I’ve decided to write about what people outside of the service don’t see when we are deployed, or even stateside. To begin this, if you have not read/seen “The Giver”, stop reading and execute. It will make this post make more sense.
In “The Giver”, a child is given the job of learning all of the memories that are shielded from the general public. This includes war, famine, and general suffering. It also includes things like seeing in color and some emotions. This got me thinking about how members of the military shield the general public from some of the worst things they could see in person.
We all know there are tons of photos and videos that depict war, suffering, and general violence. Many of us know someone who has experienced it. But, I am focusing on the wartime aspect of it. There is a large difference between seeing a person being shot in cold blood on TV and seeing burned bodies lining the streets that you are patrolling. The latter are the things that some of us have seen but have never shown the world. It is one of the burdens we have as members of the military.
We fight for those that can’t or won’t and, because of this, we have to see some of the worst things imaginable. This becomes all the more true while dealing with groups such as the Islamic State who have no problem executing large groups of people on video for the world to see.
How do we deal with this? Everyone has his or her own ways. For some, it’s at the bottom of a bottle of pills. For others, video games or physical fitness are they keys. We use these to help us cope and maybe forget the things we have seen and had to experience. Seeing a photo of a dead Afghan extremist is nothing compared to being the one who found him there.
We try to tell some people about we saw and how it affected us, but words will never compare to the visual scars that we all have. It is just another example of what most recruiters won’t tell you (no offense to the ones who give it straight to the recruits). All of us can agree that the service changes us, and for those who have seen war at its worst, how much being there affects us.
So what is the point of this Command Post? To enlighten you, and to let you know that you are not alone. There are thousands of other service members who have seen things that they may never fully understand. I urge you to find someone to talk to. The military has a generous amount of talk lines dedicated to service members in distress if you do not feel comfortable talking to someone in person. Get help, because one day, your service will come to an end and you will have missed the opportunity to use some of these services. You won’t miss the opportunity because they aren’t available once you get out, but it just may be harder to find someone to connect with.
Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.