Why Can't You Act Normal, It's Not Like You're Still at War!

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Why can’t you act normal? Its not like your still at war! Get the hell over it!

When a family member who has been serving in the military comes home from war we are all excited to see them and welcome them home. We have worried about them and thought about what they must have been going through while they were away. I mean heck we have all seen MASH, we know what war is like…right?

Seldom do we really realize the extent of what they were really doing while they were at WAR….let me say that again AT WAR!

We know that they had it hard and often times may have had to shoot while on patrol. But do we really understand the extent of what they saw, felt and had to endure while they were serving their country in some God forsaken country, where they were exposed to unspeakable acts of horror on a daily basis?

When I interviewed a soldier who was about to be deployed for the second time to Iraq, he told me that he was not afraid of being killed or dying, as much as he was afraid of having to live after he came back home again.

When I ask him what that meant, he replied ” I am afraid that when I come back I will be a monster who will not be able to live among regular good people again.”

He went on to tell me that before going on his other tour he had been a pleasant happy go lucky type of guy, a guy who trusted others and really never thought bad of anyone. 

Upon returning he often felt threatened in public places, felt hate when he saw middle eastern attired people and watched them with suspicion. 

He told me that he would sometimes panic when he was driving down the interstate and a van would pull up beside him. He would instantly assume it was a van full of shooters and that the side door would fly open and be full of the enemy, that were about to open fire on his vehicle.

He felt the same way when going under overpasses, from fear of someone ambushing his vehicle or dropping an explosive onto it. 

These were things he explained that happened everyday while he was in Iraq for over a year and that he was trained to watch for to prevent his team or himself from being killed. Which they often were even with the best of efforts.

With tears in his eyes, he told me of helping a family with 4 children who were near starvation. He and the some other soldiers would sneak them bags of food to keep them from starving to death. Upon returning a week later with more food, they found them after they had been slaughtered by the enemy soldiers for allowing them into their home. He said he often dreams of them… seeing their happy faces when they received the food and then the dead cold eyes in their little beaten, bloody faces after they were killed. Nightmares….yeah I would say so.

He told me to imagine being as angry as I had ever been. Angry enough to want to punch someone right in the face, and possibly not stop. Now imagine being mad enough to kill that person and everyone that was with them.

He told me that as a person at war that you have to stay in that mind set for 90% of the time you are there. You have to stay so mad and full of hatred for the enemy that you could kill that person or anyone with them, if you had to, to keep yourself or your team alive!

You are told to shoot any cats or dogs that approach the compound. Also any person (including women and children) who do not stop when commanded to halt, because they are probably implanted with an explosive that will be detonated once they are in the compound to do the most damage.

Small children (often wired with explosives by their parents) and women are often either carrying a hidden weapon or are suicide bombers who wait until they approach your team to either open fire or self explode to cause maximum damage. Nobody can be trusted! How the hell do you know which ones are harmless???

Now your tour is up and you get to come back home to the United States. Back to decent people who are not trying to kill you. Back to trusting the same people you were just yesterday trained to kill.

Back to dogs, cats and kids who don’t have bombs inside them waiting until you hold them to be detonated. Back to cars that pass you at high speed just to get around you, not to open fire on you for being American. 

Back home where everything is…Normal?

You as a spouse, friend or child may think you understand, but do you really? Do you really know what they know? I doubt it!

That military man or woman may ask themselves……Why can’t you act normal, because after all you are not at war anymore, damn it!

Hundreds and thousands of our military men and woman suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) after returning from war.

They can’t just turn off and forget the things they have seen, felt and had to do. They struggle daily with  getting back to normal life and adjusting to daily living in an environment that is totally different than the one they were exposed to if even for a short time.

If you or a loved one is having a hard time adjusting, know that there are professional who can help. Local VA medical centers offer free counseling as well as groups like DAV (Disabled American Veterans) who have people who have been through the same thing both in war and as the families of returning Vets. 

If you are a warrior or the family or friend of someone who is….get help now! Don’t wait! We can win this battle!

War comes at a price….don’t let that price be one American Military man or woman’s life due to losing the battle to PTSD. 

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