GABBARD: So as political conversations go on about the war and should we be there or shouldn't we? Or what do we do with the troops? Or how do we equip them? There's a lot of chitter chatter that goes on, but what it comes down to and what gets lost often times is the literal sacrifice and the cost.
The cost on lives, the cost on families and the stresses that are placed upon both the soldiers and their family members every single day. It's not when you say goodbye and you jump on a plane, or when you get home. Those are major events that have consequences, but literally every single day, not knowing if you're going to get home to see your loved ones. And for me, you know, I went through this process before I left and I kinda made peace with that and I knew, you know, that anything could happen, and I needed to be prepared for that.
But what I didn't realize at the time was the stresses of my being gone- I didn't realize that the stresses of my being gone and in Iraq were having on my family here at home. So, you know, I'm a soldier, I'm trained to fight, I'm trained to do different things, so, you know, I am excited about doing my job I'm proud of the fact that I can do a good job at it.
So when I, you know, would call home from Iraq and I would say, "Hey, guess what Mom?" You know, I'm about to jump on a Black Hawk, and we're going to go down to Baghdad, and I'm going to bring these medical supplies to our troops down there," and I was excited about it, you know, and when I would be met with silence at the other end of the phone I would be like, "Come on. Can't you be excited for me? This is cool stuff."
And so I didn't I didn't get it at that time. But when we came home after being gone for 18 months, we were standing in the hangar, at Wheeler Airfield, all of us, hundreds of us standing in formation, our families, just 20 feet away, so close, but we had to stand there and wait to be dismissed before we could greet them, and when the general announced that we were dismissed, you know, I ran to my parents and and hugged my dad first, and I just will never forget how tightly he held me, and how much he was crying.
And it was at that moment, you know, that I really realized how much pressure was placed on them, how stressed out they were every day that I was gone. And, you know, someone like my father as we all believe our fathers are invincible and they're supermen and never cry, but that really shook me. It shook me, and, you know it explained to me the cost on families more than any words ever could.