Sunday, August 01, 2004

"Dear John ... "

The earliest reference to a "Dear John" letter appeared in an American publication in 1945. Here's the exact quote: "'Dear John,' the letter began, 'I have found someone else whom I think the world of. I think the only way out is for us to get a divorce,' it said. They usually began like that, those letters that told of infidelity on the part of the wives of servicemen. The men called them 'Dear Johns'."

It's a sad, but true fact that "Dear John" letters are a real part of every military deployment, and the deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom is no exception. However, in these "modern times," the "Dear John" arrives not only by letter, but via email and "morale calls" as well. (

Here's a note from a member of's message forum: "I think it's extremely sad that the wives or the husbands or girlfriends or boyfriends can't even stand a period of seperation (no matter for whatever reason, deployment or not). I understand it is very difficult for everyone who's deployed and their spouses/bf/gf. But you marry someone because you love that person, not so you'll have someone to sleep with or so you don't feel alone. Those soldiers are fighting for their lives and their safety, and what support do they get from back home? A dear john letter/email/phone call? Now they have nothing to look forward to."

With the advent of technology -- e-mail, cell phones, instant messanger and calling cards -- a soldier can stay in touch with home on a daily basis. This is mostly a good thing; however, it can sometimes be a bad thing. Just as those phone lines and e-mails deliver good news, they also deliver bad news. War causes stress. That is an understatement. When you add the stress of family situations and other problems from home on top of the tribulations of combat, and an unforgiving and austeer environment, it can become almost unbearable for some.

Here's how one British unit chose to address the 'Dear John' problem in their unit. "In 161 Battery it was traditional that if any member of the Battery got a 'Dear John' while the Battery was away anywhere, then the letter was pinned on the Battery Notice Board and each and every member of the Unit wrote back a 'Dirty Bitch' letter to his 'ex' just to let her know that what she had done was a shitty thing and that we all hoped that her new found love gave her Herpes. I think I approve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a healthy and eloquent way to handle yourself! We are proud. Just give us the address to send the letter!!!!