Why Veterans Miss War Part 2
This is the second part to a short series I am writing about concerning an overview of veterans issues. In the Part 1, I talked about reasons on why veterans have issues once they finish with their obligatory service in the US military. Of course every situation is different, but the going theme is that because “veterans miss the camaraderie” that they once associated with when they were immersed in the military. Im going to tell a little more about my story to show how thats true.
I joined the Marines when I was 17. I walked my ass into the recruiting station and signed my deal with the devil. I guess because I wanted the adventure and I wanted to do my part and fight in the war. USMC, U Signed the Mother fucking Contract. Originally I wanted to be a pilot, but all on my own I decided I wanted to carry a shotgun, regardless of whatever job it was. No joke, thats exactly what I said to the recruiter. So 03xx it was (open infantry contract). I graduated HS a year early, turned down some sweet college opportunities and scholarships and shipped out to boot camp 3 days after getting my diploma.
I was wild and stupid, and made a shit ton of mistakes. Life was pure hell at times, not just in the military, but also my personal life. I didn’t get along with my biological family, there was a shit ton of drama there. Combine that with other relationship drama, being a hard headed boot in the Infantry, constantly being left by everyone I knew, and dealing with a world of other shit, and it created a need inside me. I wont deny it. A need anyone who is desperate or gone through real drama in their life can understand. As much as I loved to be alone and work alone, I missed people and love. Not knowingly at the time, but the Marine Corps filed that gap.
Being forced to sink or swim developed qualities inside me that I never knew at the time. I quite literally developed character traits “under fire” that were frequently learned the hard way. Either by getting my teeth kicked in, failing miserably, or sadly enough, I let people down in the worst ways. I had no choice but to grow. A pair of big brass balls grew between my legs, I learned how to survive and problem solve under the most extreme conditions and I learned people. I realized that having an extrinsic view on life helped give a perspective and teach things few others could understand.
Being in the military teaches a lot, but being in combat amplifies the lessons 100 fold. Where I was at in Afghanistan was really bad, so the lessons were hard learned by all of us. There was so many flaring emotions and so many wounds tore into the hearts and souls of those around me. Everyone deals with death, but the front line troop is molded by it, shaped by it and forged by the hottest of fires. We, combat vets always try to tell our stories for whatever reasons, but the pain and feelings can never truly be understood unless its shared by a brother who went through it with you. Frat guys will talk about brotherhood, thats all a facade. What drinking together going through the same midterms? Sports fans will unite, but its nothing special. Room mates, “besties”, bf/ gf. Even the tightest families gathered a table for Christmas dinner don’t measure up to the brotherhood developed when you are in the military. Let me prove it.
Imagine you and the shaved headed dude next you in recruiting office both joined the military as nervous young 18 year olds. You live and eat together everyday and night for years. ferociously train together, learn to fight together. Laugh together, cry together, drink together, spend holidays away from families together. Spend holidays with each other families, wives, moms, siblings. Count on each other and support each other through everything. Divorce, marriage, new babies, the best of times and the worst times imaginable. Never a moment alone. You learn from your seniors and train the juniors. The most honorable of men, and you train your ‘young brothers” to be better than you. You guys deploy together, patrol together, get shot at for the first time together. When the day is done you split a plate of nasty chow, because that guy is your rock. You save each other lives through things that make war movies look easy. You wouldn’t just DO anything for this guy, you HAVE done everything for him. And then…in an instant, he’s are taken from you. Right there before your eyes, bleeding to death in your arms. All efforts to save your best friend are useless. The stain never to leave your clothes or your heart. Its shitty writing this, because I know the feeling.
So you tell me if thats not the definition of love and brotherhood, what the fuck is?
Let me relate this to the issue of this article. You develop a brotherhood and a love for those guys so strong, yet when you get out of the military its all gone. That gap in your life was filled with something so pure and then bore out by incredible sadness and pain. So how the hell are we still trying to figure out the root cause of some of these veterans issues? Im far from an psychiatrist or psychologist, but holy shit! You develop camaraderie like that, go through experiences like that, and then rip it all away once you get out of the military? One day you have a family and purpose and drive and then the next, boom! You have to deal with mediocre civilian drama with no way of processing the things you went through. And no brothers to help with it. Well no shit guys are going to have problems dealing with that, and they have every fucking right to! Of course veterans are going to have issues with society once they get thrown back into it. Vets are going to have difficulties functioning in “normal society” because normal society can’t relate. And in a lot of cases, doesn’t care. And thats not anyones fault, thats just a fact of life. Think how veterans have learned things, think about what all they have gone through. We address the staggering suicide rate and homeless rate plaguing our veterans, and there are so many great organizations out there. But its like having all the building blocks, with no method of delivery for truly hammering issues out.
Do you see it now? Vets don’t miss war, vets don’t miss all the superficial crap outsiders think they do. VETS MISS AND NEED EACH OTHER!!! Stamp that shit in the newspaper, shout it from the roof tops, spread the word. You want to really start hammering out veterans issues, GET VETS TOGETHER!!!! Rebuild and maintain that camaraderie. And the next article we are going to discuss how…