Uncategorized

Civilianized – A Dark Humored Post-War Memoir, by Massachusetts Veteran Michael Anthony

mary roach memoir blurb

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

Quote, Uncategorized

Thought For the Day – Chuck Palahniuk (PTSD and scars)

This quote summarizes any veteran with PTSD. It’s easier to remember your friend who died in a mortar attack–the smell of their blood, the feeling of them in your arms, their look on their faces, the sound of their dying breaths–than it is for a person to remember their high school sweetheart, or a good time camping with friends.

This is one of the reasons I think veterans suffer from PTSD. Because it’s easier to remember the bad. There are no scars for  happiness, but there are scars from mortar attacks and firefights–physically and mentally.

Standard, Uncategorized

Veteran’s Day: Are you the type of person that’s worth dying for?

Here’s the thing about Veteran’s Day … and what has me so bitter today…

There’s an implicit agreement between veterans and civilians: As Veterans our job is to fight and die for our country and countrymen; as civilians, your job to make sure that our country is worth fighting and dying for. And honestly, as of late, when I read the news and listen to the stories that are going on, I begin to feel as though you civilians aren’t holding up your end of the deal.

And now, here we are on Veteran’s Day…

Veteran’s day is a day to thank veteran’s for their sacrifices—both current, and veterans throughout the ages. It’s a day to thank those brave men and women who were willing to fight and die for the sake of their country, and their countrymen. From those first Americans fighting to free us from British oppression, to freeing the slaves, to liberating the concentration camp, to modern day soldiers…

But here’s the thing, this veteran’s day (and for the rest of this year, really) instead of wasting our time and money buying “Support our Troops,” bumper stickers, and shaking hands with veterans, or Facebooking a message to a friend-of-a-friend who served overseas; instead, I have a different idea…

Instead of thanking a soldier for being willing to fight and die on our behalf; instead of taking a moment of silence for all those who have given their life in the line of duty; how about we take that same amount of time  and instead focus on being the type of people, and the type of country, that’s actually worth dying for.

Those brave men and women who sign that dotted line are the bravest, and toughest, that our country has to offer—this means that, as always, it’s the toughest who protect the weakest. And that’s fine, we all have our parts to play, not everyone’s made to be a solider and a warrior.

But we need to keep in mind that when those men and women go overseas to fight and die, they’re doing it for US! And those who’ve never fought need to stop and ask themselves, “Am I worth it?” “Am I worth dying for?” And is our “Country worth dying for?” And if the answer is “No.” Then it’s up to us to walk down to that recruiting station and sign ourselves up, or it’s up to else to make sure our country is the type of place that’s still worth dying for. Because I’ll tell you, I’m tired of seeing that my brothers in arms are fighting for people who care more about the Kardashians than the battle of Kandahar, people who care more about the latest iPhone than the struggles that veterans faces after the war, people who’ve sent our economy into a recession, people who’ve shut the government down, and people who refuse to step up and actually make a different.

I don’t think it’s been done deliberately, but I do believe that you guys need to be reminded about the deal: we’ve held up our end, now it’s time for you guys to step up and hold up yours.

Quote

Thought For the Day – Alden Nowlan (Growing up in War)

This quote, by the poet Alden Nowlan, really hit me at the right moment in my life. Recently, I had been reminiscing about my time in the military, particularly Iraq, and I felt this quote captured something that I had been trying to piece together for many years…

When I had first deployed to Iraq, I was only twenty years old. At that point, I had gone to college for a year, had been through army basic training and AIT–which included dozens of intense surgeries, and even delivering a baby or two–but even with all that, I went to war as an adolescent.

All of my commanders and NCOIC’s were older than me, by many years, and as I watched several of them struggle through being leaders and commanding troops, I constantly found myself pointing out their imperfections. I couldn’t believe, to put it bluntly, how shitty some of these people seemed–as leaders, soldiers, and just, humans in general.

Now, granted, some of my hate and frustration with my leadership was warranted–one sergeant major, two first sergeants, and a company commander were relieved of duty after all (and even all that was a bit of an understatement)–but it’s only now, years later, that I realized I had been viewing much of my leadership through adolescent eyes that expected “adults,” and older people to have all the answers.

I know now that “adults” don’t have all the answers, and never did, and that I was foolish to expect them to in the first place.

As I’ve traversed through the  ages that many of my leaders were in Iraq, I find it chilling to think of the responsibility that many of my fellow soldiers had at such young ages. One leader, for example, was only twenty-seven when he was in charge of the section I worked in. To me, at that time, twenty-seven might as well have been forty, but as I’ve turned twenty seven myself–and then left it behind–I shuttered to think of having such responsibility when still at such a young age.

Now, at the age of thirty, I have my own responsibilities, full-time employment, a wife and daughter to look after, a mortgage to pay, etc. But my responsibilities now are nothing compared to the responsibilities that a leader faces during war–and many of them were younger than I am now.

Perhaps there’s no perfect age to be a leader at war; after all, age doesn’t always equal intelligence, or ethics…

But, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I now realize how foolish it was of me to expect these “adults,” to be perfect people, perfect soldiers, and perfect leaders. Some of them were shitty leaders, don’t get me wrong, but I realize now that many of them were just doing the best they could in a shitty situation. Maybe it’s taken all these years for me to reach adulthood and forgive them (forgive, but not forget, many of those bastards are beyond any grace). But I guess that’s where I’m at and I think this quote by Nowlan summarized it up nicely.

 

 

Blogishness, Quote

Thought For The Day – Friedrich Nietzsche on War

“War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your sympathy, but your bravery hath hitherto saved the victims.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

This is a controversial Nietzsche quote–one of many–but it’s one that I actually agree with.

Too often a tragedy strikes and people give their “thoughts and prayers,” to the victims, but typically, it ends there. Sure, they’ll tweet and post caring messages on Facebook, but in all honesty, does that do anything? Anything at all for the victims? It’s sad to think about, but most people, in the face of tragedy, actually do nothing. They maybe, at most, donate a few dollars to charity and then go living their lives.

Charity’s then take the money, pay their staff first, host a couple of expensive charity events–remember the sad state of affairs of Wounded Warrior Project (which was once a great organization)–and then after all that, only a little bit of the money donated to charity will actually go to the victims.

In the face of tragedy, it’s the brave and courageous, not the charitable, that make all the difference.

It’s fine to give “thoughts and prayers,” but please be aware that, sometimes, the answer to those prayers is God using the fist of the brave.

When WWII happened, America just didn’t sit by and give our “thoughts and prayers,” we gave the blood of our bravest.

I am not a war-hawk by any means, but when I see the tragedies caused by terrorists at home and abroad, and then I see social media filled with “thoughts and prayers,” but no one taking action, it’s another tragedy.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Blogishness, Quote

4 Friedrich Nietzsche Quotes on War

Here are a few Friedrich Nietzsche quotes on war from his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

“War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your sympathy, but your bravery hath hitherto saved the victims.”

“If one would have a friend, then must one also be willing to wage war for him: and in order to wage war, one must be capable of being an enemy.”

“That there is struggle and inequality even in beauty, and war for power and supremacy: that doth he here teach us in the plainest parable.”

 “No one ever spake such warlike words: ‘What is good? To be brave is good. It is the good war that halloweth every cause.'”

Keep in mind that much of what Nietzsche spoke of was in reference to internal wars, as much as external ones.

 

Comedy, military, ptsd, Uncategorized, Writing

Funny War Memoirs: The Importance of Humor When Telling A True War Story

War stories continue to capture the attention of today’s generation. Stories of how veterans survived each encounter they had with the enemy, how they managed to live with the limited supplies that they had, how they met and made friends not only with their comrades but also with the locals of the place where they were deployed, and how they learned more about appreciating life through their near-death experiences continue to become fascinating windows to the past and current events.

[pullquote]”Humor is a powerful and indispensable tool in keeping one’s sanity intact in the face of death and destruction.”[/pullquote]Your grandparents or any relative who had been deployed to war may have told their war story differently. You may notice that every time your grandfather tells his story, it would be filled with details of the places he has been in, the people he has encountered, the sensations of terror and waiting for death which would scare the living hell out of anyone. Sometimes, your veteran relative would focus on his achievements in the war, such as how he managed to lead his troop into enemy camp and capture it, how he killed men, and how he was considered a hero.

It may be an attempt to recall what had happened, it may have been altered to favor the storyteller’s image as a war hero, but the common theme surrounding the telling of war stories is the use of humor — its use of jokes, of anecdotes, of words which are meant to make people feel the impact of the events in the story.

Why is humor used by war veterans to tell their war stories? Being that what they are telling is their experiences in gruesome battle, which may have been traumatizing to thousands and even millions of people at the time, what would be the reason why humor would be needed to retell these tales?

War is painful. Not only does it injure people physically, imprinting lifelong marks on the skin of soldiers and civilians, but it is also emotionally and mentally stressful to the mind and spirit. Many have gone mad just by serving in the war for a few months. Civilians who have witnessed the horrors of war experienced being in the middle of conflict and being unable to do anything about it, except just to hope that they are not killed with the guns and the bombs that are going off everywhere. If explosives are not going off, people think of how to survive with limited supplies. Of course, soldiers are usually provided with food and shelter by their government in order to survive, but in the end they would still need to use their own creativity and wits just to make it through every day without starving, going mad, or becoming thoroughly exhausted.

Being in a war is one of the most painful experiences that a person can go through in life. It changes you and makes you more aware of the horrors that lie in the world. If people continue to wallow in the pain and suffering that comes with being in a war, it would be difficult to find the courage to get up from bed every day without your conscience being bothered.

Humor is a survival tool in this instance. It helps war veterans deal with the horrors and the stresses of war, and helps make it easy to retell their war experiences. Humor acts as a pain reliever which helps veterans and civilians (who can also be considered as war veterans in their own right) keep positivity in their lives, thus encouraging them to continue living their life to the fullest.

Humor is a powerful and indispensable tool in keeping one’s sanity intact in the face of death and destruction.

Just because people have gone to war and experienced it firsthand does not mean that simply being happy is something that they should be guilty about. There is no need for anyone to wallow in the miseries of war and destruction. Even in the darkest moments, people can still laugh, see the bright side of life, continue to hope, and appreciate what life has to offer.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

ptsd, Self Improvement / Healthy Living

How War Can Lead To A Nihilistic Outlook On Life

nihilism and ptsd

[pullquote]”In fact, most civilians know war through a superficial lens—through what the media shows them and what other people relay to them about their experiences.”.[/pullquote]People who have seen how dark life can become eventually adapt a defensive view of their life. They reject what makes life, well, life—how people live and act against the forces of nature. When someone rejects the religious and moral principles that encompass life, they undertake what’s known as nihilism.

Nihilism is best known as the rejection of all moral and religious principles, in the impression that life is ultimately meaningless. The phrase originates from the Latin term, nihil, which translates to nothing. Nihilism is also used to promote the idea that life, or the world itself, has no true morals.

This philosophical position is famously associated with the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. However, his position on the philosophical belief is sometimes misunderstood. Nietzsche was one of the first philosophers to extensively study the philosophy; he also extensively discussed criticism of the belief as a whole.

He notably argued that ‘nihilism can become a false belief, leading individuals to discard any hope of meaning within the world and create some significant compensatory alternative.’ He also argued that ‘Nihilism results from valuing higher beings who don’t value earthly things.’ Lastly, Nietzsche also suggested the idea that ‘Idealism, after being rejected by the believer, could potentially lead to Nihilism.’

Why War Makes Soldiers Develop Nihilism

Popular culture tells us that war changes people. This sentiment is reflected in various quotes, depicted in countless films and recounted in just as many songs. In fact, most civilians know war through a superficial lens—through what the media shows them and what other people relay to them about their experiences.[pullquote]”It’s possible for people to overcome a nihilistic mindset, especially if they developed the mindset as a result of war.”[/pullquote]

There’s an underlying aspect to how war changes people that others don’t quite understand. War’s effect leave a lasting effect on the enlisted people who participated and the civilian people thrown into the middle. Soldiers, in particular, often end up bearing a lot of physical and emotional trauma that they don’t understand how to cope with. Due to this, many harbor feelings of resentment, fear and other negative feelings.

Some soldiers lash out in self destructive ways. This type of coping is responsible for tragically claiming the lives of soldiers each year. Fortunately, mental health organizations have made movements to help soldiers cope with their mental trauma from war.

However, some survivors choose alternative ways to cope with their trauma. Some undertake a new religion, while others adapt a new philosophy (such as Stoicism) to help themselves navigate life once more. Soldiers who cope with depression and other symptoms from post traumatic stress disorder may undertake a mindset that changes how they view life.

Emotional nihilism develops after someone has experienced significant mental and, sometimes, physical trauma. It doesn’t develop in most people who go through significant mental trauma, but soldiers of war tend to be among the most frequent suffers of this phenomenon. Soldiers who aren’t adequately prepared to cope with such situations tend to lose hope and then develop doubts about their purpose in life.

Overcoming Emotional Nihilism

It’s possible for people to overcome a nihilistic mindset, especially if they developed the mindset as a result of war. A nihilistic state of mind may be damaging to people who return home after being enlisted.

This type of mindset can completely change how a soldier sees life during their enlistment, while they’re waiting to be deployed once more and even after they’ve officially retired from service. Of course, today’s mental health societies do make sure soldiers receive adequate mental health care following their enlistment in the military. But truly breaking out of a nihilistic mindset requires the efforts of the affected person.

Some soldiers of war don’t break out of the mindset, after remaining with such thought processes for years. This mindset can make a person exhibit mental exhaustion or, in other words, develop a tendency to emotionally check out. They become disengaged from all aspects of their life, because they feel like doing anything doesn’t matter. While a nihilistic person can normally function, the things they do tend to only happen out of duty and not a real sense of fulfillment.

Soldiers who have become nihilistic after returning home do have options to overcome that mindset. Learning how to accept what has happened to them plays a large role in accomplishing that. Interestingly enough, utilizing other philosophies – such as Stoicism – may help a soldier regain their sense of self and some enthusiasm for life.

Overcoming emotional nihilism does take effort. However, a returning soldier of war can start making large steps toward recovery by accepting that whatever happens around them, no matter when it happens, occurred by means out of their control. That familiar theme, originating from Stoicism, can help a soldier accept their experiences and learn how to cope better after war.

Once people overcome nihilism, according to Nietzsche, a society can then foster a true foundation to thrive.

Picture: Flickr/brett jordan

Quote

Thought For the Day – Desiderius Erasmus (the lens of war)

We all view the world through different lenses; and when viewing the idea/concept/realities of war, there are no greater differences in lenses then those have been through it and those who haven’t. Not to say that one is better or worse, simply that different lenses give people different views of war, and the world.

Best Of, Blogishness, ptsd, Uncategorized

What exactly is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Uncle Sam PTSD for Veterans

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or more commonly known as PTSD, is a type of debilitating medical condition that usually occurs to individuals who have undergone a very traumatic incident.

A traumatic event is something terrible that you’ve seen, heard, or experienced first-hand. This includes:

  • Exposure to war
  • Terrorist incident
  • Sexual assault
  • Physical abuse
  • Life-threatening accident
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes.

Most people experience symptoms such as extreme anxiety, difficulties in sleeping, or having nightmares after a traumatic incident. However, not everyone will have PTSD. You can only tell if you have the condition if the common symptoms get worse as time goes by.

How PTSD Develops

Everyone who has experienced a terrifying incident will have the common symptoms of anxiety during the early stages. However, only a handful will experience PTSD as time goes by. There is still no accurate answer as to why only some people develop PTSD in their lifetime.

There are several factors that might increase your chances of having this mental condition:

  • The intensity of the trauma
  • If you, or your loved ones, acquire major injuries after an accident or disaster
  • Your proximity to the event
  • The level of your reaction during the traumatic event
  • Your level of control during the event
  • The type and frequency of the support that you get after experiencing the traumatic event

 Common Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of this debilitating mental condition commonly starts after the person experiences any terrifying incident. However, it will take months or years before these symptoms intensify. In addition, they may also disappear and reappear over several years.

Below is a list of the most common symptoms of PTSD. If these symptoms persist for more than a month, or if they are disrupting your work and home life routine, there’s a big chance that you have PTSD.

  1. You keep re-experiencing/reliving the traumatic event

This usually occurs in the form of nightmares or horrifying memories. In some cases, you may also experience flashbacks. These are moments wherein you feel like you are going through the traumatic event again. Compared to a nightmare, flashbacks are usually more vivid.

  1. You veer away from events that remind you of the traumatic experience

As much as possible, you try to avoid any situations (or even other people) that might trigger any bad memories. In addition, you may even attempt to stop thinking about the traumatic event.

  1. Sudden negative changes on feelings and behavior

Because of the disturbing event that happened to you before, you may suddenly find yourself feeling a lot of guilt, fear, and shame. Another common symptom of PTSD is that your enthusiasms for activities that you loved doing in the past suddenly faded.

  1. You feel too jittery

This excessive feeling of alertness is more commonly known as hyper arousal. Even if the environment is guaranteed 100% safe, your body remains tense and alert. In addition, you are always on the lookout for danger. Another symptom of hyper arousal is difficulty in sleeping or concentrating.

Can children also experience PTSD?

Sadly, even the little ones can also have PTSD when faced with horrifying experiences. The symptoms may be similar with the ones mentioned above, but there might still be slight changes depending on their age. Once the kids grow older, they will experience PTSD symptoms that are similar to that of the adults.

These are just some of the common signs that your children are experiencing PTSD:

  1. Kids age 6 years and below tend to feel upset when their parents are not around. They also tend to have some trouble sleeping or going to the comfort room by themselves.
  2. Kids age 7 to 11 relive their traumatic experiences stories and drawings. They also experience nightmares. As they grow up, they tend to become more aggressive. Kids who experience PTSD show disinterest in going to school and even playing with their friends.
  3. Kids age 12 and up experience PTSD symptoms that are similar to adults. This includes withdrawal, substance abuse, running away from home, and anxiety.

Other problems experienced by people with PTSD

It is not just the anxiety attacks, nightmares, and flashbacks that PTSD victims have to endure. Other problems that they might experience include:

  • Extreme feelings of despair and shame
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse and alcoholism
  • Chronic pain
  • Problems with balancing work and home life
  • Problems in maintaining good relationships with people

Usually, these other problems can be fixed when the patient undergoes the standard PTSD treatment because they are somewhat related. Once you master the coping skills from PTSD therapy sessions, it will be easier for you to handle these problems.

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .