Sunday, February 21, 2010

Missing It

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.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you buy yourself some sunglasses and a gun, and then go to a range and practice? It is a great sport.

KathyB said...

Sunglasses are a joy of life. I have poor eyesight and wear gas permeable contact lenses to maximize vision, including peripheral vision. For almost thirty years it has been a wonderful pleasure to pick up sunglasses from a revolving rack in a store.

Always makes me sing a little ZZTop.

As a kid I had to play the nurse when we played army, followed behind with no gun. Didn't much matter since we were mostly hiding from cars coming down the street anyway.

My brother brought a captured AK47 home from the Vietnam war, from a cache in the mountains. No M16 though.

My ex wore a hunting knife in a leather sleeve on his belt throughout college after Vietnam. Not concealed, legal. Kept him from feeling too naked I guess.

Pattie Matheson said...

"...the Army just wasn't for me, and I'm not going to forget that."

Agreed, and good!!

"... Maybe it's time to go out and find some new shit to miss later."

There ya go!!!

And may I just say as an aside here, after months of fiddle farting around I FINALLY figured out how to get the music thingie on my blog without asking you how to do it. Feelin' pretty smug ;)

Opus said...

What anon said, seriously. Go get yourself some Oakleys, and wear 'em every day, sunny or not.

Find someone with a NRA Life Member sticker on their truck. Ask a cop. There's a gun shop, a range, and people who like to shoot somewhere near you.

If you really want to ride around in an armored vehicle, carry a weapon, wear shades all day, and get paid for doing so-- look for an armored courier company to work for. I know several veteran friends who do, and they enjoy being able to take the cost of ammo and range time as an employment related deduction on their taxes. ;)

bigD said...

Hi Ryan,
Well said...I think it's natural to go back and reassess your experience. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Once you are away from something for a while, you are able to see things from a different perspective. When you are in the midst of the suck, it's gotta be hard to see much good. Now that you have been out for a while, you can remember some of what was good about that time in your life. I feel the same way being out of the nursing field for a little while now after working for 28 years as an RN, there was a lot of good that I was doing in my job; but, there was also a lot of BS that I couldn't take anymore. I miss the good, but, I haven't forgotten the bad and I know you haven't either.

As for the Oakley's...well, the Army should have let you guys keep them as a "lovely parting gift!" Those things are damn expensive, but, you're worth it. Get some!

Take care Ryan. You are ever in my thoughts and prayers. God(s) bless you. :P

P.S. - I like the "find some new shit" plan.

membrain said...

And if you can't afford Oakley's there ar a lot of good but cheaper look-a-likes. Polarized sunglasses should be mandatory. People start getting cataracts at your age from being in the sun without sunglasses. I know 'cause they're gonna lay me down and slice open my left eye next week. While I'm awake. Thank God they're gonna sedate me.

membrain said...

And if you can't afford Oakley's there ar a lot of good but cheaper look-a-likes. Polarized sunglasses should be mandatory. People start getting cataracts at your age from being in the sun without sunglasses. I know 'cause they're gonna lay me down and slice open my left eye next week. While I'm awake. Thank God they're gonna sedate me.

This is the story of.... said...

My husband carried his M16 everywhere while deployed in Iraq; it was his constant companion and was even within arms reach while he slept, propped against his body armor and helmet, ready to go at a moments notice. His "16" even accompanied him home on the plane ride back to the States, yeah assault rifles on a plane - go figure! Carrying his weapon felt so natural I fully understand why, when he arrived home from Iraq, he felt such a loss after surrendering it.

Shortly after parting ways with his gun he found himself back in smallville USA trying to assimilate back into suburban family life when only days earlier he’d been fighting in a combat zone. As you can imagine, that did not go well, and his world began to crumble around him. It was clear something was seriously wrong and he was ultimately hospitalized for an intensive series of in-patient evaluations, drug trials, and counseling sessions. His final diagnosis was a Traumatic Brain Injury and severe combat PTSD. But despite the intervention, his condition continued to deteriorate to such a wretched low he could no longer meet the demands of his job as a Senior Biologist. Back in the hands of the VA he was given a lifetime rating of 100% disabled. Medically retired after 19 years of dedicated service it is no wonder he suffers horribly from feelings of worthlessness.

I am picking up the pieces of his broken life, but I consider him whole. I am honored to be his wife.

Anonymous said...

Suspect, changes are tough and freaky. You have a great ability to process and land on your feet; way better than average. You were immersed in something huge and intense, but similar things are happening out here to a lot of people... in the last year I lost a business that I thought was going to give me a purpose in life. The job I held on to for ten years to pay the bills evaporated yesterday... the relationship of twenty-two years went up in a puff of stinking smoke several years ago and I'm still sorting out the pieces.

This is what happens to us...and we're the lucky ones because we are still here, and we can vaguely process wtf is going on.

I have been amazed at your ability to keep processing the crazy you are handed. You've got what you need inside. You're not Superman, but you roll and get up each time. Keep doing that; you can never get too good at it. Best!!! z

FOX3 said...

Believe me, I'm right there with you. One step at a time battle, one step at a time.