The “Other” American Soldier
Gone are the days of the welcome home parade and the faithful wives there to greet the long missed hero. You see it in the movies. You read of it in books. The warrior, the fighter, sacrificing their lives for the freedom and security of those whom he has left behind. We know of a noble man who survives the ravages of war and captivates the world with his story. Gone are the days when every story, even that of sitting in the foxhole for countless days, are regarded as acts of heroism and extraordinary courage.
The new American soldier has no longer found it easy to fascinate his community with the very breath he takes. He has found it nearly impossible to be treated as a simple human being at times. Businesses see him as ‘Money’. They also seem to assume he knows nothing about what good service is. Politicians reference them as pawns. Employers regard them as PTSD suffering nutcases, sometimes known as a liability.
Just as the America soldier stands tall and true into the face of the enemy, he also stands tall and true, sometimes, into the face of our society. He is obligated in his heart to accept everything he has as a blessing. He knows war. He knows death. He accepts the fact that he may have to give his life at any moment for the good of his family and country. He has accepted what many people can never fathom.
There is a dark side to many of our soldiers. The world in which they have immersed themselves and their families is unstable and at sometimes unbearable. The lonely days and lonelier nights can take a toll on the beaten soul. He drinks. He drinks alone many nights. He smokes a pack of cigarettes without a pause for fresh air. He will love a new girl every week.
The American Soldier will cry. He will cry tears filled with the indescribable emotions not only of war, but of the anticipation of having his world turned upside down again and again. As he sleeps at night, he may have nightmares of dying friends, or the mere thought of suffering themselves. This ‘Other’ soldier dreams at night of a loving family, a bright future and a reason to get up in the morning.
Suicide is a very real and tangible option for more than society will accept. It is considered taboo to even admit to considering the very possibility. Granted, it is a cowardly way out, but when faced with the realities of being the ‘other’ soldier, one cannot simply dismiss it as a personal problem.
** I was never able to finish this correctly. I don’t know if I ever can.