A Veteran Reflects on Veterans Day

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November 17, 2013 by kittynh

Veteran’s Day was celebrated on social media, such as facebook and twitter, with the usual “Thanks for your service” postings.  My own husband is a veteran, and many of my friends and family have served.  I even posted on another site about the generations of my family that have served. There is a young veteran our family admires, and when I saw he had posted about his own personal experience, I asked if I could share it here.

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David is a 33 year old former Marine, with two tours in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. He deployed in 2003 and again in 2005. The incident he refers to took place during the battle of Al Qaim.

http://gawker.com/i-am-sorry-that-it-has-come-to-this-a-soldiers-last-534538357

“So here’s the thing: stories like these are part and parcel of going to war. This is why I am so vehemently against war in 99% of cases. It’s why I was against doing something in Syria. It’s why I’m against doing anything to Iran or North Korea.

There was a time that I believed war could be used to a good end, back when I was in Iraq. There was a single, pivotal moment that made me realize I had become part of something evil, and it was about an hour after an improvised bomb killed a bunch of people on an amtrac. The lucky ones died right away. The rest burned to death with a few thousand lbs of ammo and explosives. We coralled a bunch of villagers into a house and I stood “guard” over a bunch of terrified women and children while someone higher up the food chain beat the shit out of some men in another room for answers. Then we ransacked their village looking for contraband.

Was it right? Who was the bad guy: The Marines that terrified women and children, beating the men and destroying their sad, meager homes? Or the villagers that knew a bomb was there and didn’t say anything and let some guys die in one of the worst ways imaginable? Here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter. I had enough after that. I was sick to my stomach with what victory required. And I only tasted a slice. I can’t even imagine what the guy that wrote that note saw every day.

So what can we do? How do we fix it? I think the best thing to do is never to go in the first place. Not unless we’re actively being attacked. This preemptive war bullshit we’ve become so enamored of? Here’s the price. And when you get your inevitable injury, mental or physical, you’ve got, from my rather imprecise calculations, about a 50/50 chance of getting help. Real help.

So what can we do? How do we fix it? I think the best thing to do is never to go in the first place. Not unless we’re actively being attacked. This preemptive war bullshit we’ve become so enamored of? Here’s the price. And when you get your inevitable injury, mental or physical, you’ve got, from my rather imprecise calculations, about a 50/50 chance of getting help. Real help.

Good luck if your problem is mental, though. You want to know when they ask you if you’re having problems? About 48 hours before you get on that plane to go home. And if you red flag yourself, you can look forward to being on medical hold in Germany, or the East Coast. Maybe if you’re really lucky, Pendleton. But you’re not home with the family you’ve been thinking of every day for the past seven months. You’re not at your house, you’re in a shitty barracks built over 20 years ago.

So you answer “no” and say you’re fine, and get the hell out of that garbage pit, only to come home and find out that you can’t ever really go back, because you’ve changed inside and out. Then you watch the news and realize you were fed a bitter, bitter lie. That’s about the time your depression sets in. Then you try and get some help from that most venerated

of government institutions, the VA, after being told up and down in a previous life that you’re not alone and they’re there to help. And we all know how that story goes.

Personally, I think most of the people working at the VA belong in a shallow trench grave. Wounded Warrior project has done more, with less, than they ever have.

So again, the best option is not to ring that bell in the first place. Don’t go to war. Don’t call for military action unless the enemy is crossing the border. Not even when it seems like a good idea. Not unless you’re willing to go, right now, yourself. Don’t vote for these chickenhawk fucks that gamble so carelessly with the lives of their constituents.

Second option, now that the horses are out of the barn: Be genuine to the vets that you do know. Know what the signs of depression are and be ready to actually reach out. Kick in the doors of your representatives and demand to know why they aren’t kicking in doors at the VA. Don’t listen to their whining about cost. They’ve got money for missiles in Pakistan, they can pay to try help put back together the human beings that got wrecked under their watch. And this last part isn’t directed at anyone here, but spread the word: For the love of god, stop with the hero worship. I’m just a person. So was Pat Tillman. Chesty Puller, too. I can’t describe how uncomfortable it makes me to have people call attention to it. I don’t care, at all, about the gratitude of someone I don’t/barely know. And it’s real weird to deal with it in public. If people put half the effort into finding peaceful solutions and holding their representatives accountable that they did affixing yellow ribbons and throwing gaudy parades, I never would have had to write this enormous mess on a touchscreen.

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Marines Use Heavy Equipment

Marines Use Heavy Equipment (Photo credit: DVIDSHUB)

Thank you David for allowing me to share.  I’d like to add a few comments of my own.

While David was deployed, our family used to send him silly gifts.  Once we even sent pink flamingos.  After having met him, there was a sense in our hearts that we had rarely met such a true gentleman.  He is a good person.  He has that all too rare quality of empathy.

One story of his from his service stayed with me.  He found a litter of kittens in an abandoned building where the group he was with were going to spend the night.  He didn’t say anything, because he know what a group of Marines would do with kittens, treat them as they would kittens back home.  David knew the mother cat was probably waiting for things to settle down and would come back and get them.  He understood the survival of these cats depended on their staying feral.  This wasn’t the United States, the Marines would leave, and the kittens would not survive if he mentioned “hey look cute kittens!”  Indeed, sometime in the night, the mother cat came back for her young.  This may sound like an odd story to pick, but it’s one that stayed with me. David always is able to think beyond the moment, and think what is best for others, be they human or kitten.

Our country needs men like David.  He’s not anti military, but he does want people to know how truly hard service can be. The price we pay as a nation for a protracted war where we aren’t always seen as the good guys is a large one indeed.

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2 thoughts on “A Veteran Reflects on Veterans Day

  1. Eliza says:

    At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming yet again to read other news.

  2. Jeff Wagg says:

    This doesn’t match at all what the recruiter said. Hmm.

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