Do Veterans Miss War?
KAMERON DELANY IS A MARINE COMBAT VETERAN AND CEO of the RONIN VETERAN NETWORK (http://roninvn.org)
I want to look at and scratch the surface of a subject that I am very passionate about, veterans issues. And this isn’t directed exclusively at veterans, I want everyone on here to read this. This is something that all people need to understand.
First off, lets identify what we are talking about before dive head first into the deep end. What are veterans issues and why should anyone care? Veterans issues at the least are the stresses and the small struggles military veterans have to deal with when they finish their obligatory service. Finances, new job, relationships, starting a new life basically. At the most concerning is the suicide epidemic plaguing the vet community with 22+ suicides A DAY, and the ridiculous vet homelessness rates in the US. Tens of thousands of vets live on the street every night, most not knowing where the next meal is coming from. But this article is not about numbers or identification, or even what miracle plan I have to save the world. This is about why the hell we are at this point.
There’s a pretty damn good point Sebastian Junger makes in one of his TED Talk videos: “Why veterans miss war.” (link below). For a non military guy, he hits it right on the head. Veterans miss war not for the killing, but because they miss the camaraderie, and the brotherhood associated with war. Fuckin bingo, I couldn’t agree more.
I was on the front lines of one of the worst spots in Afghanistan, Sangin Valley 2010-’11. We left with a battalion of bout 800+. We took 25 killed in action and over 200 wounded in 6 months. It was called the worst fighting in the history of the US involvement in Afghanistan. We lost a lot of Marines and we took out a shit ton of bad guys. Daily gun fights and legendary stories. It was pretty wild, but thats not why I miss it. I honestly don’t think too highly of any of that. I miss it because of the growth as a man I went though via trial by fire. I miss the brother hood I had with guys to the left and right of me. Those guys were my family and I still love them to the day. It’s a feeling, a love and a mentality that cannot be fully explained to those that didn’t experience it. But thats not anything thats bad or regrettable. Its just how it is. We had purpose, we had mission. We were going through hell and kicking ass along the way. There was so much to it.
So whats my point? Well, when we get out, we instantaneously lose all that purpose and brotherhood. Its fuckin harsh. I came back from Afghanistan and 4 weeks later I was living in my white walled apartment in Texas with just me, myself, and I. No family, friends, vets, or even resources to really help. 4 weeks before, I was gunfighting and playing hopscotch in the most heavily IED’d (land mines) area of operation ever. Now, I had no clue what to do next. I was wired and programmed for a purpose and now I was living in a college town with 50,000 students that I couldn’t relate with. It was hell. I cried, I screamed, I fought and I did stupid shit. Was I nuts? No, I was just dealing with stress. Its understandable, everything I had known since I was 17 just flipped in one night.
But, I was lucky, so very fortunate to have another path presented to me a few weeks later. I went back overseas on the private side and did security in the Middle East. It was my taper back into society. 3 1/2 months gone, a month back. I know most vets aren’t as lucky as I was. And this is where I think the problem lies. VETERANS NEED A PURPOSE AGAIN. I honestly believe its one of our nations greatest untapped resources. Veteran experience and wisdom. Not in the arrogant way mind you, but in the way of using our skills and experiences to help society and the people. I don’t think I deserve anything, I just don’t deserve to have to deal with extra bullshit on top of all the crap civilians have to deal with. I don’t expect to be thanked, I just don’t want to be looked at like a psycho or as a loser. Which is something that unavoidably happens when people learn about my background.
We come back from war or service and theres no pooling of resources or push for vets to continue to do good. There are some phenomenal programs and companies out there designed to help, but they are hard to find. “What about the VA system?” Mother fucker please, thats a nightmare and most vets don’t want to jump through hoops or be degraded in order to receive the drama that comes with “VA benefits.” What we need is the rekindling of the fire to “get back into the fight”. We need to (re)discover our warrior spirit.
I’m not on here to give an answer to every vet issue, but I am saying that we need to look at this extrinsically and see what the root cause of some of this shit it. Vets need purpose, and for most of us it’s going to be sitting down and talking to ourselves. Asking ourselves questions like “I am living up to my potential?”, “As a human being, what the hell is my purpose?”, and “What the hell is next and how do I want to get there?”.
We need to gather and meet up. We need vets to talk to vets. Because this shouldn’t be labeled as veterans issues, this is all of Americas issue here. We are all affected by this. There are hundreds of thousands of veterans in America. Fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, all human beings. As the quote kinda goes “you can tell a lot about a nation based on how they treat their war veterans”…so what the fuck does that say about us?
To be continued…