Saturday, July 19, 2008

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...

I've had some time to myself lately, and realize that i am really ready to get out of the army. I get really frustrated with the army politics, and no matter how much i attempt to make a change, or adjust my life to be less affected by the chaos that results, i can no longer tolerate the bad taste that is left in my mouth.

the Sergeant Major of my battalion told me (non-specifically, but never the less a shot fired in my direction) that, because i was un-willing to re-enlist, that i was doing a great disservice to my country, and that i was failing the soldiers that fall underneath me. I work hard day in and day out to ensure that my soldiers are taken care of, and that training is conducted to standard. To hear this man diminish my performance due to his un-realistic expectations for retention was truly diheartening. The problem with this situation is that it is not an isolated event. this is epidemic among the senior leadership of the Army. The sustained war in Iraq is weighing heavily on the spirit of the American Soldier. I have been to Iraq for a total of 26 months since joining the army 5 years ago. That is 26 months of time lost with my family that i will never get back. when i sit and think about this, i am, most of the time, brought to tears. The physical and mental injuries that i have sustained are with me daily. I cry alot. My back constantly hurts. I am always anxious.

There were times in my life when i loved to be the focal point in a crowd. I was constantly trying to be the center of attention. that was when i was happiest. All eyes on me. I spend a lot of time alone now. I like to have time to myself. Time to think. I am most calm when i am by myself. I go to Group therapy 2 times a week, and talk with people who have become friends. My doctor has diagnosed me with CPTSD (combat post traumatic stress disorder). The way i see it, I am a normal person, who was exposed to abnormal circumstances, and is having a normal reaction to them. Wierd things happen to the human mind when exposed to combat situations. confronting death (your own or others) on a daily basis is not healthy.

My last rotation in Iraq put me on what could best be described as the "front lines" of the war in Iraq. Asymetrical warfare is that in which there is not a line of combat. it happens all around. we imprison ourselves on heavily defended camps, and pray that the soldiers on the perimeter stay awake. i was the one on the perimeter. the keeper of the gate. I had to search dead bodies for weapons. i had to treat bleeding civilians. i had to asses wounded. the smell of death is branded into my mind. it haunts me in my sleep, and it creeps into my mind and crowds my thoughts during the day.

I don't know how long i will suffer from this affliction. I am not worried about whether or not i will ever feel "normal" again. God has promised me that will not be the case. "For i know the plans that i have for you says the lord. Plans for good, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." I have a future. and it is not in the army.
I have given some of the best years of my life to serve my Country.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
-Thomas Jefferson.


Anonymous said...

Andrew remember professional soldiers are trying to "persuade" you to re-enlist. The sargent major has played his ace. You are a patriot. You have already served your country with honor. Do NOT let those weak around you bring you down.

Remember recovery happens in community. ILY IMY IPFY MO

Pete said...

I love you so much and am proud of all that you have accomplished! I miss you terribly and wish you could be home already. Keep your head up and know that the end of your army time is near. Your nephews can't wait to play with you.


Mrs. Moyer's daddy said...

Man, this one broke my heart, Drew. For the pain you shared, the silliness from the SM and the fact that it got to you. Somewhere, someplace, he's doing a Wal-Mart a disservice by not being there greeting shoppers.

Hey, it'll probably sound trite as all get out, but my mom used to ask, "If he called you a giraffe, would you believe him?"

You're tall, bud ... but you're no giraffe.

Hang in there. The civilian world needs you ... trust me. :-)


Leah said...

Great post. I am reading Codependent No More and I think it might help you too. It is a good read even if you don't need this help. War does really suck. I think you will have a lifetime of grief for the things you have seen. After 4 years I am still brought to tears when memories come to me...the only difference is memories only come once in a while now and not everyday. ILY

Need to comment on MO's comment, "CSGM has played his ace" haven't seen nothing yet. I think this was just a WTF moment and the "ace" is yet to be played. Stay strong and remember they are going to bring their A game in the next couple of months.