This month hasn’t been the best for me. I lost a family member and then turned around and lost a fellow veteran who couldn’t take it anymore. For all those that have served in a time of war, you know what I am talking about.
It seems like it has been decades since my last real perfect night’s sleep. I mean one of those nights where you just sleep like you are a baby again. Hell, I might have been a baby… who knows. I find myself staying up and flipping through channels or cleaning my M9 religiously in the dark. I’m 34 years old for Pete’s sake! I have three kids and I act like I am a mental case. The problem is that sometimes I think that I am.
I’m sharing this story with you because I ran into this Vietnam vet a few days ago and he noticed my military tattoo and, like the brotherhood we share, he came up to me and we shared a moment. We both didn’t say much but we wanted to tear up. We know that both of us had seen battle just by the look in each other’s eyes and it hurt but it was the bond that pulled us close. We missed being warriors but it was that feeling that is keeping us alive. I know that I did not have it as bad as he did and he knows that he did not want to be stuck in that hot desert for years. We both nodded our heads and walked our separate ways.
That night it got me to thinking… I can’t be around people like normal people can. We have nothing in common. They look at me like I am an outcast and I do not see why they even pretend. I am a single father and maybe that has something to do with it. Women tend to shy away from me like I have the plague but that is okay. I really don’t care. Is that a bad thing? I don’t want to waste their time just like it seems like they don’t want to waste theirs.
I miss being in the Army, there is no doubting that. Whenever I can, I try to talk with my “battle buddies” and the soldiers that were under my command and the ones that were in command of me. Some have gotten out and some are still in. What a life it would be if I was back in…
I tried that Facebook thing out about a month ago to see what the big deal was. My oldest child said I needed to reconnect with my life before the Army. She is one smart child. I tried it out. I thought of every person I went to high school with and sent messages out like it was funny. Out of 300+ messages, maybe 5% responded. This is the main reason social networking doesn’t suit me. It was a waste of time.
The point of all of this is that all of you warriors that are going through the same thing I am- the loneliness, the distancing and the constant wanting to be back in- I get it. I really, really do. You are not alone. There are so many of us vets that are in the same shoes you are but we have to stick together just like we did in battle.
I spent plenty of years as a warrior- many in the desert and many in several other places. I have written about my exploits in a journal and then burned the book. All the energy I once had is now depleted. Don’t get discouraged because people didn’t send you letters when you were deployed or they didn’t buy you drinks when you got back home. Trust me, I am sending out the letters and I am buying the rounds. I won’t forget you.