But put your thought a little more eloquently that I would have.
The first paragraph that you wrote sounds exactly like me. Im proud of my service in many ways but, at the same time, Im appalled and ashamed of it. Trying to describe what my military service means to me is a very complicated and muddy thing.
Watching the events unfold in the Middle East right now on TV is a hard thing. I know that Im far removed from the seemingly looming war over there, but at the same time Im envious that I will be sitting this one out. Im happy that Im out of the military and that everything is in the past, but I feel a yearning to return to war. The things that upset me and appall me the most are exactly the things that I miss. No, maybe not the feelings of losing a friend or even the feeling of seeing a guy from the opposite side of my sights fall, but I miss the feelings of excitement surrounding the danger and the feeling of a rifle in my hand.
I think that this has a lot to do with my PTSD and a sense of worthlessness that I (and probably other veterans) feel. When I was in the Army I was at my prime. I was in the best shape of my life and I was able to accomplish anything I wanted to. I returned home, got out of the Army and attempted to start my civilian life and I find that things like holding a job, driving in traffic, ordering food at a fast food restaurant, and even remembering to bathe and change my clothes every day van be a struggle.
I never look down or think less of anyone who says that they tried to avoid fighting in a war. Having been there and experienced war first hand, I know that it is an experience that I wouldnt wish on anyone.
In short, the insight that combat veterans provide to war is a valuable one, but that was already mentioned above.
Pinboy3niner, thanks for your post. I enjoy reading and listening to what you have to say. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that you were also an Infantry Platoon Leader like me (albeit in different wars). I wish that someone like you would have talked to me before I set out on my military career. The fact that you were a volunteer (like me) for the profession also speaks a lot to me. The feelings that you write about and what you say really does a lot for validating my own feelings and thoughts. Again, thanks.
most veterans, like most people in the military, aren't in direct combat functions in the recent wars. It's one thing to be involved in a war from miles away from the actual action, but it is totally different to be within small-arms range or closer to a person that you are being asked to kill. It's totally different when you actually hear the sounds and see the sights of a person that you shot dying when you find their mangled bodies after the firefight is over and go search the area for dead and wounded. It's easy to feel proud for what you did in the war when you don't have any real connection to what you did.
I've never seen or met a combat veteran who supported or liked war. As a result, the most vehement anti-war folks tend to be combat veterans. They've been there, they've done it, and they completely understand how messed up war is.
I post a lot on a conservative forum and usually my post lean hard towards the anti-war direction. I get called out for being unpatriotic and, it is often said to me that I should be like most "honorable" combat vets and keep my mouth shut about what I did in the war. To me, that is dangerous and is misleading. It gives people the false impression that I did something glorious or some great patriotic service to our country by doing what I did in Iraq. The veterans who have never experienced combat first hand (and who never developed a distaste for it) stand up and waive the flag like they are some sort of hero and proclaim how glorious war and military intervention is. The media and our government officials focus on terms like "surgical strike" to mislead the public into thinking that nobody is unnecessarily killed in combat. Our government bans the media coverage of caskets returning from the war and images of war mangled bodies being thrown into the spotlight on the news.
It's easy to believe that war is a glorious and patriotic function when all you see are impressive images of military strength, shiny uniforms, and high-tech equipment. The only images of the Iraqis that you see are those of smiling and cheering children and harmless looking adults. The American public doesn't see the mangled children and heartbroken parents that this war produces.
Again, I've never seen or met a combat veteran who supported or liked war. Those who have actually been there and experienced it want to be the furthest they can be away from it.
I hate being thanked for my service when anyone finds out that I'm a veteran. If people knew what I did, I doubt they'd be thanking me for anything.
My wife and kids did something that really upset me yesterday (veterans day). My wife meant well, but she had my oldest daughter (who is 4) come over to me and say "happy veterans day, daddy". I have a lot of mixed feelings about the war and what I want my kids to know. Actually, I don't think they are mixed at all. I don't want them to know a thing about it. I would prefer that they never knew I was in the Army I and I don't want them to make the connection that I was ever in a place where I shot and killed anyone. I don't want to have to explain any of that to my kids and I don't want to hear their questions about why I did what I did. It wasn't justified and the people of Iraq weren't a threat to us. I don't want them to think that I was some sort of a murdering machine or a monster and I don't want their perception of me as a kind and loving person spoiled by what I was a part of in the past. Fortunately, at age 4, my daughter has no concept of what war is or that someone could be capable of killing another person. I'm not ready for that one and I have no idea how to deal with it when she figures it out.
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