PROTECTING THE MOTHERLAND

PHS student discusses her life as a Navy baby

The+crew+of+The+Carolyn+Chouest+gathered+together+to+take+a+group+picture.

Photo courtesy: Joshua Crimm

The crew of The Carolyn Chouest gathered together to take a group picture.

Up until the sixth grade I had never spent more than one year at a school. When I was 8 years old my mother woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me a grenade had been launched into my dad’s base camp in Afghanistan and the East Coast would forever be my true home.

Yup, you guessed it, I’m a Navy baby. 

When I mention that my father, Joshua Crimm, was in Seal Team 10, people naturally get the idea he is this buff, Dawyne Johnson-like fella who kicks down doors of terrorists for a living, but behind every great Spider-man is a Tony Stark commanding them. My father was part of Naval Special Warfare and therefore a huge nerd; yes, that is where I get it from. He flies drones to spy on enemies, and before he flew drones, he worked on helicopters. My dad isn’t in the Navy anymore; now he’s contracted by the government to do basically the same thing he did before. 

Since I can remember, my father has left for 6-9 months to go to work. When I lived in various places on the East Coast, this was a fairly normal phenomena for other kids; however, when I moved to Wyoming, this was not the case. Not many kids who live in a landlocked state have parents in the Navy. There were a select few kids who had parents in the Army, but it felt as if the majority of occupations being filled were agricultural-based.

I am a firm believer things happen for a reason, and when an obstacle is placed in someone’s way, there’s a very specific reason for said obstacle. But I don’t want this story to look like a pity-party because it’s quite the opposite; this story is both a celebration of Navy babies and what they overcome, as well as raising awareness for some of the little trials others may overlook when this topic is discussed.

Even though I’ve lived with his absence since I was very young, it definitely doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye when it’s time for him to go to work again. I also can’t really afford to let it bother me; the responsibilities of school, activities, friends, and family don’t allow me such a luxury. The most people will see is me acting salty about one thing or another and then ending my rant with, “But it’s not like he’s been serving our country for two decades.” This statement is the Navy baby equivalent to “but I’m not bitter.” 

Usually when it’s time for my dad to leave, we don’t take him to the airport because a formal goodbye ends up making things more difficult. He says goodbye the night before when we’re going to bed, then when we wake up he isn’t there anymore.There’s always this feeling hanging around when he leaves because all of us are just kind of moping around the house, it’s not exactly what you’d call a “fun time.” However, when my dad’s gone there’s always one thing to look forward to: him sending memes and pictures of the cool places he goes to the family group cha (unless the Navy doesn’t want to pay for the internet on the ship).

I like to make jokes every so often about taxpayer dollars, but unfortunately the following statement isn’t a joke: Taxpayer dollars went into an impeachment trial that cost over $11 million and went absolutely nowhere, but they didn’t go into paying for internet on a Navy ship so our soldiers could contact their family. As much as I would like to make the claim that the men and women on that naval ship can’t contact their families because of some really cool reason that has to do with not letting the enemy locate them, that’s not the case.

My father has been involved in much more secretive and “epic” missions and maintained contact with us during those, plus he is allowed to text us if he sails past an island with service. In fact, just recently, he was telling me about a “ginger” on the ship that he and all the other guys make fun of for being ginger. So they’ll pay for an $11 million impeachment trial but not for the internet on a naval ship so the soldiers serving our country can contact their family? Yeah, that makes sense, it’s not like my father has served our country for two decades.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very real and very under-discussed and dealt-with problem with our soldiers. PTSD does not just affect soldiers; it also affects their families. Watching someone you love experience PTSD is very stressful as well as the fact that the one you love is changed forever. On Aug. 4, 2011, in Helmand Province near the city of Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, a frag grenade was launched into my father’s base; no one was killed, but nine were injured. Among those nine was my father. I don’t remember much from this time of my life because I generally try to block it out, but I do remember being woken up by my very pregnant mom and being told that my dad was hit with a grenade. Unfortunately to this day I consider that year a negative turning point of my life.

It’s no secret I am a somewhat troubled human, which by the way is perfectly OK, but I think an indirect cause of all of that is being a Navy baby. Once again, I’m not looking for pity, I wear with pride my father’s Navy hoodie, but there’s a lot more that goes into being both in the military or being related to someone who is. I want to bring light to those issues and maybe clear some of the problems for the future Navy babies.

I can’t change the past, but I certainly can help shape the future.