Saturday, October 14, 2017, 2330 Hrs.
Strangers meet for the first time, on a bus that is taking them all to an unfamiliar place. Every person is thinking thoughts about what will be happening soon, as they arrive at a place where they can only imagine or remember seeing movies of the military reception station. The place where a loud-mouthed, impersonal and seemingly cruel person tells you to “get the hell off of my bus!” and does so with a demeanor that leaves no uncertainty inside of your mind that this is something you should do, like right freaking now!
Basic training is what it is, a time of learning and discovery for both the training staff and for the individual person who undergoing this transformational time in their lives. It’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be, it should stress you, it should depress you, it should break you out of the narcissism that you may have been taught is normal. This experience is meant to break you down and rebuild you into a person who thinks and believes differently than you ever have before. For some, it takes, for others, it is tolerated until it is over. Only after you’ve left and are faced with the closeness of the military social system will you find out whether or not you belong.
It would probably shock many to learn that not very many people who do serve, are emotionally fit to do so. Service without going to a war zone or being deployed into situations where your life may be in danger, away from your family, children, spouses, and whatever else makes you feel like you are living a safely normal life, can wear down an already limited emotional sense of security. It is not too uncommon to have conversations amongst friends who say that they can’t take it anymore. But they are afraid of the consequences that might come with saying so to someone who should be willing to help them with the situation.
Service can more often than not, mean giving up a large portion of your personal freedoms and choices.
This fear can erode any sense of self-confidence a person may have had. Truthfulness in the face of personal adversity can be a type of slow death for a person in the military. There are very few secrets that are kept. Visit a therapist and the whole unit knows about it. Now, you are seen as an “unstable” person. Someone upon whom the group may not be able to count upon to act when the time comes. This pressure is unbearable inside of the mind of a person who already has self-doubts.
No bomb has exploded, no bullet has whizzed past the head, no buddy has been blown apart beside you, you have not left a part of your body on a field in a place you can’t even pronounce the name of, no, you have simply run into the lack of ability to adjust completely to a life you were not born to live.
Emotional pressure can be enormously abusive on a person. But when you’re in the military, this is not acceptable. You’re a wimp, a puss, a fag, a broke-dick, a malingerer. I’ve heard terms used against people that you would hardly believe could be used against someone who is serving their country, but absolutism is the demand, and the stock-in-trade is to enhance the inability for persons to be so much an individual, as to be obedient to the plan.
There is no room for exceptions, one must toe-the-line, or one is seen as problematic. In combat, the need for like-minded members is often necessary, but in a setting that is not combat related, life is lived differently, you pay bills, hang out with your children, and family and your friends. The whole dynamic is different and individual desires are normal to this style of living.
Is there any reason to wonder why so many people who have been exposed to the horrendous spectacle of combat, fall apart inside? They see immeasurably dastardly aspects of humanity’s ability to dismantle itself on the face of ideological beliefs that disregard the sanctity of life. It’s difficult to accept that you are a part of this monstrosity. It stays with you forever, even if you are able to get a handle on the negative responses you may have, the memories stay with you.
Leaving the military can be difficult as well. People who have become family are left behind, the process of staying in touch is lost quickly in time that passes along almost unnoticed until a phone call or a letter that reminds you that it has not been weeks, it has been years since contact was last made.
Parts were truly good for me, some other parts were abusive, some were excessively negative, but the parts that plague me, are monstrous, and I will need to deal with them for life. I know it, and like it or not, I’ll do the work, because I am more important to myself than the demands of a system that has no reason to feel or to care for me, or for that matter, anyone else who is involved in its workings.
I thank all veterans for their service, and their families as well, because they all serve(d).