To start with, I am not a Doctor and I am not giving advice. This is simply my journal of things I have seen which have happened to myself or the ones I Love.
It would be arrogant and asinine for me to tell someone I understand “Their Pain,” what I can tell them is I have insight to their Suffering. I would also never suggest to a person they are cured or healed, the only description I would ever put forward is they are gaining or loosing ground in a lifelong battlefield with an ever shifting terrain.
A little about myself. I grew up in a large City in the Center of the United States Countryside. I had a small immediate family, in early life we lived close to my Mothers parents. My Fathers parents where a handful of hours away in the neighboring state. From my early memories my family was always active doing things together. We would go on family road trips and camping like many people where I grew up.
The best description I could give to anyone is picture a family that the Mother worked a independent job with no benefits and who always had to work hard to keep her business going. My Father started life by joining the Army, he had a previous Marriage with with one Son. He met my Mother after the first marriage failed and I never heard any arguments or bitterness from anyone involved growing up. They did as I wish people would do today and let kids be kids. They raised me without drama from adults and their issues and only with love.
I was young, a grade schooler, when my Father passed away. As a child I had been extremely close to my Mothers family prior to that event and it only grew to be a stronger bond. I look back and realize that Her Father and Brother, Grandpa Carr and Uncle Gary, became my new Fathers. I wish I had told them how much they have meant to me every single day, as they brought me through the early los and along with my Mother in my opinion had raised my in a way anyone would cherish.
Grandpa Carr passed a few years later when I was in middle school. My Uncle Gary stepped up even more and I began working for him at his city business and working on his farm as well. I would split my time between the city during the week and the farm on the weekends. No matter the family financial situation I never remembered a time I felt lacking. My family would always find a way to make things work. I recently remember hearing Dolly Patrons, A Coat of Many Colors song, and not the circumstances but the feelings and pride of growing up in a loving family where echoed in her words.
I never had problems with school, in fact much of it boarded me, nothing seemed particularly challenging except not debating teachers. I had no particular desire to go to college as I didn’t want to burden my family with debt and I didn’t want to stay in a city that was largely controlled by the business sales of one business, Boeing Aircraft Company. I also grew up in the height of the Cold War and had a deep admiration for the Military. I felt every American if able should give back to the U.S.A. in one way or another. By my Junior year in high school I was 100% set on joining the Marine Corps. I scored very high on the entrance exam and when I sat down with the Recruiter was given the book of career fields and told pick your job you can do anything you want. He was trying to sell me on an intelligence path or linguistics however, he was floored when I said I wanted 6 years of guaranteed contract for the Infantry and I wanted to be overseas. This shocked him so much he refused and sent me home to think about what he thought was a rash choice. I got what I wanted however and my new life began as a Grunt Machine Gunner in the Corps. I would later Indoc for the Reconnaissance Field and transfer to RECON. From there I would bounce around for the next 20 years between Reconnaissance, Intelligence, Marine and Navy Combat Tactics and Leadership teaching gigs and combat deployments with a Sniper Platoon as well as a Foreign Military and Police Imbedded Advisor teams.
Without question the closest groups I have ever served in where in the Reconnaissance, Scout Sniper and Infantry units which also included my time in Intelligence as it was a specialized Infantry unit within the community. These small communities become tight net groups as work is shared and so is the risk when you are completing actual missions. In combat there when two distinct groups of people that had different experiences and I am not holding one higher than the other, it is just a difference I noticed. There where the people who lived life “Outside the Wire” and those who lived life “Inside the Wire.” The “Inside the Wire” guys flew from a neighboring allied nation into theater of war directly on the Camp or Airbase they resided at during their Tour. The “Outside the Wire” guys where just that, these men and women left the large bases on varying frequency and duration and mission. I spent my Tour on what would be considered a FOB (Forward Operating Base) and what is considered a COP (Combat Out Post). I worked in both of those locations which consisted of 300-400 US Service members on the large side to around 100-150 guys. On my last Tour I lived on the Afghan controlled Base with 25-35 guys.
These people became family, many of which I still am in contact with today. And as many people could attest people whom you have shared so much hardship and pain with, you would do anything for. There is a special bond within units that deploy to or see combat or tragedies conducting missions. It is difficult to look back and realize that in my 24 year career I have seen between U.S. and Allied Forces I worked with the loss of well over 200 Brothers. In Iraq alone we had 1 in Pre-Deployment workup Killed in Training and between our Unit and those we conducted Missions with 110 men Killed In Action. The Afghanistan Unit we trained was later laid siege to while they refused to simply flee and attempted to defend the Provincial Government Headquarters. To my knowledge there where no known survivors.
In writing this, I just realized looking back I hadn’t even thought of the numbers of local Nations Civilians I have seen killed. This look back at my past is not to do anything accept if you haven’t deployed, you may have some idea of those you know could have experienced. Some see less carnage, some see much more. Also some are touched much deeper by it as the person they see killed they have a deep personal attachment to..
Your honest words and your determination to find peace after enduring such harrowing ordeals will surely inspire anyone who reads this blog. I admire your courage. Thank you for sharing your journey.
I am grateful for your words, input on my writing and time from your life you took to read through my story as it is so far.