Late Guest Post — Happy Veteran’s Day!

Michael Anthony 1 Comment

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This is a guest post from Marc.  He was a medic in the Army for six years, until he had to leave because of an injury.  He wrote this note a few years ago on Veteran’s Day and wanted to share it.  I know it’s not currently Veteran’s Day, but who cares.  Vets are Vets every day.  Here’s his post:

“In honor of all of our nations veterans on this…the week of Veteran’s Day…I thought that I would share my own thoughts on the matter at hand…and that is, what it’s like to be a Veteran, and maybe shed some light on the complexity of the contrast of being here at home, and the other side…

People call us heros…like we saved 30 kids from a burning bus, and we wear a cape…I understand the mentality behind this depiction of young men and women gearing up to go do things that 98% of Americans won’t do, and the sacrifice’s that we make to do our jobs…I just don’t think any of us consider ourselves heros…hell, the majority of us feel as if we didn’t go do what we have done than we didn’t fulfill our contractual obligations…for some, that is just not acceptable…We have a job to do, that we were trained to do…and most of us trained as hard as we did to the standard of combat, not to the standard of being on home soil during peace time…From Basic Training on through AIT, our training is driven so that we can react in a combat situation…Not so that we can look good in our uniforms at the local Wal-Mart…

Life down range is different than life back home…I’m not just talking about the obvious differences like the landscape, the temprature, and the fact that we are surrounded every day by people who not only want to kill us, but want to distroy the American image in the process…I’m talking about our everyday life over there…our daily interactions with people…eating habbits, our excercise habbits, our sleeping patterns, our dress code, our state of mind…all different than it was back home….On the other side it seems as though things are just more simplistic…There are people who cook our food for us…people to cut our hair…a PX to buy necessities…a mail room…hell for most of us in the days, months, and years we were over there, we  didn’t even have to flush a toilet, and our biggest concern was whether or not we would have hot water for our shower that day…We spend a bunch of time trying to find the best way to communicate with the people we are working with…the barriers of language are a hurdle some can’t seem to overcome…complacency is an enemy…and soon breeds stupidity, so most leaders over there are just trying to find ways to keep their youngin’s from getting into trouble…and of course keep themselves out of trouble…This is an impossible task sometimes….

Some of us found ourselves in some very hairy situations…the kind of situations that will be the highlight of some Holywood director’s screen play some day…bullets flying, explosions, blood, and of course radio chatter…These situations are hard to forget…we try…but it doesn’t just go away…It has been said and written many times that the worst scares of war are the ones you can’t see…There is a truth to that, because you can’t put a bandage on the mind and make it all disappear…and for the most part time doesn’t help the situation out any either…actually time makes healing unabtainable….Everytime a well wisher shakes my hand and thanks me for serving my country, all I think to myself is…”If this guy only knew some of the shit I did…I doubt he would be thanking me”…but I take the gesture as a part of them saying thank you for doing something that most of us won’t do…and that seems more realistic to me, and that is how I justify to myself that it’s ok to get those thank yous…

There are so many stages of deployment…It sucks when you leave your family back home…It sucks that you share a housing area with people you normally wouldn’t live with….it sucks that every meal revolves around chicken…It sucks that when you have the runs, you have to shit in a porta-potty…It sucks when you wake up late and miss your workout, and you have to take a cold shower…it sucks you can’t do your own laundry…it sucks not getting mail…the holidays suck…the heat really fucking sucks…the critters suck…the sand sucks…internet connection sucks…AFN only shows a few football games and it’s never your team and that sucks…It sucks getting shot at…it sucks knowing you may have to shoot back…and yes it sucks when you have to come home….

Coming home is the hardest thing you can do as a troop…I know that sounds stupid, seeings how you just spent the better part of a year wishing you were back home…but your daily routine is set into place…you have a scence of accomplishment and a scence of abandonment at the same time…and believe it or not what you did while you were there is a small blip on the screen for a very large cause…and you just know that there is so much more to do…the cultivated relationships you formulated while you were there vanish in the matter of seconds…and your scense of drive just got the smack down layed on it by the reality of…oh shit…I have to go home and be normal…Not an easy task…

So… to all my brothers and sisters in arms…I say to you welcome home…I know how you feel…Happy Veterans Day my friends….

 

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About The Author
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony is a Massachusetts based writer and veteran of the U.S. Army. After his service in the Iraq War, he earned a BA in English Literature from Bridgewater State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. He currently spends his free time with his wife and daughter, and volunteering for veteran charities.

Comments 1

  1. Michael Anthony

    I just reread this post myself, and I think Marc really hit the nail on the head. Even the part about not flushing a toilet. It’s those little things that take you back. But Marc’s right, things are very different when coming home, and that’s why, sometimes, a lot of vets have problems. We get used to things one way, and then we come home and things are totally different. Part of the problem, too. Is that when we’re overseas we’re imagining how things are going to be when we come home, and our loved ones are back home imaging what things are going to be like when we come home. But, usually, neither of us get what we imagined. Sometimes that’s good, but sometimes it’s bad. All we can do is know this, and drive on?

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