America's 1.4 million service members are about to get a new boss. And like the rest of America, they're divided over the coming presidency of Donald Trump. And a little anxious.
Ahead of the election, some polls showed military voters heavily favoring Trump. But the day after, an editor at Military.com saw what looked like an even split among her readers. Her Nov. 9 blog acknowledged the divisions, then focused on the qualities that unite the military community.
"Some of you are rejoicing. Some of you are scared," wrote Amy Bushatz, senior content editor for the site's spouse and family section. "But we all still need each other."
"We're really a tight-knit community," says Bushatz, whose husband served for nearly 11 years in the Army. "So we need to maintain that [unity] that allows us to get through the challenges that are military life."
Ways to overcome divisions? Her blog lists half a dozen, including a call for servicemen and women to take pride in who they are, and in the democratic process they're sworn to defend. "You may not love who won, but you've got to be proud of the process," she wrote in her article, "What Military Families Should Do After An Election."
"We're talking about ways that we can really move forward as a community and support our commander-in chief," she says, "even though we may be a part of the community that doesn't believe that this person is the best fit for that role." Of course, she points out, many in the armed forces are pleased with the election results.
On the campaign trail, Trump talked about increasing the size of the Army. But he also talked about rethinking US commitments to NATOand traditional allies like Japan. As the new administration settles on its security objectives, military families will be living with uncertainty.
"They don't know what's next for them," says Bushatz. "Anytime we switch commander-in-chief, there's a little bit of uncertainty there: What will benefits look like? What will pay checks look like? The president sets the policy that has to do with the military, and then Congress approves it. ... And because this election was so divisive, that uncertainty is higher."
Over the coming months, military families across the United States and stationed at US bases worldwide will be waiting for word from their commanders. "We're always waiting and seeing," Bushatz says, "for the next order, or waiting for the next move, or the next deployment or the next homecoming, and so this just adds an extra level of stress to that."
Bushatz says the president-elect's choice of a secretary of defense will be an indicator of the Trump administration's direction.
She says that Trump, as a candidate, made inconsistent statements about gay and lesbian service members.
"So our gay and lesbian service members, who only recently had permission to serve openly and to have their families be a part of the military community, are really looking at what's going to happen very closely," she says, "and many of them are afraid that they're not going to be allowed to serve anymore, that they're going to have to get out."
"We have an ongoing transition in the military about transgender service members," Bushatz adds, "and the Veterans Administration recently decided they are going to scrap an upcoming policy that they were working on to allow sex-change surgerieswithin the VA for transgender former service members."
Amy Bushatz says that, like many of her readers, she will be waiting and watching over the coming weeks. "I think we'll see a lot more of that sort of uncertainty. And questions. And — I hate to say it again — and waiting."
From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI