It is here. It’s there. It is everywhere. It isn’t being used, but is kept “just in case” or “it is worth so much money.” If you are an Army wife, you know exactly what I am talking about. Yes! The Army gear! In this post, we will talk about this annoyance and something to consider, based on my personal experience.
Help! Hubby is retired from the military and won’t get rid of his gear!
It was a beautiful July afternoon. Hubby and I looked at each other, smiled and took a big, huge breath. Ah! We were done! It was retirement day! After 20 years of serving in the US Army, it was bittersweet to “be done.” To say “See Ya Later to the Army.”
In the joy of the moment and the slight panic of the unforeseeable future, he had obviously thought about finances and how we would make a living after retirement.
As we were conveniently standing in the garage, I pointed at all of his tough boxes full of military gear he had acquired over the years and asked, “what are you finally going to do with that stuff?” Would you want to sell it and make money off of it?” Oh boy! His face said it all. I was puzzled, so I left it at that for a while.
Yes, the tough boxes are those black container boxes that carried all of his personal items during deployments. Now that he’s retired and not deploying, they just got completely filled to the gills with Army gear.
They are huge and take up a lot of room in our garage. There are so many of them that they take up an entire side of the wall! Although hubby claims that I’m the packrat of the family (which is true), he’s a packrat when it comes to gear. However, once a year (usually right after Christmas), we get into a claustrophobic mode and go big on decluttering and organizing. I do admit that as much as I was encouraging him to organize things a bit and possible down size, sell stuff and organize- it was bitter-sweet.
For two years now, I had been nagging every few months about how much room we would have in the garage and how much money we would make if he sold all of his gear.
He always gave me excuses about how much work that would be, what a mess it would make to get it all out to photograph, what a pain it would be to upload all the info and then mail it out, etc.
I get it. It really is a lot of work. A great suggestion is to sell 10 things at a time or to get everything out and try to sell relevant bundles of gear. Anyway, nothing has moved. Nothing has been done.
Again, here we are, not long after Christmas and we both had the decluttering bug. I mentioned the gear again, but this time, I approached it from another angle. I offered to help him sort through his gear and even post some things online that he wanted to sell.
This time, I was calm, instead of impatient. I was speaking softly. I wasn’t nagging him. No longer was I treating or referring to the gear as “junk.” I chose to watch him. To help him. He was standing in front of the boxes. He was quiet and pensive. I thought he was looking at the boxes thinking about the massive job that this meant.
But soon, I found out that this wasn’t the case. He took a deep breath and kept staring on. I asked him what was going on. He said, “I am not done. I am not ready to let it go. The gear in these boxes were my life and I can’t just sell it off for money.”
I got it then.
Opening those boxes would be like opening a 20-year old can of worms. There would be items that would bring a smile to his face because of the fun memories that were made. But there were other things that would remind him that he was wearing that when his buddy didn’t leave that foreign land alive.
There are so many memories, so many emotions. There are too many items with sentimental value. Way too many years of trips, trainings, deployments and experiences would disappear the moment they were sold. Wow! It dawned on me that I had not been seeing things from that point of view.
Do you see it now? How can I push that? How can I ask him to face all that and get rid of it? I am not saying that I would let him keep it forever, but he did say that it wasn’t time yet. I respect that.
He is aware that the stuff it taking up a lot of room and that we cannot keep it indefinitely, but it will be a process. It might take some time and maybe some conversation to talk about those memories.
I will be there for him to listen to him and I will be there for him to help in any way that he might need as he goes through this process. If you are having the same issue at home, I hope that my story helps you to see it from a different perspective and that you, like me, can be patient and be there for your hubby.
As Army wives (active or retired), we are called to be patient and understanding of our husbands.
They have sacrificed so much (including their lives) for us, their friends, their unit, their country, that this gear means a lot more to them than we will probably ever understand. It will take some time, so I want to encourage us to be gentle and kind. To help them be it patiently waiting for them to sort gear, discussion events that we may not have ever thought we’d hear about or helping them with their journey through PTSD.
This is why…we are the silent ranks.