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AN EXCERPT FROM
THE SOUNDS OF FURY
“INCOMING! EVERYONE STAY THE HELL INSIDE, STAY AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS, TAKE COVER, INCOMING!”
The whole sky started falling in on our heads as we dove for whatever cover we could find, either inside the half-finished brick house that made up our patrol base or outside, next to sandbags or concrete fixtures. We were hoping and praying that the next one wouldn’t draw a bead on the cover we decided to take as our asylum. I sat there for a few seconds with the world spinning on its head as I choked on chalk-like dust and tried to gather my hearing after the blasts. Wearing only shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops, the ensuing chaos erupted into a battle charge to throw on flak vests, Kevlar helmets and boots, followed by grabbing rifles and radios. The squad leaders still inside were sending Marines up on the rooftop to plus-up the augmented positions (positions only manned in combat situations). As I awaited placement on the rooftop our Lieutenant came rushing through the doorway with blood on his helmet and face. All I remember was a Marine asking our Lieutenant if we had casualties outside and how many, to which our Lieutenant responded with, “Yes, it’s a mess, everybody’s hit.”
The symptoms associated with PTSD are vast and varied. They can be anywhere from intrusive/unwanted memories, avoidance of the subject, hopelessness, changes in emotional reactions like irritability, aggressiveness or depression and even overwhelming shame or guilt. Many of the symptoms aren't visible at first, but later manifest into visible symptoms like alcohol and prescription drug dependency. Generally, you will not find us digging a chest deep fighting hole in the front yard while wearing dog tags as Hollywood would have you believe.
AN EXCERPT FROM
WE'RE NOT VICTIMS
A soldier, who may be 18 years old, must not only constantly fear for what waits on the other side of that hill or just inside the next door, but also is in constant fear of what the legal ramifications will be once they return home. This has led to a very popular saying in the military…
“I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6.”
As a society, how can we blur the lines of operational responsibilities, train someone to operate in a warzone for the accomplishment of the mission, then hold a microscope to see how they handle every decision they are placed in? These soldiers do not often get the privilege of being able to analyze a situation and say that they may face legal dilemmas if they were to take on a given mission. Instead they are thrust into situations and asked many times to risk their lives while having to constantly fear life in prison, or worse for one wrong move. These soldiers are not being put into calm environments where there is time to analyze and process things for long periods of time, but rather the boundaries of these encounters are marked by violence and the immanence of deadly force being used against them.
We, as a nation, ask service members to put their lives on the line to go to war where they take all the risks and get to participate in none of the decision making. We should not add the responsibility and fear of legal litigation over every single action. Unfortunately, violence is a factor of war and if the use of violence is considered inappropriate in specific areas for whatever reason then maybe there needs to be some reconsideration as to the necessity of war. The men and women who fight and die for this country should not have the added stress of prosecution.