15 May 2009

More about Stress and War...

From the Soldier side: There are a few things that some people have said, since I've returned from Iraq, that do kind of annoy the heck out of me. But, so far I've never lost my cool. Why? Because of something I heard when we were out processing at Fort Screwus, WA.

By the time our tour of Iraq was over, the Army was finally starting to be a little more proactive in at least looking like they were trying to make an attempt at sending us home with all of our marbles in the bag. (Read that last sentence again to get my point.)

The Army required us to go through mandatory group therapy. At least that's what I called it. How did they do it? They had our entire battalion in an auditorium for hours. This was "required" so we all went. We sat there and listened to some good people tell us how not to be crazy. Some of these folks actually had some good points...some I don't even remember what they said. But the one person who talked to us who's words of wisdom stuck in my brain was a doctor.

This doctor had just medically retired from the Navy. He was a Navy SEAL who had been really messed up "jumping" in Afghanistan. He broke so many bones that they had to retire him out. So, he wasn't just a medical doctor, but he had been a SEAL. So, when he talked, I listened to what he had to say. In summary:

"Listen...you are all going to go back home and be a hero. You'll be a hero to your wife, husband, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, and friends. You'll be a hero to everybody until that first time you get angry and loose your temper and start yelling at your loved ones. Then you'll just be an asshole."

I've tried to never yell or loose my temper since then. Have I gotten pissed off? You bet. But, I won't feed the beast of anger. Why, because even if I have a totally good reason for getting mad at something...people will think: "Oh my God, he has PTSD from Iraq."

Nope. I have PTSD from stupid people., bad leaders, and people who keep asking me stupid questions like:
1.) How many people did you kill in Iraq?

2.) Do you have bad dreams or PTSD?

3.) Will you have to go back (to Iraq)?

4.) What was it like? How long were you there?


Anonymous said...

1. Your seal doctor nailed it.
2. Even if I had been fortunate enough to get that advice, wouldn't have listened.
3. Was home, probably, three hours before I'd burned my bridges.
4. A lot of us have to learn everything the hard way.
5. Hope someone links to your commentary. It's a major truth, well said. Might help someone who is a little smarter than I am.
V/R J West

CI-Roller Dude said...

J West,
Another thing I learned having also been a combat engineer for 12 years. If you burn a bridge, you can rebuild it...it just takes a good engineer, the material and a lot of work.