A very good friend of mine did 5 tours in Iraq and was part of a Marine Corps battalion that was instrumental in the fall of Fallujah. He saw humanity at its most feral. This guy was a fun-loving, beer swilling, tail chasing good ole boy in high school. He drove fast cars but was smart as a whip and as respectful as any English gentleman.
When he was finally given his last leave and returned home, I didn’t recognize who he was. He was gaunt and tired. He aged ten years in less than five. He was emotionally unwound and would cry just talking about a baseball game.
I remember sitting at a Winghouse with him having a beer and some wings when an old car backfired in a parking lot across the way. He dropped to the floor quicker than I’ve ever seen anyone move and was shaking like a wet dog. It took me ten minutes to convince him that he wasn’t back in Iraq. He was at the VA the next morning and they gave him “Happy pills,” as he called them.
He killed himself a few days later. His suicide note was a rambling screed full of inadequacy and fear. He could not remember how to behave in the civilian world. Everyone he met was a potential threat. “This is how we stay alive,” he used to tell me. For a guy who was 6’4”, 200+ lb. he sure was afraid of a lot of things.
I cannot possibly imagine what life was like over there. PTSD is one Hell of an issue for these boys. Some deal better than others. Alan couldn’t. His heart was in the desert with his boys.
Wow, your story is very moving.....
I’ve had many soldiers tell me that under the O’Bummer rules of engagement, they are not allowed to shoot back, even when shot at. The new rules of engagement make our soldiers sitting ducks!
The suicide rate is high as they are putting our soldiers in no win situations and taking away their power. They feel helpless.
I don't mean to turn this into a political rant, but I think situations like the one you described illustrate just how idiotic it is to turn our soldiers into a "foreign legion" that gets sent all over the world fighting these stupid wars that last for years and eventually don't even make sense anymore. The U.S. military has been engaged in active combat in Afghanistan, for example, for more than an 'effing decade, and you probably can't find five people in the halls of Congress who can even explain coherently why we're still there.
The very concept of an armed citizenry is predicated on the notion that the nation will not need a large standing military force, and can instead rely on "citizen soldiers" to defend it in a time of need. When someone like your friend gets sent overseas for five combat tours, he's already operating at an emotional disadvantage because he's completely out of his element in a strange place, fighting a war that has absolutely nothing to do with defending his home and country.
I am so sorry to read what happened to your friend. I use to hear the saying, “His body returned home but he was left there”. I really didn’t understand it fully but I do now. In a way, your friend “died” in Iraq. The Alan that returned home really wasn’t him. He died in the War. IMHO. Prayers for you, and Alan’s family.
Yeah, they had one of our dudes on Xanax. It's like he was in love all of a sudden with the drug and the psychiatrists and became the biggest coward ready to denounce any of us if he was not behaving in his own best interest.
It was a nightmare. He was a good soldier and he came out completely ate up, inconsiderate, unprofessional and was screaming at the top of his lungs about why the commander did not want him to touch the equipment while under the influence of "happy pills".
It's like a drunk who gets angry for you taking away his car keys, trying to influence you and I while they are under the influence of a substance that makes them think they are invincible and can act like jerks if they want to. However, unlike alcohol temporary effects, it seemed that Xanax got him real stuck on stupid for a long time.
****when an old car backfired in a parking lot across the way. He dropped to the floor***
I’ve known WWII vets who would do that. Some even went way out in the country every 4th of July so as not to hear the constant Pop.Pop of firecrackers.