Veteran Struggles Part 3: Living Life
So in my last two posts on Veteran Struggles, I have shown that life is not what it seems to be for Veterans. It isn’t as easy as everybody makes it out to be.
“American Veterans are the backbone of our society.” Have you ever heard this before? If you have it is because it was in passing, or you are a political savant and listen to all the rhetoric that is being put out there by politicians. However, it is the one thing that I can fully 100% agree to.
Going back to World War II, this was the Greatest Generation, this generation put it all in the line – they volunteered to serve into almost certain deathlike conditions. When they came back from combat, they did what they could to get back to their new “normal.” This newness of a life brought on a new sort of living for these Veterans. They built the life that we as Americans are living today. These men were heralded as heroes, as saviors of this country, keeping us from socialism and anarchism.
Moving on into history, the Veterans of the Korean War were forgotten. They never got the hero’s welcome because technically that war is still going on. The Korean War is still on a cease fire. Furthermore, moving into the Vietnam Conflict (which we all know was a War); these Veterans were brought home and literally spit on. This caused more grief on an already overly grief-stricken group of soldiers that have lost so many: 211,454 American wounded and killed. Statistically speaking they were lucky to make it home alive. That war was a lot different than the war that we are currently involved in. These Veteran’s came home to an environment, not conducive to recovery and wellness; instead, they came home to a disagreement among how they are and how they feel. Our Vietnam Veterans have been forgotten because the media made it into a war that wasn’t just.
Today, the media has made a truncated event out of our Veterans. Our Veterans are heroes, but they were fighting a war that was “unjust”. This is the beginning of how Part 1 and Part 2 of this post came to be. Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have come back to a barrage of different emotions and a quite confused civilian population. There are the people out there that think the war is unjust and should do everything we can do to stop the war including spitting on Veterans. There are some out there that think the war is unjust but the Veterans are heroes. And finally there are those that think that war is not a necessary evil, but the people that fight it are the evil ones. It is all these emotions that really strangle out the thought processes behind our Veterans.
Our Veteran’s deserve more.
The life of a combat Veteran is very difficult. The struggles that Veteran’s learn how to handle in basic training is in fact about combat, not the media, nor the civilian population. Combat soldiers are not trained to deal with the people that are spitting on them. They are trained to kill people that are trying to kill them.
Learning how to kill is not an easy task for anyone to take on, but once it is taught is an everyday thought process. Veterans cannot be one to standby and listen to mindless droning on and on about certain current events. Veterans try as hard as they can to live a regular life after combat. It is very difficult for a combat Veteran to not think about the situations that they went through. The events that they went through cannot be turned off in their heads. It cannot just “go away.” Living with combat stress or PTSD is and can be very difficult.
Life is challenging enough as it is; now let’s add on combat stress or PTSD. If you are not a combat Veteran, think about this – You are in the most stressful event of your life (whatever it may be) now multiply it by about 100 times for 365 days a year. That is about what the stress level is in a combat zone. You don’t feel that stress until you get back into the “real” world. Combat soldiers do not know from one day minute to the next if they are going to still be alive. Yet, at the time they do not realize that they are in such an extreme environment. Life is not a given, life is a gift, and combat soldiers do not realize that until they get home from combat. This becomes an extreme burden at times and we then call Combat Stress: PTSD.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very encompassing disorder. It can cover a wide array of mental disorders, but combat stress is very real. It is a very different disorder because Combat Veterans are good, nay, great at masking their true feelings and emotions. Combat Soldiers are taught to keep their emotions in check, so that they can go to combat and not break down emotionally or physically in the middle of a fight, and instead of talking out their problems they are tight lipped and keep what is inside of them inside. Profound, right? However, this is a very real and very deep-seated issue that Combat Veteran’s face on a daily basis.
People cannot understand that the reason for being a recluse, but a Combat Veteran sees becoming a recluse as an escape and a way to not have to talk to the outside world. The outside world always wants to get the inside scoop on what is going on inside that of a combat veterans head. They all think that the combat veteran is or has some kind of mental deficiency. The truth is though that they can handle a lot more than people give them credit for. They aren’t “crazy”, well some of them are, but the vast majority of Combat Veterans that have PTSD are just misunderstood and have issues that are deeper than the skin. The Combat Veteran does not want to discuss their issues; however, they want to talk to their friends, but they do not want to talk about combat.
Moving Forward >>>
Veteran’s struggle on many different issues, and for many different reasons; furthermore, the American Combat Veteran is a complex individual. You can see these reasons broke down in two Hollywood movies that are current with issues for special force combat soldiers: American Sniper and Lone Survivor.
If you feel that your Combat Veteran is suffering from an issue, talk to ‘em. Tell them that you are there for them. Don’t ask them for details on how they are feeling because most likely they are going to clam up and say they are fine. I am a Combat Veteran, as you can probably tell, and I am telling you that we are the heart of the American way. We dedicated ourselves to being better than the average person. We may not be professional athletes, but we trained just as hard for a lot less money! If you can tell that your Combat Veteran is hurting get them to someone that they can talk to, even if it isn’t you. They have someone.