Returning from War #1

This is a companion to my first post on deploying:

So I was returning from my first deployment, I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I was changed.  I traveled home by myself, since I was an individual augmentee it wasn’t like I was redeploying with my unit.  Basically a military rotator flight flies us back from the middle east and drops us off in Baltimore, from there we split up to our home cities.  Baltimore is kind of nice, there is a random crowd of people greeting the returning veterans.  After that though you’re on your own depending on what city you’re going to.  I opted to arrange my travel to travel straight through to my home base overnight after Baltimore just so that I could get home earliest.  It was exhausting, and I was arriving very early in the morning.  I had only told my friends who were picking me up my travel plans.  I didn’t want a bunch of people to have to wake up early on the weekend to see me.  Although when I got back, I was surprised because not only my couple friends were there but also another man in a suit.  He introduced himself as my new commander, he had found out and kept track of my return time, and woken up early to greet me back before he had to head off for a family event.  That really left an impression on me as to what it means to be a leader.

So I was back, and I did what any young person who gets back from 6 months of straight work, I partied.  Definitely started living it up.  This started a dangerous tendency to push my drinking limits higher.

I noticed other things changed.  I had a different perspective on the world, and my own life felt a lot smaller in a way.  Almost pointless given the troubles of the world.  In addition, I became more of a risk taker.  Both in hooking up, drinking, and lifestyle.  Eventually I got a motorcycle.  In some ways it was a good thing, I had always been really shy around women, and I started to do a lot better in that field afterward.  I was also a lot more decisive, a by-product of working in a warzone, which can be a good thing.  In general it was a good experience for my career and my personal development.  There was a deeper sense of companionship with others who served overseas, but also a sense of separation from those who hadn’t.  There was a dark side.

I can easily understand why so many veterans fall into substance abuse and suicide.  You realize the world is a big place, you are just a very minor player and the common every day happenings just don’t give you the same amount of pleasure.  It becomes easy to just say fuck it, and drink more or become suicidal.  And given your new found decisiveness, you are much more likely to follow through on suicidal thoughts.  It’s a dangerous spiral.

As I had written before, I spiraled into alcoholism.



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