way. It’s just eerie. And for no reason other than being willing to step forward and talk about this strange life military service creates for families.
Lori Volkman, wife of a Navy Reserve officer, also received a message and publicly said she refused to be intimidated.
“The most amazing thing that has come of these messages is that they’ve empowered the whole military community in solidarity rather than inspiring fear,” she told the Times.
I have to agree with Volkman. I don’t know these women, but I respect their bravery and their willingness to see terroristic threats right there on the screen, and show no fear.
Anyone who throws their personal life into a spotlight expects there to be some potential backlash. But never this.