Friday, September 29, 2006

The Forgotten

        I served in the Army from 1996 to 2000.  Unless you went to Bosnia, which I did not, actual deployments did not happen.  This was piece time.  I did serve in Korea, but the fact that they are technically still at war is not the same as an actual combat deployment.  I entered and exited the Army in a time of relative peace. 

        Flash forward to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and then the invasion of Iraq in .  Most of the people I served with are still there, my friends, my brothers.  The time of peace that we shared is over, people are dying, and I felt guilty. 

        I would search the news reports daily to make sure that no one that I knew was killed. I wanted to be there.  Not because I was heroic, and not to defend my country, but because I knew that those guys depended upon me once and now the position I once filled was being filled by someone not as well trained. 

        Overlook the fact that the person was probably trained just as well as I was.  Overlook the fact that in the amount of time since I left, the platoon I was in would have shifted and I may not even recognize half of the soldier anymore.  I wasn't being rational.  I still had a sense of duty to the people I had worked with.  Thank God I never saw a name I recognized. 

        This is common in soldiers who separate from the armed service.  It is stressful for them to know that their unit is in harms way and they are not going with them.  We think, "I could be the difference.  Maybe I would see that IED that others would miss."  They may not have wanted to be in the military anymore, but they feel responsible for the lives of their brothers still.

        Parents, wives, husbands, and other family members have it a lot easier.  They only have to worry about their son/daughter or husband/wife.  The separated soldier has their old platoon, the people they went to basic/AIT with, Jones from Charlie company, Miller who got promoted and stationed elsewhere, Smitty, the guy in the other battalion that they played B-ball with, and etc.  I imagine the higher the rank the higher the anxiety.  Sgt. Anderson probably wonders if he trained his soldiers well enough, if he taught them a lesson that would safe their life. 

        The soldiers that are there need our support. The injured need our shoulder to lean on.  The parents of the fallen need our heartfelt sympathy.  But, don't forget the separated soldier.  He doesn't need much, maybe just a clap on the back and "how you doing." but he does not deserve to be pushed aside.  Biological brothers are mentioned in obituaries, fraternal ones seldom get that acknowledgement. 


Jody said...

I can only imagine what that feeling is like. I've been a part of larger groups where I could have considered the people family and separating from them was one of the hardest decisions of my life, because you know that you perform a certain task well, and that you help make the group what it is. When that is over you want to go on believing that it will remain the same always, with no variation or danger or shifting. I've met several guys who have come back from actual combat, and they don't talk much, but who else can they talk to but their 'brothers' in combat? It must be a very isolating feeling.

Spitfire said...

good job budd, I emailed you the link.