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i don't know what to say - when you don't know what to do...
do the next thing
i don't know what to say
Someone I knew here at Camp Victory has died, and I am given to understand that it was a violent death. I don't know exactly what happened, and I will not air my speculations. Nor can I say the name of the individual, as to my knowledge it has not yet been released, and it would not be fit for me to say anything about it before we are sure that the family has been notified.

It's a terrible shock, though, as the person in question was very near to redeploying, and was around my age. We weren't close, though we were friendly, and at one point saw each other daily as we went about our business. It's not quite real yet.

It's a fact of life here that people die suddenly and usually violently, and that there will be societal repercussions for years as veterans return home and try to reintegrate into society. I think that the effect on Reservists and Guardsmen will be particularly profound, because when we go home, we don't have to go to drill for three months. For three months, the people who knew us best will be out of touch. The people who know what to look for will not be there to see the changes that may be harbingers of darker things to come.

It's already happened in my hometown of Lawrence. A Marine Reservist, recently returned from duty in Iraq, opened fire on a group of clubgoers leaving a nightclub near his apartment. He said that a juice bottle had been thrown through his window, and fearing for the safety of his family, took the action he felt was necessary to protect them. There are no cops to call in Iraq; protection is DIY, as it were. Two people were wounded. The shooter, a funeral director by trade, was a mortuary specialist in the Marine Corps. He had handled the remains of over 75 fallen servicemen during his tour, and was on the team who recovered the bodies of the contractors who were hung on the bridge in Fallujah. I drove by the funeral home owned by his family all the time. It's within walking distance of my house. So is the apartment he lived in, and the club where the shooting occurred. The entire incident happened within a half-mile of my home.

I think we'll see more incidents like this before all is said and done. American society is all about "supporting the troops," and for this we are profoundly grateful. But will they be so forgiving when we are continually haunted by what happens here, and act accordingly? After spending so much to support us while we're here, will they be willing to spend more to heal us when we're home?

i feel: sad sad

10 trips or shoot the rapids
points From: points Date: October 29th, 2005 07:25 pm (UTC) (base camp)
If our own history is any guideline to go by...

I'm afraid that there will be a second, much quieter war to be fought back at home once all is said and done.
esmerel From: esmerel Date: October 29th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I have been thinking about you recently, since I didn't remember seeing much in the way of posts from you. I don't have much else, really, just that people over here are thinking about you.
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tashabear From: tashabear Date: October 30th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC) (base camp)
That's just it -- the military also breeds a culture of self-sufficiency and "toughing it out". Will we be able to recognize crises in ourselves? Will our loved ones? Will we admit it when something's not right with us mentally or emotionally?

This deployment has changed me forever. It's changed Wolfie forever. In a great many ways, I'm a better person, and in others, I'm a little more bitter and cynical than before. But I'm still going to be able to enjoy fireworks when I get home. The only explosions I hear are from artillery ranges, and they're not shooting at me. I'm going to be fine, but I worry about the others. I see young men and women passing through here all the time, going one direction or the other, and I wonder what their lives will be like in the future, how many of these people will end up broken at the end. Most of the time, I try not to think about it.
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tashabear From: tashabear Date: October 30th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Come on, Tibor, you know what I mean. If I spend too much energy worrying about things and people I have no control over, I'll eat myself alive.

Quick story: One of my friends died while we were in college. He was in my Reserve unit, and he died when he fell asleep at the wheel, driving to a Thursday night admin meeting. I was at that meeting. I had thought about asking him if he wanted a ride, but Kimball never went to admin drills. I could have changed things if I'd called him... maybe he'd be alive, or maybe we'd both be dead. I'll never know, and I can't think about it too hard. That sort of thing will break you.

I can't afford to borrow trouble. The interest rates are killer.
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tashabear From: tashabear Date: October 30th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) (base camp)
If it were something that was really worth talking about, you can bet I'd be talking. Worrying about soldiers going north is something that crosses my mind from time to time, but I don't devote a lot of brain cycles to it. They're not my troops; nothing I do will make a single bit of difference in their lives. The homeward bound folks -- we work as fast as we can to get their equipment processed, so they can go home. They've already been in the shit. There's nothing I can do to change that, except be there if they decide I'm the one they need to talk to.

You don't talk about things much here, because you need to stay focused on doing the next thing. You can't show weakness, because your peers andsubordinates will lose faith in you. A sudden violent death in the workplace at home would have the whole place shut down for days, if not weeks and grief counselors would be on call 24/7. Here, we say a quick prayer, have a memorial service, and meanwhile drive on with our business.

On the other hand, you'd be surprised the things I've survived at home by not thinking about it too much.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 30th, 2005 12:19 am (UTC) (base camp)
"...will they be willing to spend more to heal us when we're home?"

Short answer? No.

What just happened in your hometown happened everywhere, all the time, after VietNam. Years ago I had a friend who freaked out in Central Park, shoved me to the ground, and made me lowcrawl through the brush back to Sheep Meadow. See, they were having the annual concert where they play the 1812 Overture with fireworks, and fireworks are essentially mortar rounds...

Every time I go to the VA hospital, there's a group rant about cutbacks. Seems ironic that they're creating a huge new class of veterans who will need more services than ever, just as they're threatening to phase out the VA hospital system!

As to not knowing what to say -- well, there's nothing to say. There's nothing to think. That's where the "thousand-yard stare" comes in.

You Guards and Reserves should plan to stick together when you get home. Big talk will be talked and "action news" reporters will be all over the case like it was Katrina, but when it comes to it, you will only have each other, and most of the males will be completely insane.

Sorry to be so jolly. I owe you a beer.
trinker From: trinker Date: October 30th, 2005 08:36 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I have been wanting to stop everyone I see around me with those insipid yellow "Support Our Troops" car magnets to ask them what they have actually *done* to be supportive.

If I had my druthers, there'd be a matching dollar earmarked...no, actually set aside...to be spent on aftercare for the troops for every dollar spent over there right now.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 31st, 2005 12:34 am (UTC) (base camp)
Hoo. Rah.
spunkywulf From: spunkywulf Date: October 31st, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC) (base camp)
I'm really sorry to hear about what happened to your colleague. That's terrifying and scary to know, though seemingly unavoidable in such a place. I hope you and your comrades are doing alright during this. And very well spoken on the need for help for healing soldiers who return home after harrowing experiences overseas :/
was1 From: was1 Date: November 1st, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC) (base camp)
10 trips or shoot the rapids