Hammer Down

a Film by Stan Lake and Daniel Charles

Musings on War

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?

Watch the film “Hammer Down” HERE to hear stories of transition post war.