This is an interesting article (at the bottom), especially for those that haven’t served, been shot at, heard the zip of a AK round go over your head, heard the burst of an RPG slam in the deck, or been hit with an IED or worse, been trying to save a fellow warrior in some crap village in Afg/Iraq.
There are thousands of warriors who were trained to do some very nasty stuff to our enemies. I’m not talking about the dudes hanging out in Kuwait, living large, I’m talking about the young steely eyed killers who went/go toe to toe with some very bad people, operated out of forward operating bases, chewed nasty dna filled moon dust, and fought through sand storms. You know who you are/aren’t.
I spent a majority of my adult life (15 years) of it training young Marines tactics, and the training to do one thing. Kill enemies and we are good at it. Very good. It is a shock to the system to come back to the US after you have been riding on the best “drug” out there. Pure 100% adrenalin.
That’s when I guess I really appreciated life. The first time a badguy shot at me. Not the building next to me, not the group as a whole, me. It’s fcking scary, anyone says it isn’t is full of shit. It happens so fast you don’t really take it all in, until about an hour later your like “that fcking sucked”.
Or perhaps, my first IED strike, was in slow motion. However, when my hummer door was blown off, all I could think about is “oh shit, I’m about to get riddled with AK rounds”.
Then, there is the amped up feeling when you get good intel that there is a badguy house just next to your pos and they are about to ambush you, and you ambush them and win.
When you enter an Afghani village that has been threatened, tortured, beaten and you secure it, kill the badguys that were killing innocent kids and women and you see a child that isn’t sure to believe you or not that the bad guys are gone. But when they do realize it, there is no feeling in the world when someone looks at you and although can’t speak your language you know they are grateful as hell. It’s like adopting a dog from the pound. That F’er knows you just saved its ass. Ya, that kind of look.
Ya, no one gets your jokes (I quit telling them unless I’m with a close nit group) and ya, they may look at you like you were a waste. Only because they are ignorant.
However, although I have not experienced anything like any of my combat tours back here in the states, there was no greater feeling knowing the Marines had your back and you had theirs. That the Marines in the air would go down fighting before they let you down, they never did. I had Marines that knew my thoughts before I said them, we were that tight. I haven’t experienced that back in the states. Perhaps, those that haven’t experienced a combat deployment don’t really fathom the “teamwork” that can be achieved and thus, think they are already operating at a high level. You’re not.
When you spend seven months running on coffee, red bulls, cigars, Copenhagen, ave of 4 hours a sleep in an environment where people are hunting you to kill you and you are hunting them (humans) you develop a heightened sense of daily life. That’s not the case back in the states.
“But, there are those of us that still feel we have more to contribute. There are those of us who aren’t meant for a desk. There are men in this world still willing to go out there, for whatever reason, and skull-fuck the enemies of the USA. But, is there really a place for us any more?”
So what do you do? Stay engaged. I like to surround myself with smart guys that were there/chewed the same dirt because talking about shitting in a garbage bag for seven months usually doesn’t win you points at a dinner party of non-military types. Just saying. You got to stay in shape as it not only keeps ya in shape, it helps me think clearly and stay active. Do something you like, anything, mountain climb, work at a veteran centric business, have a purpose.
Many of our warriors who commit suicide don’t have fellow vets to talk to. They are in Kansas in some remote town or something. They begin drinking because their life is boring without the adrenalin rush and brotherhood and they are miserable. I can’t imagine not being around fellow warriors. It would suck.
Unless your neighborhood warriors are “lucky” their VA is only kinda helpful. There is a difference talking to a VA rep who had served and some fat ass who wants to put you on medication.
Everyone and I mean everyone handles combat differently. There is no right or wrong, except for when I hear of some dude who was in the rear with the gear and heard that a mortar round was fired at their base one time and is now claiming severe ptsd. Maybe they have it, maybe they are trying to work the system.
However, trying to “help” a vet who is getting on the edge of bad things, it’s hard to talk to them if they know you haven’t been there. Their openness is only going to be so much. However, if you can get them talking to a total stranger who “was there” it could open them up allot, without medicating them. It’s a tough thing to do. I’ve visited Marines that knew I was there and I knew they were there but they were so tired of the touchy feely shit back in the states, it took allot to get him to open up. Once he did, he began to get allot better. Many just want to talk.
My other fear is that the world will bury what we’ve done. The history books will refer to our endeavors the way I learned about Vietnam. The story I was told by my teachers was wildly different than the stories my father shared. His wasn’t stories of mistakes, his was a story of brotherhood and sacrifice.
Think about this when you meet a vet, one who was shot at or blown up and know, this guy is use to running at 170000rpm on power drinks and little sleep. He’s pushed his body to the max and is now running at maybe 150rpms. The engine wants to go, it’s used to going and going fast with the possibility of getting shot. That’s a hard thing to adjust to.
Time for a C-Gar
“I want to be dead with my friends….where the iron sharpens the iron.”-Every Time I Die
I am bearing witness to the end of an era. I have the distinct blessing, or the agonizing misfortune of having front-row seats to the death throes of a creature that has defined a generation. This creature is what my buddies and I refer to as the Global War On Terror (GWOT for short). 13 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and two presidents later, those of us who contributed our very being to this endeavor are left thinking, “What now?” Read more here