Losing confidence in the Army: a wife’s perspective

Today’s guest post is from an ‘Army Wife in Brisbane’.

Her name is withheld for obvious reasons. If it was released her husband may well end up losing his job. That is a sad state of affairs in any business, but when it infects Defence, an organisation supposedly charged with protecting Australia’s freedom, it is particularly scandalous.

I do not publish this post lightly. But it is important to realise that there are many, many within Defence (and their families) who are concerned about their ability to publicly express their religious beliefs. Unless this problem is confronted, it will not go away: it will only get worse. Openly proud and patriotic Christians have died for Australia in the past. Those sacrifices should not be forgotten. Moreover, openly proud and patriotic Christians should not be prevented from serving in the future.

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Courage comes in many different forms. The word summons up images of heroes: men and women, who live and die in defence of a nation or a people or a principle. As Australians, our minds also turn naturally to the veterans who continue to bring honour to their country with every story retold – every selfless act remembered. As family members of Australian Army servicemen and women, our minds turn to the husband or wife, son or daughter, father or mother whose return we anxiously await during the odd night duty, training course or long exercise, and of course, the agonizing tours overseas.

Sometimes, the waiting seems an eternity.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes our loved ones don’t return.

I am an Army wife and, so far, I have been one of the lucky ones. I don’t mean to imply that Army careers are the only ones that pose a challenge for families. But I won’t try to downplay the burden of regular separations either. I cannot speak for all Army wives, but I am not alone in relying on one consolation to get me through the separations – long and short – and I don’t mean the promise of a medal or a weighty paycheck. My comparatively small burden is bearable because – until recently, at least – I knew that my husband’s work served a greater cause, and that in missing him, I was doing my country a service in my own small way. Then the news about the Chief of Army and his transgender Lieutenant Colonel running Major Bernie Gaynor over hot coals broke, and that ‘greater cause’ suddenly lost its consoling charm.

When I sat down to write this article, it was my intention to write dispassionately. It’s difficult to be dispassionate, however, when a true blue Australian and loyal Army serviceman is turned upon by the very institution that decorated him for his service, commitment and professionalism. When moral courage becomes a target on a soldier’s back, or a thorn in the foot of a hierarchy that has lost its sense of comradeship, it taints the whole history and tradition of the Australian Army in the process.

Sometimes it is wise to censor our raw emotions; to stopper the rant that we are dying to let loose on a bully or a tyrant. And sometimes it is time to unleash.

As an Army wife, the idea of a long-serving officer being bullied for his personal beliefs is disturbing. After all, if a ranking Iraq veteran isn’t safe from bigotry and scapegoating, who is? I can only imagine what Bernie’s wife and children are going through, and wonder if my husband could be next; if I should start hoarding pennies and looking about for somewhere else to live, in case, during an unguarded moment, he lets slip a comment about religion, Army policy, the Mardi Gras, education…and who knows what other topic that might see him under investigation by a confused and apparently trigger-happy hierarchy.

As a Catholic, the utter contradiction of an Army that supports and applauds some for the public parading of gay and lesbian rights at an X-rated event, while censuring and threatening another for personal religious beliefs is a slap in the face. Australians owe a debt of gratitude and respect to a long line of Catholic servicemen and women who have given their lives for the ‘greater cause’. Today, their legacy is worthless and forgotten.

As an Australian, the Chief of Army’s assistant openly maligning decorated Australian servicemen and war veterans in a public forum – using his rank and title to involve the Australian Army in his disgraceful behaviour – makes my blood boil. When Major Bernard Gaynor became the target of a campaign of blatant religious persecution, Christian Diggers rolled in their graves; and a good number of military families were struck by the idea that the Australian Army is supposed to be better than that. What do we have to get us through the lonely weeks and months now?

I should add that I am by no means ‘anti-military’. I do not resent the Australian Army, and I fully appreciate its role in providing for the security of all Australians, and assisting with international peacekeeping. I should also mention that the Australian Army has provided my husband with a flexible career and work that he genuinely enjoys, and our family with a generous income with many benefits in terms of housing, healthcare, and home-buying incentives. For that I am truly grateful. All the benefits, however, apparently come at a greater cost than the lonely days and nights that we civilians are warned about when ‘marrying’ into Army life.

The Chief of Army would have it that Christians leave their beliefs and practices at the door. That our men and women leave courage and professionalism and initiative to the cartoon heroes and history books – at least until their leaders are taken by a new whim…who knows, perhaps Christianity will be in vogue next! Until then, Christian soldiers will have to restrict their work conversations to comments about the weather. Meanwhile, to replace the consolation of serving a good cause, we Army wives may have to find another: maybe those chocolate-free New Year’s resolutions will be dropped. Somehow, I don’t think it will taste that sweet.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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13 Comments

  1. What a self-pitying piece of nonsense. People have interpreted Christian beliefs to justify the Crusades and prayers about the “pernicious Jew”. My advice to hubby would be get a grip, get on with it or get out.

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    • Now tell me, Bob, why should the Crusades not have been justified? Show us your knowledge of history and explain why the Arab Moslem armies should have remained free to conquer and slaughter their way across the Middle-East without meeting any resistance? You didn’t know the Middle-East was Christian long before the Islamic conquest did you? What an inappropriate and senseless response to a well written and educated post.

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  2. A very honest peice from an Army Wife perspective. the article reflects and details the repression of religious freedom within the ADF and highlights that the ADF are fast forgetting why we have ANZAC day as well as Rememberance day. Thankyou to the Lady who wrote this piece for sacrificing precious family time during your husbands training and deployment.

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  3. Your beliefs are just that, yours. You have the right to live your life by them and use them as your moral compass, but you do not have the right to enforce them on others, and nor do others have the right to enforce their beliefs on you. That is why it is so often stated that you should leave your beliefs at the door, so you get on with the job. Do not confuse anothers desire to live their life in the open and not hide their sexuality as a part of their identity as them enforcing their beliefs on you. It’s not. It’s merely the wish of them to not have to hide behind ‘My Spouse” or ‘My Partner” when referring to “My Boyfriend” Or “My Girlfriend”, just as you would resent not being able to refer to your significant other in gendered terms. It is merely affording others the rights and privileges we expect ourselves. At the end of the day this is a most “Christian” mode of behavior following the teaching “Do unto others”. If you can not understand this then perhaps you need to examine your faith deeper for the answers you seek rather than relying on Dogma of the Catholic Church.

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    • This comment is outrageously hypocritical and dishonest. For a start, the post did not claim anywhere that homosexuals should be forced to hide behind a ‘fake’ spouse, nor did it even suggest that Christianity be forced upon others. But perhaps the most ironic thing about it is your claim that Catholics should leave their beliefs at the door, while demanding that others should be free to bring them into the workplace. That’s not a very ‘do unto others’ type attitude. By the way, as marriage law says that it is between a man and a woman, aren’t pro-gay marriage people like yourself trying to force a change on others in society who are perfectly happy with this law?

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    • Nice bunch of words there, Ras. But just how exactly do they relate to the letter written by the Army wife? Your comment is in no way related to its contents and subject matter – and so must therefore be regarded as just another aimless, pointless rant. I hope you now feel better, having got it off your heaving, seething chest.

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  4. What a sad and confused woman. As per usual, members of the Christian right demanding their values be recognised above everyone elses. As a modern employer, Defence expects all employees to treat each other with respect, regardless of their personal beliefs – of her husband cannot comply, then I suggest that he deserves to find his career cut short.

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    • As usual, the left believes respect equates to forcing Christians to leave their beliefs at the door. That is not respect. It is repression.

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      • Reverend Ian Paisley spoke similarly of a right to profess and practice his Christian belief when he proclaimed the Pope John Pail II to be the Anti-Christ.

    • Barack says that “Defence expects all employees to treat each other with respect, regardless of their personal beliefs”. Barack no doubt applauds uniformed ADF attendance at, and participation in, the annual Sydney Gay Mardi Gras. Where is the respect at that sad event, Barack me old cock, when militant homosexuals mince about dressed as nuns, carrying signs proclaiming the “Jesus is gay”? They do everything they can to mock, deride and scorn the Catholic Church – and the CDF supports them in their efforts. Yes, Barack says that “Defence expects all employees to treat each other with respect”. What Barack means is that all soldiers, sailors and airmen must bow before the modern saints of our era who can do no wrong and who are perfect in every way – the homosexuals.

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      • @ No need for you to be on your knees before homosexuals, sainted or otherwise. But brace yourself, homosexuality and lesbianism is emerging from even the best families. Let us pray for its recriminalisation, the return of electric shop therapy for treatment and a good Christian stoning for any recalcitrants.

    • Her husband is no doubt a better soldier than the kind you admire, BO. If his career is cut short it will the Army’s and Australia’s loss, not his. Why would a man want to risk his life defending the likes of you?

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    • Barack; standards, discipline, efficiency make good soldiers and are the hallmarks of healthy, functional military. None of which is possible without a value system based on principle. Principles are impervious to tinkering by virtue of their origin. Reality will endure, irrespective of any outrageous dog and pony show the queer lobby assails it with. Nature obliges eventually and when the chips are down man clings to the truth that has finally rooted him out. The military, experts in the law of unintended consequences, knows this better than any other secular institution. Furthermore, courage is founded on conviction, the integrity of which is it’s measure. Conviction founded on truth beats false conviction, hands down, any day. Once again, the military knows this. Make no mistake, they have a fitting plan for the homosexual movement within their ranks and it is not noble. This post is an example of good Australian values which comprise the substrate of true courage. Keep your chin up ma’am and continue stand by your man and your country. Australia wants you because when the need arises, our people most certainly will not have confidence in the protection of those whose false values are in diametric opposition to all that gives rise to life. The majority of Australians are still good, discerning citizens. Add a dash of that to your g&t and don’t forget to pull the pin on those pearls before you lug any more 🙂

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