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trip286 03-12-2014 05:29 PM

When the music stops
I was going to post this in the LE/MIL forum. Then the mancave because it deserves a larger audience. Then the bunker, because I think it needs an even larger audience. Then I said hell with it, I'll share it with everyone.

It's an article I found. It's copied and pasted, so if some of the profanity slips through the cracks, oh well, spank me again. I'll follow up with a link.

trip286 03-12-2014 05:31 PM

“I want to be dead with my friends….where the iron sharpens the iron.”-Every Time I Die

I am bearing witness to the end of an era. I have the distinct blessing, or the agonizing misfortune of having front-row seats to the death throes of a creature that has defined a generation. This creature is what my buddies and I refer to as the Global War On Terror (GWOT for short). 13 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and two presidents later, those of us who contributed our very being to this endeavor are left thinking, “What now?”

On May 23, 2013, POTUS Obama declared the GWOT “over.” Just like that. Done. Finished. It felt to my brothers and I, that our purpose in life had just disappeared.

Of course, we knew that there are still things going on in the shadows of foreign policy. Smelly, bearded extremists are still getting shot in the face in far-off lands. But, to the majority of us who had spent our entire adult lives finding, fixing, and finishing, our jobs were apparently over. We had sacrificed marriages, seeing our kids grow up, watching our parents grow old, witnessed our brothers deaths, and lost limbs for a conflict that we didn’t start, but were damn sure going to finish. We had been involved so long that it became us. Sure, some of us got out and made strides in veteran’s advocacy, tactical efficiency and efficacy, community growth, technological advancements, and improving quality of life for the layperson at home (i.e. the Perfect Push-Up). This writing is not for them. This is talking about the guy that has cut his teeth and dodged bullets since he was 18 years old and now has to try to find a place in this world….a world without the GWOT.

A friend of mine once said, “PTSD is the realization that you will never be this cool again.” He was referring to being on deployment, toting guns, and generally being a hard-ass. He was kind of correct. Once you wash the dirt and grit off and put on a clean shirt, you’re out of place in the civilian world. No one gets your jokes. Everyone wonders why you’re so insensitive to the plights of celebrities and pro-ball players. People view you as a victim, someone that somehow got duped into joining the military and marching off to fight, only to come home with less friends and more nightmares. You go to work at your job thinking that whatever you do today will never matter as much as what you did over there. You will never work as hard in this cubicle, office, ambulance, bank, or courthouse, as you did in the killing fields. You have this little voice in the back of your head whispering, “You will never feel more alive. It doesn’t get any better than those days.” Sadly enough, a lot of veterans are heeding this voice and going home and killing themselves, either with a gun or with heroin and Hennessy. The suicide rate is an epidemic and the VA is a joke. Personally, in my non-solicited and ultimately meaningless opinion, I think this is largely due to the fact that a guy went over and put in work, to come home to a government that doesn’t support him, and a public that doesn’t appreciate him. We live in a society that puts more effort and emphasis on Justin-****ing-Bieber than their neighbor who lost his legs in Ramadi. It doesn’t feel good when the media is more ablaze in memoriam for a celebrity that OD’d on the ****ter than Chris Kyle or more recently, Aaron Torian. It stings a little when the Commander in Chief makes more phone calls to his travel agent and “brave” basketball players than to the widows of the fallen. Bottom line: empty thanks and the obvious look of pity don’t do much for a guy that feels lost at home without his brothers or people that REALLY care. But, I digress.

The last troops in Iraq left with little fanfare. Under the guidance of an apologetic administration, they left that country with their ears back and their tails tucked. To the guys at home at the time, they could no longer point at the TV and say, “I was there.” Afghanistan seems to be heading the same direction. One big-ass circle. The Taliban are seizing ground again, poised to take power, and the troops (from MY vantage point) are just hanging out in the FOB’s eating Burger King and biding their time, and why shouldn’t they? Our strategy in this country has been telescoped so far that the enemy knows when we’re going home! Why go out and put foot to ass when the shot-clock is down to the final second? No one is truly invested in the war. Again, my opinion. Hell, a staggering amount of troops here were 9-10 years old on 9/11/2001! It wasn’t even a “real” event to them, but rather an occurrence, handed down to them by parents and teachers and history books. They have no clue why they’re here. The commands don’t seem to give a **** about more than eye pro and glow belts. Karaoke night is priority numero uno. The ROE’s have been so neutered that they’ve become a detriment to the troops. Everyone is concerned about packing their **** and shipping out.

But, there are those of us that still feel we have more to contribute. There are those of us who aren’t meant for a desk. There are men in this world still willing to go out there, for whatever reason, and skull-**** the enemies of the USA. But, is there really a place for us any more?

Some of us went back into the military, but are hitting the roadblocks associated with a large military drawdown. Some of us tried serving our communities, I myself became a paramedic, but grew bored rather quickly. Some of us went the PMC route, which is perfect to an extent. I get to tote guns and hang with the boys and count racks of cash. But, that world is dying down as well. My question is: “where do we go when the world no longer needs us?” What happens when the reason you got out of bed every morning for 12-13 years, isn’t there anymore? Especially when you know that the whole game was mishandled. It’s hard as **** sitting back and watching the talking heads talk about the “mistakes” and the “futility” and asking “was it worth it?” when you have had to bury more friends than most people know their entire lives. It’s very sobering to think to yourself, “MY war is over.”

Maybe it’s the way it goes. Maybe, those of us that still have more to give, are destined to sit on porch in a rocking chair or a bar stool at the VFW and talk about the “good ol’ days” with our buddies. My fear is maybe we’re going the way of Gran Tourino. As much of a badass as Clint Eastwood’s character was in that movie, he was still a sad, bitter, old man. Another movie reference is the grocery store scene in “The Hurt Locker” (regardless of the movie, that scene was powerful).

My other fear is that the world will bury what we’ve done. The history books will refer to our endeavors the way I learned about Vietnam. The story I was told by my teachers was wildly different than the stories my father shared. His wasn’t stories of mistakes, his was a story of brotherhood and sacrifice. Thus is the divide in my generation. My brothers and I tell stories with passion and pride, and my non-serving peers think: what a waste of a life. It may have been a waste, time will tell, but it was a glorious waste. I “wasted” my life seeing the very best of a generation of MEN stand up and go do what was asked of them. I “wasted” my life in third-world ****-holes, knowing my brothers cared more about me than the girl at home. I “wasted” my life watching guys risk and give their lives for one another. I would not ask to “waste” my life any other way. I will also do it as long as I can. My only question, echoed by thousands of GWOT vets is: “what now?”


trip286 03-12-2014 05:31 PM

BigB 03-12-2014 08:24 PM

Excellent thought provoking read! Thank you for sharing!

c3shooter 03-12-2014 09:13 PM

1 Attachment(s)
You have no idea how much I understand that.

Attachment 139014

So does the older gent down the road. He made that long walk back from the Chosin Reservoir.

trip286 03-13-2014 01:05 AM


Originally Posted by c3shooter (Post 1528849)
You have no idea how much I understand that.

Attachment 139014

So does the older gent down the road. He made that long walk back from the Chosin Reservoir.

Could be even worse for some of you guys. Seeing the next generation fight their very own war. And knowing some of them will never come home.

c3shooter 03-14-2014 12:59 PM

Trip- to resurrect an old saying- that in 3 words contains total and complete frustration-

"Don't mean nothing"

and we are not the first to realize the difference between military and civilian- Tommy Atkins knew it.

rn-cindy 03-14-2014 01:56 PM

Thank You..........

Vincine 03-14-2014 02:37 PM


Originally Posted by trip286 (Post 1528988)
Could be even worse for some of you guys. Seeing the next generation fight their very own war. And knowing some of them will never come home.

I wish it were possible for more people, especially the young, to really appreciate history, both recent & ancient, without first having some ‘life experience’ of their own. Until most do, the past remains an abstraction and is given no more weight than abstract ideologies. By the time most have had personal experiences from which to judge current events and issues, more than a little damage has already been done. It's not a matter of repeating history because the past is unknown, it’s a matter of repeating history because the past isn’t felt.

Good decisions don’t necessarily come from knowledge, they come from experience. Unfortunately experience comes from bad decisions.


TLuker 03-17-2014 01:48 AM

That article has bothered me for a few days now, but what bothered me about it was more than just the sympathy I feel for those having to deal with such issues. What bothers me most is that our society has become so messed up that many truly feel lost in our society and at home in war.

I tried helping one young Marine that I worked with a few years ago. He had served in Iraq and gotten out but he was lost on his own. He developed some serious problems including drugs and hanging out with some really bad people. In his own words he was lost without the Corp. I also know the family of another young Marine that took his own life. His family will never get over that and the first young man I tried to help was going in that direction fast. I haven't heard from him in sometime now. I pray that he his doing better but in my heart I doubt that he his.

I've met quite a few young solders and marines since that are struggling with the transition back to civilian life, but I'm seeing many many young people struggle right now and not just those that served. Many that served are having an even more difficult time for different reasons but there are so many in that generation that are lost. Personally I think a large part of the problem is that our popular culture has become so distorted and twisted that young people can't help but to be lost once they begin to experience reality. I also think those that served are having a more difficult time because they have experienced reality and the culture they are coming back to is so far removed from reality that they no longer recognize it or feel any connection to it?

It is just a sad commentary about what our culture has become when so many returning from war are lost, and I would guess it has been that way since Korea and certainly since Vietnam. I have no doubt that all that fought in wars have experienced it to some degree but I don't think most in history were as lost after returning home as those from Korea to today? :(

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