DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from "Feeling Guilty, Memphis, Tenn." (9/6) from a woman wanting to call off her engagement to a soldier stationed in Iraq. You stated, "Under no circumstances should you ..." From my experience, I disagree.
I am an Operation Iraqi Freedom widow. I have maintained a steady friendship with my husband's fellow soldiers and their mates. Military personnel stationed in a war zone develop bonds stronger than blood ties. They eat, bathe, sleep, live and die together. I say, call him and tell him the truth. His comrades will know how to comfort him. When his tour is up, he will no longer have that 24/7 support.
Soldiers face enough problems readjusting to civilian life without dealing with a broken heart. If she waits and he dies, it will scar her for life. What if he has her listed as his beneficiary on his life insurance policy? If she doesn't want him anymore, should she still receive $500,000? I have seen this happen with my own eyes. -- MILITARY WIDOW, VALDOSTA, GA.
DEAR MILITARY WIDOW: Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. Although I did receive mail from some readers who agree that the young man should be told, I received more thanking me for having urged the writer not to send a Dear John letter. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend of almost two years has recently been deployed. Before he left, we had a discussion about what to do if I met someone else. He brought the topic up, and asked that I tell him as soon as possible if I wanted to break up. He valued honesty and respect more than having his feelings spared and my going behind his back. It's a discussion every couple facing deployment should have.
If she tells him now, he has his chaplain to go to and the other men around who are experiencing -- or have experienced -- infidelity. I think her fiance would be better served by her respect, not her guilt. -- GIRLFRIEND IN S.C.
DEAR ABBY: When my son got married, just before his first deployment, my sister-in-law said to me, "She better not write him a Dear John letter while he's over there!" I just laughed and said they'd known each other for four years, had just gotten married, and she wasn't even giving them a chance.
My son got a Dear John e-mail from his wife (his first and only love), spoke to her on the phone as soon as he could get through, and about an hour later he was gone -- a self-inflicted gunshot to the heart.
I know our daughter-in-law didn't mean for this to happen. Her parents advised her to go ahead and tell him. If they had only had the chance to read your column, perhaps they would have advised her differently, and I would still have my son.
I hope your column will save some other Marine's life. He showed no signs of depression before this and did not use drugs or alcohol. We miss our son terribly, and I want you to know that when I read your reply to that young woman, it felt really good to see you stress, "Under no circumstances ..." Thank you from the bottom of one Gold Star mother's heart. -- GOLD STAR MOM IN MARYLAND
DEAR ABBY: Regarding "Feeling Guilty," do you think you would have given the same lecture had it been a man asking about breaking up with a woman in the military in Iraq? -- CHERYL IN OKLAHOMA CITY
DEAR CHERYL: Absolutely! Readers, more on this tomorrow.