I recently had the privilege to have several of my war poems published in a poetry anthology called “In Love...&War: The Anthology of Poet Warriors” by Dead Reckoning Collective. Be sure to grab a copy of this amazing collection of GWOT warrior poets.
I don’t Know what you would consider where I am. It’s anywhere but here really. It’s strange when people talk about their past with such fondness. All I have of the past is memories of harsher times. Shouts in the distance that ring in my eternity. It’s like something short circuited that just wont be fixed.
I walked away from my brothers so they wouldn’t see my “weakness”. Little did I know we would all go through the same. These men, my brothers, were not given family, but family all the same. I would die for each of them in a million ways. The one time each of them needed me I wasn’t there.
“The funny thing about going to war nobody ever tells you, even if you make it home, part of you still dies.”
Too wrapped up in my own pain to see that they needed me. Too wrapped up in where I belong to see that they didn’t fit either. The funny thing about going to war nobody ever tells you, even if you make it home, part of you still dies.
Even if you strive to be the person you once were, something has changed. Your mind will scream at you while your body moves through life. Happiness will be a memory of happier times. Your brothers will always be your brothers.
You’ll always be a hero. You’ll never live up to your own expectations. Your life has forever changed, and you’ll never be the same.
By Jacob Young
This one was submitted by Jacob Young. Former A/C BTRY 5-113 Field Artillery, From 2002-2008 and the 1452nd NCNG from 2010-2013. Jacob deployed from 2005-06 with A 5-113 during OIF and was on the gun truck platoon with me during that deployment.
After the war I was lost. I mean truly and absolutely lost. When your identity is wrapped up in staying alive and the comradery of a shared misery with brothers you’ll likely never see again post service, you seem to spiral in a centrifuge of self-doubt and confusion. All my better days and yesterdays are all I seem to have left. To go from combat effective to culturally irrelevant with one plane ride across the ocean seems to rob a man of his self-worth.
When the lives of you and your co-combatants rely on staying the course, not getting complacent, and focusing on the mission critical elements of a convoy briefing what do you do when the mission is over and you are now of no value to anyone? I checked under bridges and overpasses for trip wires and snipers for months after arriving home. I would cringe and duck at every bridge on highway 85 on my way to the liberal arts college that was protesting a war I was recently involved in. Is this the America I put my life on the line for?
“To go from combat effective to culturally irrelevant with one plane ride across the ocean seems to rob a man of his self-worth.”
Why is everyone so angry? Why do these troglodytes speak vehemently about things they could never understand because they’ve never been there. They never experienced the terror of a stalled convoy in a sandstorm in the shitty part of town. They’ve never heard the soul crushing boom of an IED or felt the earth shake from the peppering of Mortars on some far out FOB in Western Iraq. What could they possibly know of seeing death and dying all around. I don’t know why we went to war. Was it empire expansion, oil, or liberation? I assume time and history will shape that narrative but to me it never mattered. I was trained to fight, I signed up to shoot rockets, I later found myself first on a .50 caliber machine gun in a scantily armored Humvee and later in a professionally up armored tractor trailer.
I didn’t sign up for this, I wasn’t trained for that, yet there I was. The army sends you where they need you not where you want to go. War is hell but coming home is worse. The further I am removed from combat the more useless I feel. The more worthless I feel. What is my mission, where are my brothers, who has my back?