I’m not prone to sadness and depression. I’m actually one of the most resilient people I know. Sure, I have bad days like anyone else where the world closes in for an hour or two. I don’t know anyone who’s not manic who can make that claim.
But this last week has been a real bitch. Lots of dark and angry days. More than I have experienced in 40 years. That’s quite a stretch of time.
My problems are not the issue here. I think I’m like a lot of veterans in that I just let a lot of things roll off of me and ignore them. There’s a saying in the military from after my time: “Embrace the suck.”
That phrase usually covers it. It’s going to be lousy for a while, just dig in and embrace it. You’re out in the rain and the mud, quit worrying about your white tennis shoes.
This past week was different for most of us. I say that because I’ve talked to people I’ve known for years and they all seem to feel the same. I was thinking about avoiding the political in this post, and I will for a few more paragraphs.
Let’s get to the nub of this: someone you know is probably hurting way worse than me. You have a brother, sister, cousin, spouse, coworker or friend who served in the military. They need you to call them RIGHT NOW (time zone permitting) and check on them. You don’t have to give them a basic inventory for suicidal ideation on the phone, but just ask how they’re doing. Tell them you know it’s a rough time for veterans right now, and they were on your heart. That’s it. Then shut up and listen. You will probably hear them say they’re good. Pissed off, sad, whatever, but their voice will tell you they’re going to be good.
If that isn’t the case, ask them if they’re getting some help. If they can’t dredge up the energy to do that, give them the number above: 1-800-273-8255. If they are below that threshold of energy, add them on as you call that number. Your cell phone should make it easy. Figure out how to do it before you call them. Yeah, they may be really mad at you by the time it’s done. But imagine the gut-wrenching feeling you’d experience if you didn’t call and the next thing you heard was that they’d killed themselves. I’ve been that guy. Didn’t know it was going to happen. I’ll do anything to avoid that feeling again.
Now, assuming you’ve done the above, it’s political time.
I’ll be fine. Today is way better than yesterday, and the day before that one. I had lunch with two great fellow veterans today, and we shared our lives: that’s what gets us through to the next day sometimes.
But if you’re wondering why this set of deaths in Afghanistan is so demoralizing to people who haven’t even been in the military for 30+ years, there’s a simple answer: Nobody in charge cares. They view the troops as disposable pieces on a political playing field. They are more concerned with their careers than the lives of the people in uniform.
The most despicable thing you can do, in my less-than-humble opinion, is leave people behind. It is closely followed with needlessly sacrificing them on a political altar. The feckless generals, admirals, and resident of the White House have openly admitted that we PLAN TO LEAVE AMERICANS BEHIND. I am so freaking mad over that that my blood pressure just jumped 20 points. This was completely avoidable. It still is. We have the greatest military force in history, and we should flood the place with whatever troops and weapons it takes to crush the opposition, evacuate every American, destroy all the things we built, and leave not so much as a friggin round of ammo behind for the vermin who are taking over.
We have entrusted the security and well-being of our troops to the FREAKING TALIBAN. 8TH CENTURY BARBARIANS WHO HATE US. Yes, all caps. It’s like asking the SS to make sure wounded soldiers from Malmedy were cared for properly. It’s political, because the cowards in Washington won’t object to this insanity. Cowards with multiple stars on their shoulders. You want to know what a leader looks like? I’m not finding an example in our military above the O-5 level. But go to the end of this blog to see what one man has said. His opinions are mine as well.
None of this had to happen. It was all preventable. Don’t even bother to say we should never have been there: I agree. We should have swept in after 9/11 and flattened every one of the swine who caused it, leaving smoking rubble behind. And then left.
But we were there, and there is a moral obligation to take care of our allies and our people. That was not done. We lost any moral high-ground we had with the behavior of this administration.
I will be fine. But don’t expect me not to be angry and talk trash about the scum in charge. I plan on doing that for a long time to come. The tables with 13 beers and the people honoring the dead are a good thing. But it’s not enough. We need to demand change and demand it loudly. We should never again place our people in such a precarious position voluntarily.
I never minded the thought of going bad places with my people. I always knew President Reagan would come for us, and if he couldn’t, he’d destroy those who hurt us. That was enough. I pray for the dead, but even more so for the people still serving who have to serve under a leadership team that places so little value on their lives.
I can’t even imagine the personal dilemma of Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller. I don’t know his heart, but what I’ve seen of him in the last 12 hours impresses the heck out of me. He resigned his commission today as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps so that he could speak freely. I hope and pray he’s not a fraud, as he really touched my heart. Here is his video: