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Typical Military Couple – Cindy Sheehan Fans

If you have followed the endless press releases coming from first Camp Casey and now Mother Sheehan’s Support The Terrorists bus tour, you will noticed front and center one Tammara Rosenleaf [ sic ].

Here is just a brief sampling of her effluence, courtesy of Google.

Like soldiers’ wives almost nowhere, Tarmmara loathes and despises the cause for which her husband might be asked to fight. Indeed, she appears to loathe and despise the very country her husband signed up to defend.

But who are we to judge until we have walked a peace rally in her Birkenstocks?

So sit back and enjoy this riveting portrait of a soldier and his bride from the pages of the vaunted Helena Independent Record:

A couple’s balancing act

by Laura Tode – IR Staff Writer, Helena Independent Record
July 16th, 2005

Tammara Rosenleaf wears a steel dog tag around her neck stamped with her husband’s name and social security number. Alongside the tag she often wears the number 85441, a reminder of one of an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq since the war started. The number was assigned by Counting the Cost, an organization aimed at raising awareness of the human cost of the war in Iraq.

Side by side, the two emblems present a striking dichotomy that is representative of her marriage to U.S. Army Spc. Sean Hefflin.

Tears well to her eyes as she slips the steel tag along the chain around her neck, and her voice rises with emotion when she talks about the war. Rosenleaf has been a fervent and outspoken anti-war activist since U.S. troops first invaded Iraq [in March 2003]. Her husband Sean Hefflin, 26, joined the Army in October last year [2004]. He’s leaving for Iraq in November.

The couple talked for weeks about the decision. He decided to enlist even though Rosenleaf said she believed he was making a serious mistake.

"Every move that he makes closer to contributing to the destruction of Iraq, I make a move in the opposite direction," she said.

Her efforts include frequent anti-war protests and active involvement in Military Families Speak Out, an organization for soldiers’ families who oppose the war in Iraq.

Rosenleaf’s bracelets jingle when she talks, and her wavy red hair fights the braid it’s tied into. She is passionate by nature, and war and her husband’s decision to join the military have made her more so.

She may oppose the war, but Rosenleaf is every bit a soldier’s wife, proud, supportive and concerned for her husband’s safety.

"I can be proud of my husband, and ashamed of my government at the same time," she said. "I clearly know those two things are apart from each other."

At 47, Rosenleaf grew up with the memory of Vietnam, and watched an uncle pass away from exposure to Agent Orange. She said Hefflin and most people his age have no context on which to base their values.

"He doesn’t have a consciousness yet to know what he’s doing," Rosenleaf said. "When he goes over there and sees for himself, I believe he’ll develop that consciousness."

The two talk frequently about the war, its effects and the role of the U.S. military in rebuilding the country. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don’t, but their discussions are respectful.

"I understand where Tammara is coming from and I don’t disagree with her. I believe the points she makes are valid, solid points that if more people had made, we would have fewer people there," he added. "I wish more people in this country believed like she does."

In the standard-issue camouflage uniform and crew cut, Hefflin chooses his words with care when he talks of about Iraq.

"I don’t believe we should be there in the first place, but what I believe personally doesn’t matter," he said. "What matters is that I follow orders and accomplish the mission and come home alive."

But just coming home alive won’t cover his wife’s fears. Not only is she scared she’ll lose her husband, she also worries that once Hefflin experiences war and sees the damage being done in Iraq, he will be scarred either physically or emotionally.

Aside from what she fears for her husband, Rosenleaf said she can’t guess what her reaction to him will be when he returns. She knows that in at least some small way he will have contributed to what she believes is the destruction of a country.

"I may not be able to resolve my moral issues about him having done it," Rosenleaf said, choking back a sob. "I may have to choose to let my life go on without Sean. Life will change and he won’t be a part of it. It will be devastating."

Hefflin said he’s always been drawn to uniformed service, and has considered a career in the military since before he met his wife. When he first considered the military, he was drawn to combat arms, military police or infantry.

After a long discussion before Sean enlisted, he promised Rosenleaf that he would seek a position that would keep him from seeing combat. He works with computers as a topographic analyst. If he’s deployed, he’ll lay out computerized projections for his commanders to use in combat. It’s not an exciting job, he admits, but he said it’s interesting, and he likes his team.

"If we were not together, I’d probably stay longer," Sean said.

Right now, Hefflin is in Fort Hood, Texas. He’s settled into military life comfortably and said he is "as ready as he can be" for deployment. After seeing her husband only three times since he left for basic training nine months ago, Rosenleaf resigned her job, packed her bags and is leaving this weekend to join him.

She hopes she’ll find strong support group of likeminded people, but doubts she’ll fit in in a military town. She said she won’t stay after her husband is deployed but will probably move back to Washington state where most of her friends live, maybe go back to college and get her Ph.D.

Rosenleaf is afraid her marriage won’t survive deployment, and Hefflin said he is worried too.

"I will still write to him every day," Rosenleaf said. "If there’s any hope of this working out and us coming through this it will be because of things like that."

I don’t know why, but I can’t help but feel that this echoes the untold story of Spc. Casey Sheehan’s enlistment (and re-enlistment) as well.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, September 8th, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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