The sad reality for many men and woman who enter into the armed forces is that they will never be strong enough to battle the emotional pain that war leaves you with. It turns out that slogans like “Be All You Can Be” or “The Few – The Proud – The Brave” are brilliant tactics of marketing rather than honour codes you will be living by after returning from deployment. The real slogans you will be living by will be “Doctor, I can’t sleep” or “I wish these flashbacks could be erased from my mind” and maybe even “this PTSD ruins every aspect of my life”.
Imagine if you were a young man or woman who has recently graduated but doesn’t really have a solid career path outlined for your future. You start to see your friends entering college and others may even start launching out on various exciting career paths of their own, but you feel stuck and left behind. Then one day you walk past an army recruitment office and a solider comes out and gives you the sales pitch “WE NEED YOU”, planting the seed that there is no better way of being a man or a woman than to protect your country. The adrenaline and testosterone so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife, and the high pressure sales tactics your undeveloped mind(the brain stops growing at 24) and you sign your life away to fight for “freedom and honour”. Before signing your acceptance letter they probably weren’t deliberately walked through the statistics of PTSD for returning soliders from battle either.
Your first couple of weeks are gruelling, but you start to really enjoy the camaraderie of your new brothers and sisters. Your powerful leader pump you full of national pride and prepare you for battle through vigorous training exercises and you begin to feel like you are becoming part of something powerful. Then the time comes for deployment and the excitement starts to overpower you. You arrive at your post overseas and quickly set our on your first mission. Your captains voices is ringing in your head “NOW THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TRAINED YOU FOR SOLDIER”. You leave the base listening to highway to the dangerzone and feel invincible until suddenly you start to come under attack from ‘the enemy’ and are forced to return fire maiming and killing a handful of people. You return to base shaken up, but still alive and start to get some props for your first kill. You don’t know it yet, but this is where things start to subconsciously go downhill in a big way.
The adrenalin and admiration of your peers for getting your feet wet in battle starts to fade away and then questioning voices from the deep recesses of your mind start to charge within you. You begin questioning life and think about the families you’ve taken life from. After a while of going in and out on missions you start to question why you are even there fighting a war to begin with. The devastated cities and the broken communities chip away at your morale and you realize the decision making capacity of taking life should remain in the hands of God, not in the hands of someone who has recently only entered into adulthood. It is becomes apparent to you that most of your ‘enemies’ never had any desire of causing you or your country harm in the first place.
The day comes whern you have completed your mission and will be sent home to be with your family. You return a hero in the eyes of your people and are given medals to honor your corporate contributions to the few…….I mean civil contributions of freedom to the masses.
You sit back in your recliner feeling accomplished and then one day the mental torment that is war all comes crashing down on you, and never really leaves you for the rest of life. The stress gets so bad that you can’t maintain a job and are now placed on a medical disability package that covers the bare minimal. The short 20 minute visits to the doctor barely scratch the surface of your suffering and you feel hopeless and isolated with your manic mind. The reality of your situation feels so very bleak and you become one of the millions of returning casualties of war that the government really doesn’t care for.