With the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion, I thought it would be worth sharing the article below. It’s written by an Army vet who took part in the hostilities, and he talks a lot about how painful the memories were in the beginning.
Things were the same for me. Obviously as my long-time readers know, we lost a man in training, and I still get angry about that sometimes. And for a long time, I had this constant feeling of betrayal that almost no one knew about the action my platoon took part in over in little ole’ Albania.
So for months and months — really years — after my discharge, every time it’d rain I would get depressed and imagine my brothers out in the rain, sitting in the mud, training for war. If it was 90 or a 100 degrees, same thing. I’d get down while I sat in an air conditioned college classroom or work environment. I’d feel guilty I wasn’t wearing a flak jacket and nearly a hundred pounds of gear. And I’d see all these Americans who had no clue and who took it all for granted, and I’d just get pissed off and want to hurt someone. (My guilt was so bad that I actually rejoined, serving two years in the Reserves, every minute of which was pure hell and only made me madder that I was having to deal with such brutal conditions again.)
And I’d see politicians send men just like me off to war with hardly a care and I’d get so angry that I could barely control myself. I’d argue and yell at friends, who probably thought I was unstable. (Note: I was.) I’d imagine people were following me and spying on me. My paranoia grew and my wife threatened to leave me when I started checking my house for cameras.
The military — at least doing time in the Marine Corps infantry — messes you up. You don’t leave it the same.
But after all these years, I’ve finally come to some peace with it all. And this Army vet perfectly describes how it really is in The New York Times article below, so if you want to better understand that veteran you know who seems distant and cold, give this a read. Here’s the link to the article: The End of War Stories.
Just like the author of the article, I no longer want to talk about what I did and how life in the Corps was/is. It’s a painful batch of memories to bring up, and I can only imagine how much worse than pain is for the vets who did time in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Please love our veterans and check on them, even if they push you away. They’re dealing with issues you can’t possibly begin to understand. And whether they’ve gone to combat or not, they’ve paid the price of blood, sweat, and tears in the ledger of freedom that has given us such great peace and freedom and safety. Love them. Love them hard.
Stan R. Mitchell
Oak Ridge, Tenn.
P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give, a book I believe to be worth $10,000.
P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. I seriously couldn’t have done it with everyone’s support. Thanks to your help, Little Man, and the Dixon County War has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here)! And my second novel, Sold Out, has also done well, going as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here)! Thanks a million to my awesome friends, and if you’ve stumbled on my blog, you can learn more about both books here.