by The Usual Suspect
You know you're probably better off on the outside, but you can't help but miss some things, random aspects of your enlistment. Entitlements you no longer have.
You walk around here in the States, scanning and sizing everyone up without a pair of sunglasses on, and people are going to feel uneasy. I miss my Oakleys.
I remember the slight kick of an M4, how it feels when the trigger mechanism clicks. I miss that. I miss shooting stuff. I miss my M4, period. That thing was like an extension of your body, it went with you EVERYWHERE. Makes me feel bad for the dog handler guys when they get done. Not sure, but I think they have to give up their guns AND their dogs. Fuck that.
I miss Strykers. Not the mortar carrier ones, the regular ones. I miss sitting on the ramp, bullshitting with the guys. Smoking and joking and pissing and moaning.
I didn't really ever feel like I enjoyed having power over anyone. It wasn't a sick thrill to point a gun at someone and be able to decide if they live or not. That privilege was a tool, just like the rifle, not a fucking toy. But I miss that sense of self reliance. No matter what, I at least had a fighting chance because I had my rifle and my guys.
Then you step off the plane onto American concrete and they take your guns. The Infantry doesn't have a job when not deployed, other than to train and be ready. But that's all blank-fire and OPFOR and make believe, and you might as well be six years old with squirt guns again.
I think that it's a loss of purpose issue. Without something as clearly important (pull security) and meaningful (fight enemies that want to kill us) as our jobs (our REAL, deployed jobs), maybe some of us get a little bewildered in the woods.
In the deployed world, consequences are severe and obvious so that almost any idiot can see the importance. For example, "Hey, dumbass. Don't step on that metal thing that looks suspiciously like a pressure plate because this could mean explodey things and explodey things that aren't ours are very very bad."
It's all really simple, pretty cut and dry. Not the mission, just the life, from a grunt's perspective. When everything other than pulling security and basic grunt work is "above your pay grade".
It's a little harder to take shit seriously over here sometimes. Makes you wonder how someone can not take things seriously but still get insanely pissed off over them. Sounds counter-intuitive.
That probably just means that you have to find a new purpose when you hand your rifle off. I wasn't thinking about that though, I wanted to go get smashed. I really liked my purpose over there, and most of the guys with me. But between Big Army's regs and customs and courtesies and the overwhelming bullshit that blinds you to the good so that you can't even enjoy it until it's long gone, the Army just wasn't for me, and I'm not going to forget that.
I just miss some things. Maybe it's time to go out and find some new shit to miss later.