Chris Taylor: It's the way the whole thing works, people like Elias get wasted, people like Barnes just go on making up the rules any way they want. So what do we do? Sit in the middle and suck on it. We just don't add up to dry s**t, King.
King: Whoever said we did, man? All you got to do is make it out of here. It's all gravy, everyday the rest of your life, gravy.
I think the folks coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan can claim to have added up to quite a bit more, but that doesn't make it any easier to make sense of it all. Grim shows again why I am so honored to know him and to be associated with him here with this on "coming home". He has tackled more thorny and difficult topics fairly than anyone else I am aware of. This piece about "coming home" is something I would have every troop read on the plane leaving Kuwait, once the last piece of potential danger is averted and it's time to think about the land of the big PX. His previous piece "On the virtues of killing children" deserves the attention of anyone with an opinion about war.
He speaks directly to those coming back from our war zones, but also to everyone else who these folks carried the weight for. Everyone who serves in our military today either re-enlisted or enlisted since 9/11. That means that every one of them knew they were likely to serve fighting those wars in some capacity. The second everyone of those folks made that decision they were changed forever.
They became sheepdogs. Once you march to the sound of gunfire you are a different person and that matters. When you get back most people will have absolutely no idea what you feel like, where you have been, or what you have done. That is not a lick on you, if anything that is a flaw in their life experience. Is there a greater honor than to have served your country in wartime?
That said you still have to work out how that change is going to affect you and how you are going to live day to day. The most natural of human emotions id the desire to be part of a group. This is the crappiest planet I have ever lived on and you need allies, friends, and family just to make it through the day. But the people you see around you don't know, how could they? For most of them the biggest difficulty they face daily is whether they can go out for a beer without their wife "killing" them. That is a far cry from a reality where you can stop to give a kid some candy and both you and the kid get blown into your component molecules.
Grim used the metaphor of "getting back on the horse" and then of "sitting deep" and not allowing the gremlins in the front of your brain to mess up what the back part is doing. If you try to ride a horse downhill, with your fears affecting the horse's balance you will both fall.Returning to civilian society in America is just getting back on a horse and this is a big, sweet, apple and sugar cube-lovin' horse.
Nobody has a better claim to the tolerance of our society than returning war vets, so don't feel like the onus is on you to adjust to some magic "normal" Do you know any normal people? I sure don't and most of them have much less reason for being soup sandwiches. So as you contemplate your place in our society remember all the rest of them are trying to ride as well. You simply have the advantage of knowing that no matter what you are doing, it's safer and probably easier than what you were doing.
Our society loves to contemplate it's navel, and much of this is done by folks who oppose this war and even the idea that war is what gave them the leisure to gaze. So be it. We can't change that, but you can change how much the opinions of others color your self-image. Don't let the doubts that the left, the Dems and the media bombard us with, and which will sit in your front brain, knock you off stride.
F**k 'em, they are baby possums riding on the good will of others and we are better for carrying their weight. You will always know you have done something that sadly needs doing, but that too few have experienced or will understand. That is the lot of the sheepdog, and rather than bemoan the lack of love, understand that it's a title none can take from you and all owe a debt of gratitude for. So climb back up on that sweet old horse and ride. Don't overthink it, just sit deep and don't do anything stupid, or not too many stupid things. Wake up every day and be happy you woke up in the land of the free, and then stop worrying about the rest of it, like water off a duck's butt.
Some prior Blackfive PTSD Posts: