Widows' talk

Military wives debate new policy giving them control over coverage of their own fallen.

Published March 18, 2009 4:24PM (EDT)

The Pentagon is reportedly set to lift the ban on media coverage of soldiers' caskets arriving at Dover Air Force Base. Now it's no longer the Decider, say, who gets to decide who doesn't see what; soon, a new policy will reportedly allow cameras to roll, but only with family members' permission. While it is a victory, in principle, for a free and unfettered press, it is not, as Lily Burana writes in today's L.A. Times, a simple decision for those grieving families in question.

"A recent poll indicated that two-thirds of Americans are in favor of the change," notes Burana, author of "I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles" and wife of a vet of both the Iraq and Persian Gulf wars. "Within my own circle of active-duty military and veterans' wives, the numbers are little different. In fact, they're in constant flux, as we hotly debate the issue at playgrounds, in cafes and on blogs. We go back and forth: Which side do you favor -- the public's right to know or your own right to privacy? In this wide-ranging spousal social network, there are stay-at-home moms and soldiers, PhDs and burlesque dancers, Bible-clutching liberals and conservatives who never darken a church doorstep. Contrary to stereotype, we don't move in Stepfordian lock step, and our opinions are as diverse as our ranks."

And: "The image of the modern military spouse is half-frontier wife, half-Care Bear -- by turns stoically able and cooingly comforting. But when it comes to acting on behalf of our kin and the larger military family, make no mistake: Wives are warriors too."

Click here to read Burana's affecting, harrowing exploration of the debate within her own ranks. (And while you're at it, click here and wonder: Is there enough of a "spousal network" for widowers, too?)

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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