After leaving the army in 2010, I headed to journalism school in Austin. There, I couldn’t get enough of cycling around in the Texas sunshine, my military uniform replaced by shorts, T-Shirt, flip-flops, and a new life of easygoing abandon. That said, if I came to a halt behind a bus or a truck, I couldn’t resist inhaling the exhaust fumes. The delicious smell reminded me of Delta-30 turning over its engines as it idled on the tank park.
Other times, I’d find myself waiting in the cycle lane at the traffic lights opposite an enormous truck driven by a grinning frat boy joshing with his friends as loud music spilled out. I wanted to shout over the din: hey, tough guy! You think that’s a set of wheels—I used to command a f**king 72-ton tank!
It’s strange what a relationship with a main battle tank leaves behind, even if it seems now like part of a different life. It continues to prove hard to let go of.
And it isn’t helped by how I can’t seem to escape running into other veterans. One was parked outside the same laundromat I was at the other day, in the van he shares with his girlfriend criss-crossing the country, living off his Veterans Affairs benefits for his injuries and his PTSD. Lately I’ve even found myself bumping into Iraqis: I spoke to four of them in one day the other week.
These encounters with refugees proved particularly timely. Shortly beforehand, I read a Twitter post by a commentator addressing America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan and how to evaluate its terrible legacy:
!!!! omg i have an idea !!!!!
I know it’s crazy…. But….What if we actually heard from the Afghan people?
In the same post, she quoted a paragraph from an article featured on the Defense One website, entitled, “Who Gets To Tell the Story of the Afghanistan War?”:
Is it angry veterans and war-weary journalists? Is it Pentagon public relations pros, putting the spin on the best story they can for Washington politics and the public? Is it the ground troops and their families who led their men and women through combat, took terrain, won hearts and minds, killed the enemy, and then came home to heroically save each other once again, yet this time from their demons? Is it the Hollywood movies that don’t get the story quite right? Is it the 4-star generals who still methodically and earnestly warn politicians and the public that this war, like all of the United States’ contemporary missions against worldwide violent extremism, will be messy, complicated, and take much longer than 18 years to win? Is it American voters?
Those are some salient points. But I can’t get behind the seemingly dismissive tone regarding “angry veterans” (I think many are just terribly sad) who “came home to heroically save each other once again, yet this time from their demons,” as well as the inference that these stories might be less valid.
For one, it doesn’t appear that the saving is getting the …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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