Looking to hear from US soldiers after their service (Iraq Particularly)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by poppe, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. poppe macrumors 68020

    poppe

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Woodland Hills
    #1
    I am very interested and curious on soldiers and their return from service. I would love to hear some stories of their service and coming back to America. Was it hard adjusting back into society? Was the plain ride home a big relief? What were you feeling as you arrived to your house? Was it nice to see your loved ones? Is it the same as being home before?

    I know this sounds weird, but I am really just interested in this all and trying to get a perspective on things. A personal perspective, not some novel with a writer who glorified certain characters or situations.

    Looking forward to the comments.
     
  2. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #2
  3. poppe thread starter macrumors 68020

    poppe

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Woodland Hills
    #3
  4. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    I'm an Army veteran who served in Iraq, although I've successfully re-integrated into the civilian community since. I can tell you honestly, that every veteran has different experiences, and the answers you get will vary a lot. I can only answer from my own perspective.

    -Was it hard adjusting back into society?

    For me, it was difficult in the sense that I was used to being around people (24/7) who were very mission oriented. Completing the task at hand took precedence over everything else, (often including Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). When I first became a civilian, the task at hand was usually not as critical, therefore several other factors interfered, or came first. This frustrated me immensely, and still does to a degree.

    I still can't walk alongside someone without unconsciously "getting into step" with them, and hearing cadence in my head. The hyper-awareness of my surroundings will probably stay with me until I die, as well, (along with the embarrassing overreactions).

    -Was the plane ride home a big relief?

    Relief isn't the word I'd use. It was surreal. I realize you anticipate that every soldier rides a plane home after war, and is immediately reunited with friends and loved ones, but this is not often the case with active duty soldiers. Reserve units return home as a unit. Regular soldiers often travel alone, and return to the military installation they were deployed from. They may or may not have family living with them on or near that base, and this often means the homecoming is delayed until they actually go home. This was the case for me, and I chose not to travel in uniform. I used the time on the plane to sleep, as at that time, sleeping in a place that felt relatively "safe" was an incredible luxury. No combat flashbacks or memories of fallen comrades. Just that kind of deep sleep where when you awaken, you aren't sure if an hour or a week has passed.

    -What were you feeling as you arrived to your house?

    It felt really strange. Everything seemed so quiet, and smaller than I'd remembered it. I felt anxious, excited, and distant at the same time. I had spent a lot of time thinking about arriving home, and part of me felt a little worried that things wouldn't be the same as I had anticipated a thousand times in my mind. In a way, I was too distant to really take things in at first. I knew I was different than when I'd last been home, but wasn't sure if it was a visible change. I've been told that I was really quiet when I got home.

    -Was it nice to see your loved ones?

    Yes.

    -Is it the same as being home before?

    No. I joined the Army at 17, and returned as an adult. Nothing was the same at all. Although I had visited between joining and my ETS, I never really explored things during visits. I didn't notice how much the city had grown, or how the children I used to babysit were now driving cars. My old school mates had been shocked by my decision to join, and were as inquisitive about my experiences as they were interested in when I planned to enroll in college and "get serious about my life". ;) I guess more than anything, I have changed. The military is a very violent, merciless world. A lot of it broke some of the innocence (for lack of a better word) in me, and it was a lot to process.

    In some ways, it feels very literally like transferring from one planet to another overnight, and knowing it's permanent. Everything you once knew as strongly as a religion suddenly doesn't always apply, or isn't appropriate, and you have to instantly recognize what is and what isn't. I miss being a soldier, and not a day has gone by that I haven't, on some level, wished I was still on active duty. While the things I miss do not include every aspect of being a soldier, they still exist, and very few can be accommodated in my civilian life. I miss the humor most of all. There's something about people who are so stressed out that they are no longer able to function without finding humor in virtually everything. I swear there are a lot of comedians in the military who missed their calling. I also miss the absolute structure, and the 'we're all in this together' mentality (I'm clueless on the Army of One commercials :confused:).

    On the other hand, I find it quite easy to live without taking orders from people who can barely read, and doing things a certain way (no matter how stupid), just because it's "been done that way for longer than you've been alive, and it's a tradition", blahblahblah. :)
     
  5. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #6
    I was hit by a car a few months ago and still get freaked out a little on a crosswalk. I can't imagine what it must be like for you.
     
  6. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #7
    Wow, I hope you weren't hurt badly, and are recovering (or recovered). I think I'd be freaking *a lot* on a crosswalk! I think you can imagine more than you realize, because traumatic experiences vary greatly in the details, but not so much in how they effect us. I'm glad you survived. :)
     
  7. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #8
    Sounds like a hate crime to me...
    ;)
     
  8. poppe thread starter macrumors 68020

    poppe

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Woodland Hills
    #9
    Those were great responses... I'm actually quite speechless at the moment. I have a friend in the military and he has told me he misses every day serving. It was worded much like how you said it.
     

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