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When the Music Stops

“I want to be dead with my friends….where the iron sharpens the iron.”-Every Time I Die

I am bearing witness to the end of an era. I have the distinct blessing, or the agonizing misfortune of having front-row seats to the death throes of a creature that has defined a generation. This creature is what my buddies and I refer to as the Global War On Terror (GWOT for short). 13 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and two presidents later, those of us who contributed our very being to this endeavor are left thinking, “What now?”

On May 23, 2013, POTUS Obama declared the GWOT “over.” Just like that. Done. Finished. It felt to my brothers and I, that our purpose in life had just disappeared.

Of course, we knew that there are still things going on in the shadows of foreign policy. Smelly, bearded extremists are still getting shot in the face in far-off lands. But, to the majority of us who had spent our entire adult lives finding, fixing, and finishing, our jobs were apparently over. We had sacrificed marriages, seeing our kids grow up,  watching our parents grow old, witnessed our brothers deaths, and lost limbs for a conflict that we didn’t start, but were damn sure going to finish. We had been involved so long that it became us. Sure, some of us got out and made strides in veteran’s advocacy, tactical efficiency and efficacy, community growth, technological advancements, and improving quality of life for the layperson at home (i.e. the Perfect Push-Up). This writing is not for them. This is talking about the guy that has cut his teeth and dodged bullets since he was 18 years old and now has to try to find a place in this world….a world without the GWOT.

A friend of mine once said, “PTSD is the realization that you will never be this cool again.” He was referring to being on deployment, toting guns, and generally being a hard-ass. He was kind of correct. Once you wash the dirt and grit off and put on a clean shirt, you’re out of place in the civilian world. No one gets your jokes. Everyone wonders why you’re so insensitive to the plights of celebrities and pro-ball players. People view you as a victim, someone that somehow got duped into joining the military and marching off to fight, only to come home with less friends and more nightmares. You go to work at your job thinking that whatever you do today will never matter as much as what you did over there. You will never work as hard in this cubicle, office, ambulance, bank, or courthouse, as you did in the killing fields. You have this little voice in the back of your head whispering, “You will never feel more alive. It doesn’t get any better than those days.” Sadly enough, a lot of veterans are heeding this voice and going home and killing themselves, either with a gun or with heroin and Hennessy. The suicide rate is an epidemic and the VA is a joke. Personally, in my non-solicited and ultimately meaningless opinion, I think this is largely due to the fact that a guy went over and put in work, to come home to a government that doesn’t support him, and a public that doesn’t appreciate him. We live in a society that puts more effort and emphasis on Justin-fucking-Bieber than their neighbor who lost his legs in Ramadi. It doesn’t feel good when the media is more ablaze in memoriam for a celebrity that OD’d on the shitter than Chris Kyle or more recently, Aaron Torian. It stings a little when the Commander in Chief makes more phone calls to his travel agent and “brave” basketball players than to the widows of the fallen. Bottom line: empty thanks and the obvious look of pity don’t do much for a guy that feels lost at home without his brothers or people that REALLY care. But, I digress.


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The last troops in Iraq left with little fanfare. Under the guidance of an apologetic administration, they left that country with their ears back and their tails tucked. To the guys at home at the time, they could no longer point at the TV and say, “I was there.” Afghanistan seems to be heading the same direction. One big-ass circle. The Taliban are seizing ground again, poised to take power, and the troops (from MY vantage point) are just hanging out in the FOB’s eating Burger King and biding their time, and why shouldn’t they? Our strategy in this country has been telescoped so far that the enemy knows when we’re going home! Why go out and put foot to ass when the shot-clock is down to the final second? No one is truly invested in the war. Again, my opinion. Hell, a staggering amount of troops here were 9-10 years old on 9/11/2001! It wasn’t even a “real” event to them, but rather an occurrence, handed down to them by parents and teachers and history books. They have no clue why they’re here. The commands don’t seem to give a fuck about more than eye pro and glow belts. Karaoke night is priority numero uno. The ROE’s have been so neutered that they’ve become a detriment to the troops. Everyone is concerned about packing their shit and shipping out.

But, there are those of us that still feel we have more to contribute. There are those of us who aren’t meant for a desk. There are men in this world still willing to go out there, for whatever reason, and skull-fuck the enemies of the USA. But, is there really a place for us any more?

Some of us went back into the military, but are hitting the roadblocks associated with a large military drawdown. Some of us tried serving our communities, I myself became a paramedic, but grew bored rather quickly. Some of us went the PMC route, which is perfect to an extent. I get to tote guns and hang with the boys and count racks of cash. But, that world is dying down as well. My question is: “where do we go when the world no longer needs us?” What happens when the reason you got out of bed every morning for 12-13 years, isn’t there anymore? Especially when you know that the whole game was mishandled. It’s hard as fuck sitting back and watching the talking heads talk about the “mistakes” and the “futility” and asking “was it worth it?” when you have had to bury more friends than most people know their entire lives. It’s very sobering to think to yourself, “MY war is over.”

Maybe it’s the way it goes. Maybe, those of us that still have more to give, are destined to sit on porch in a rocking chair or a bar stool at the VFW and talk about the “good ol’ days” with our buddies. My fear is maybe we’re going the way of Gran Tourino. As much of a badass as Clint Eastwood’s character was in that movie, he was still a sad, bitter, old man. Another movie reference is the grocery store scene in “The Hurt Locker” (regardless of the movie, that scene was powerful).

My other fear is that the world will bury what we’ve done. The history books will refer to our endeavors the way I learned about Vietnam. The story I was told by my teachers was wildly different than the stories my father shared. His wasn’t stories of mistakes, his was a story of brotherhood and sacrifice. Thus is the divide in my generation. My brothers and I tell stories with passion and pride, and my non-serving peers think: what a waste of a life. It may have been a waste, time will tell, but it was a glorious waste. I “wasted” my life seeing the very best of a generation of MEN stand up and go do what was asked of them. I “wasted” my life in third-world shit-holes, knowing my brothers cared more about me than the girl at home. I “wasted” my life watching guys risk and give their lives for one another. I would not ask to “waste” my life any other way. I will also do it as long as I can. My only question, echoed by thousands of GWOT vets is: “what now?”

-Grifter

Comments (505)

  1. Thank you for this. I was in 8th grade when the GWOT started. I didn’t think I’d make it to Afghan, I was willing to go to Iraq but never made it there. I went to Afghan with 1/2 in 2009. It always felt like this would last longer, like it was a way of life for our military. If you joined the infantry, you either went to Afghan or a MEU. This brings the withdrawal into perspective. It’s quite heart breaking and I hope all goes well for Combat Vets in all branches.

  2. As someone who got out during his last deployment a few years ago, this feeling is something I’ve thought of for a while. As I’ve attempted suicide several times and been in a behavior health hospital more than I’d like to admit, I feel like a failure. On one side, I left when the job wasn’t finished and on the other, I wasn’t successful in even ending my life. Further, you’re right that the VA is ill-equipped and there are numerous things I could say about my experiences but that’s another time. Now, I work in corporate America and make a very comfortable living while trying to help various active and veteran organizations, yet I just feel like I’m going through the motions and nothing matters. I feel like my military time may have been the height of my life and everything else is just filler.//For those who may read this and interpret as suicidal, no I’m not. As a realist though, I can’t definitively state that this isn’t a reason for when I go. Everyone needs a purpose. I don’t know what mine is.

    1. Brother…you are helping your brothers. That, I believe, is the next mission. We have to get word to those that hold the seats of power that there is a generation of men who have been done a great disservice by them and we will not sit quietly and collect our VA checks. We will stand up and be counted, not ignored, and not devalued. We HAVE to make the country see that we have sacrificed for it. Someday, I envision an America where the public loves its warriors as much as it loves their celebrities.

  3. Awesome! Just awesome. A lot of that is so familiar from what my old man told me when he came back to New Zealand from Vietnam. I hold soldiers in the highest esteem…worldwide. What they do cannot be equalled. Period! Thank you.

  4. There will always be a place for warriors. War never ends, and neither do heroes. But societies as cowardly as ours has become do tend to come to an end. No one can deny their lifeblood and still live. No one can second-guess themselves every moment and expect to lead the world with confidence. That’s why one day, I firmly believe most of us will end up on the battlefield. And we’ll be looking to you all for guidance and support. Brotherhood and sacrifice are what life’s truly about, after all. There’s really not much else that’s truly meaningful.

  5. No worries, we will find another conflict to up our budget. My guess is that it will not nice warm beach either… I do like the piece a lot!

  6. I wish I could write something novel as a way to express my appreciation for every sacrifice you and the rest of the military personnel have made for non-serving civilians like me. I cant begin to comprehend what you go through on a regular basis but I can promise you that it is not lost on all of us. It is my hope that more civilians like me read your words and find ways to reach out and help those that served. That they take the extra time to thank our soldiers. Aaron Torian was my friend and I miss him dearly. The last three weeks have been impossible to rationalize but I know he gave his life doing something he believed in and served with honor, passion and pride. He was a badass mfer. Stories to my kids, friends and family will always be from that perspective. Thank you for your service, for keeping us safe and for sharing your words. You, Aaron and the rest of the military are my herosthat will never change!

  7. You are not the first – read Zane Grey’s "Day of the Beast". Not his best, but it’s that same feeling.

  8. It truly is this administration, OBAMA, our media, and a generation duped by him that does not appreciate our military or our veterans’ sacrifices, or even understand the necessity and importance of our military. We’ve been through this before with Vietnam, etc. Our media is very damaging and does not reflect reality. The American general public supports and appreciates our military, evidenced EVERY DAY, if you are paying attention, with NO media coverage, when a plane full of people clap for military passengers, stop in stores, the airport, restaurants to publicly thank uniformed military, pay for uniformed military members meals, and military appreciation FB posts go viral! It’s OBAMA, his administration and the MEDIA doing this damage! We love and completely support our military….it just never gets publicized!! The majority need to stop being complacent and vote. I am saying this because your life was not "wasted." Never. God has a plan and purpose. You would not be who you are if not for that experience, and perhaps not be able to achieve the amazing things you will achieve. Speaking not just to my amazing veteran son, but all of our incredible veterans.

    1. Was it Obama, his administration or the Media who defeated a bill in the senate to increase Veterans benifits last week? None of the above??? It was our Congress that voted that bill down. Who did you vote for and what was their stance on a bill that would have show support for the military? What are you going to do about it?

  9. Perfect. I was in Baghdad way back in OIF05-07 when it seemed like the whole fucking world was opening up to swallow us whole. I think about it every day. Every. Single. Day. It’s a rucksack that I can’t put down, and it gets heavier by the minute. But you have to drive on. I feel blessed that I have all my limbs, and most of my wits. I’ve been fortunate to get out, get a good wife, and a good job. But I think those things happened because I took the shit I learned in combat: never give up, always drive forward, look out for your buddy before yourself and I applied it to my civilian life. The demons are still there, and they’re not leaving soon, I just have to stay one step ahead.

  10. They do not understand and they will not understand. Get over it. Since when did it matter what other people think? You know where you went, what you did, why it matters and what it cost. And I know. In the future, when the need arises, you will wonder, "Can I do it again?" You will ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" For some it will be "yes!", for others "no". Most people around you will not comprehend the conflict; most people do not understand. Exactly because they don’t understand, their opinion doesn’t matter. Ignore them. Those people do not define or decide who you are or what is right in the world. My day is past. I can’t do it any more. I’m just too old, fat, slow, and ugly. Over the last 13 years I watched with wonder, admiration, and envy as you guys and gals put your asses on the line, took the knocks and got it done. Every success belongs to you and we all know who owns the failures. Stop worrying about what other people think. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. The future is uncertain. Nobody should ever have to pay the price that you paid. You need to make sure that there is a generation who will take a step forward, hold up their right hand, swear the oath, pick up a rifle and get it done. That is your job. Don’t screw it up.

  11. "There are men in this world still willing to go out there, for whatever reason, and skull-fuck the enemies of the USA. But, is there really a place for us any more?" This is me pursuing law enforcement. I feel there is nothing in this world to make me feel like I did when I was deployed. And Im Pretty sure LE is the next best thing.

    1. Please, don’t. The American citizens are not the Taliban, they don’t need to be skull-fucked by your any other cop. I appreciate your service and your sacrifice, but somehow I don’t think you’ll make a very good cop if all you want out of it is to bash heads, kill people, and feel like you’re in a warzone.

      1. Jim, good job being the way that you are, the kind that never understands what people is saying. If that is what you gathered from Alfonso’s post, there is no wonder why this country is the way it is. What he said was, since he can no longer do that, he has turned to LE to help feel the void. However Jim, I feel I just wasted my breath trying to set someone who is illiterate strait.

        1. That awkward moment when you deem someone illiterate and then find a grammatical error in your comment…

          1. That awkward moment when everyone is dumb as fuck because obviously none of us are illiterate.

        2. So many errors in this post, yet I’m illiterate? Nice try. Please, read his post again. I clearly understood him, I think it’s you who don’t get what he’s saying. Becoming a cop shouldn’t be anything like being a soldier. Sadly, it’s getting to be that way in our country. I wonder if attitudes like the original poster, that being a cop is the next best thing to being a soldier, is to blame.

      2. Maybe you should read a little closer. It says skull fuck the enemies of the USA. Not skull fuck American citizens.

  12. Exemplifies how a small part of the population a country can be at war and how America is not. No victory gardens, no metal drives, no rationing, no draft, the country doesn’t even acknowledge the passing of a Service Member. If someone in the media dies on the battlefield, the world mourns. I am, and always have been disgusted at the academics that I encountered as a young man, who felt they did something honorable by speaking out against a war they did not believe in, but avoided by staying in college long enough to teach there. The country has lost its identity despite the moral struggle Soldiers, Marines, Corpsmen, SEALS, ARSOF Airmen, and those who risk their lives from the services and Intelligence community fight without them knowing. We don’t need to be home all the time, someone has to do what is right because there is a shortage of Americans who will.

  13. you made me cry….I lived through the Vietnam fiasco, my brother maimed in the war, people I knew died. I lived through constant stories from my father about his time in WW2, but I never understood how desperately he was emotionally damaged until I was in my 40s. War is terrible. It cuts you in ways ordinary people cannot comprehend. When you are fighting for your life and the life of your brothers around you, there is nothing in a ‘normal’ life that can touch that level of commitment. I pray that Grifter finds peace in his new life. I say to you….start hang-gliding…the adrenalin rush will renew your passion for life. Thank you for serving with honor for me and everyone in America.

  14. Blame blind cutbacks for the sake of cutback and a general hatred of the military. The post conflict arrangements with Iraq and Afghanistan have been deals that they couldn’t possibly take – and deliberately so. If you’re going to emulate a European welfare state, item #1 on the agenda is slashing the military to non-existence (like the UK unable to field a combat brigade now). Good thing that Putin isn’t watching too close…

  15. Your efforts in preserving the American Constitution will never be forgotten as long as their are true patriots of our home land. Your knowledge and expertise is needed even more today, right here on the home front doorsteps, my Brothers. The evil has infiltrated all parts of our government which stood so proudly for the citizens of this great country in the past. Our eyes are wide open and we are aware. We are forming militias, by the second, for the recovery of our life and pursuit of happiness that was once abundant.We will not go as sheep, and we will fight the un-believers of the one true God, until they are no more. You have sacrificed so much for us and we are ready in all the colors given to us by God to make a stand all across this country. In my America, my Heroes are Not Alone.

  16. I should have added that this article was very well written. You have an engaging writing style, Grifter. Keep it up. Who knows—maybe "what’s next" for you is a career in journalism. :)

  17. Brilliant. The nails head has been hit from my own growingly bitter POV. Im a Brit of two tours from 09 to 12 (formation recce and then Infantry) medically discharged last year with ptsd and I reckon most of my issues related to readjustment problems. Im almost 26, I joined at 16 after a commitment I made to myself on 9/11 from my cold home in Scotland, and I am now a gas engineer spending each day actively trying to convince myself that my new life satisfies me, when this is a lie and trying not to punch arrogant wealthy civilians. I am fortunate enough to have good friends on "the circuit" in Iraq and South africa who have offered me opportunity in the pmc world but I have tied myself to the mundane life "for the kids". I train hard to try and compensate but nope, nothing replaces the care free life of waking up with your brothers at 0400 in some shite PB in Babaji for an op behind the FLET. No bills, no bullshiters or posers, no arseholes. You do your job, enjoy it, you are respected for your actions an that respect still holds long after you RTB. I feel like a retired football player nobody recognises. Gone from instant respect and brotherhood, having a single purpose every single day, a noble, politics free, kill or be killed existence, to a grey man nobody gives a fuck about or understands. No wonder the suicide rate is up in both the US and here. Tis a shame that so few actually give a fuck. As long as the room full of powerful, spineless, rich individuals are lining their nests its fine. They may be rich and powerful but they dont have the backup we do guys, and their life experience pales into fuck all in comparison. Which flea infested, IDF heavy compound was Obama in again for months? Did he ever witness the longest range sniper kill in history whilst being smashed by a PKM? He is a poorer man than I brothers!

  18. If I may offer my own opinion for whomever to view and naw on; The problem with the returning service members and the country that rejects them is not that the populous chooses not to care or that politicians that refuse to support him. No, that not how I see it. While I will agree the politicians requirements to Vets are far from being filled, they are urged by the people and the people are confused. Americans want a hero like their grandfathers, the WWII Vets. A hero who only longs to return home to attend school and raise a family. The Warrior Ethos the military has created resulted in a paradoxical shift. We now have Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers who thrive on deployments and volunteer for them the primary premise of simply going back. Our Grandfathers did not want to be life-long fighters, they wanted to push back the near enemy (the enemy that was visible to the entire world) and rejoin whatever life they had envisioned. For many of us we chose to continue because we had/have the ability to look forward and know that we and we alone can be the panacea for terrorism. We chose to fight the far enemy and this led many of us to be vastly different from the previous generations. This gap is what confuses Americans and makes them view us as victims. They think we were forced to fight to far enemy while not realizing the toll we pay. And if this is to be our future more must be done. We reach an opportunity, this juxtaposition; continue with the norm or create a better organization to assist those who fight the good fight. Those who wage war on a daily basis with the demons in their heads. We are anew and we must solve our own problems. Who better to understand us than those who stood beside us?

  19. You just captured what I have tried to tell every non-serving peer I come across….all I get is blank stares. One once told me I’d "never had a real job". I’d give my left nut to have my "not real job back"…as well as so many of my (and our) fallen brothers back. I am my brothers keeper.Smith Sends.Iraq: 2003,2005,2006,2009Afghan: 2004, 2009, 2010

  20. dog redWelcome home and god bless you. All still in country be safe and god bless you. You all are the greatest!

  21. Great read, really hits home. Sucks coming back from deployment missing your fallen, other brothers PCS or ETS before you know it your all alone…

  22. Thank you for this. I was in 8th grade when the GWOT started. I didn’t think I’d make it to Afghan, I was willing to go to Iraq but never made it there. I went to Afghan with 1/2 in 2009. It always felt like this would last longer, like it was a way of life for our military. If you joined the infantry, you either went to Afghan or a MEU. This brings the withdrawal into perspective. It’s quite heart breaking and I hope all goes well for Combat Vets in all branches.

  23. As someone who got out during his last deployment a few years ago, this feeling is something I’ve thought of for a while. As I’ve attempted suicide several times and been in a behavior health hospital more than I’d like to admit, I feel like a failure. On one side, I left when the job wasn’t finished and on the other, I wasn’t successful in even ending my life. Further, you’re right that the VA is ill-equipped and there are numerous things I could say about my experiences but that’s another time. Now, I work in corporate America and make a very comfortable living while trying to help various active and veteran organizations, yet I just feel like I’m going through the motions and nothing matters. I feel like my military time may have been the height of my life and everything else is just filler.//For those who may read this and interpret as suicidal, no I’m not. As a realist though, I can’t definitively state that this isn’t a reason for when I go. Everyone needs a purpose. I don’t know what mine is.

  24. Awesome! Just awesome. A lot of that is so familiar from what my old man told me when he came back to New Zealand from Vietnam. I hold soldiers in the highest esteem…worldwide. What they do cannot be equalled. Period! Thank you.

  25. There will always be a place for warriors. War never ends, and neither do heroes. But societies as cowardly as ours has become do tend to come to an end. No one can deny their lifeblood and still live. No one can second-guess themselves every moment and expect to lead the world with confidence. That’s why one day, I firmly believe most of us will end up on the battlefield. And we’ll be looking to you all for guidance and support. Brotherhood and sacrifice are what life’s truly about, after all. There’s really not much else that’s truly meaningful.

  26. No worries, we will find another conflict to up our budget. My guess is that it will not nice warm beach either… I do like the piece a lot!

  27. I wish I could write something novel as a way to express my appreciation for every sacrifice you and the rest of the military personnel have made for non-serving civilians like me. I cant begin to comprehend what you go through on a regular basis but I can promise you that it is not lost on all of us. It is my hope that more civilians like me read your words and find ways to reach out and help those that served. That they take the extra time to thank our soldiers. Aaron Torian was my friend and I miss him dearly. The last three weeks have been impossible to rationalize but I know he gave his life doing something he believed in and served with honor, passion and pride. He was a badass mfer. Stories to my kids, friends and family will always be from that perspective. Thank you for your service, for keeping us safe and for sharing your words. You, Aaron and the rest of the military are my herosthat will never change!

  28. You are not the first – read Zane Grey’s "Day of the Beast". Not his best, but it’s that same feeling.

  29. It truly is this administration, OBAMA, our media, and a generation duped by him that does not appreciate our military or our veterans’ sacrifices, or even understand the necessity and importance of our military. We’ve been through this before with Vietnam, etc. Our media is very damaging and does not reflect reality. The American general public supports and appreciates our military, evidenced EVERY DAY, if you are paying attention, with NO media coverage, when a plane full of people clap for military passengers, stop in stores, the airport, restaurants to publicly thank uniformed military, pay for uniformed military members meals, and military appreciation FB posts go viral! It’s OBAMA, his administration and the MEDIA doing this damage! We love and completely support our military….it just never gets publicized!! The majority need to stop being complacent and vote. I am saying this because your life was not "wasted." Never. God has a plan and purpose. You would not be who you are if not for that experience, and perhaps not be able to achieve the amazing things you will achieve. Speaking not just to my amazing veteran son, but all of our incredible veterans.

  30. Perfect. I was in Baghdad way back in OIF05-07 when it seemed like the whole fucking world was opening up to swallow us whole. I think about it every day. Every. Single. Day. It’s a rucksack that I can’t put down, and it gets heavier by the minute. But you have to drive on. I feel blessed that I have all my limbs, and most of my wits. I’ve been fortunate to get out, get a good wife, and a good job. But I think those things happened because I took the shit I learned in combat: never give up, always drive forward, look out for your buddy before yourself and I applied it to my civilian life. The demons are still there, and they’re not leaving soon, I just have to stay one step ahead.

  31. They do not understand and they will not understand. Get over it. Since when did it matter what other people think? You know where you went, what you did, why it matters and what it cost. And I know. In the future, when the need arises, you will wonder, "Can I do it again?" You will ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" For some it will be "yes!", for others "no". Most people around you will not comprehend the conflict; most people do not understand. Exactly because they don’t understand, their opinion doesn’t matter. Ignore them. Those people do not define or decide who you are or what is right in the world. My day is past. I can’t do it any more. I’m just too old, fat, slow, and ugly. Over the last 13 years I watched with wonder, admiration, and envy as you guys and gals put your asses on the line, took the knocks and got it done. Every success belongs to you and we all know who owns the failures. Stop worrying about what other people think. Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. The future is uncertain. Nobody should ever have to pay the price that you paid. You need to make sure that there is a generation who will take a step forward, hold up their right hand, swear the oath, pick up a rifle and get it done. That is your job. Don’t screw it up.

  32. "There are men in this world still willing to go out there, for whatever reason, and skull-fuck the enemies of the USA. But, is there really a place for us any more?" This is me pursuing law enforcement. I feel there is nothing in this world to make me feel like I did when I was deployed. And Im Pretty sure LE is the next best thing.

    1. Please, don’t. The American citizens are not the Taliban, they don’t need to be skull-fucked by your any other cop. I appreciate your service and your sacrifice, but somehow I don’t think you’ll make a very good cop if all you want out of it is to bash heads, kill people, and feel like you’re in a warzone.

  33. Exemplifies how a small part of the population a country can be at war and how America is not. No victory gardens, no metal drives, no rationing, no draft, the country doesn’t even acknowledge the passing of a Service Member. If someone in the media dies on the battlefield, the world mourns. I am, and always have been disgusted at the academics that I encountered as a young man, who felt they did something honorable by speaking out against a war they did not believe in, but avoided by staying in college long enough to teach there. The country has lost its identity despite the moral struggle Soldiers, Marines, Corpsmen, SEALS, ARSOF Airmen, and those who risk their lives from the services and Intelligence community fight without them knowing. We don’t need to be home all the time, someone has to do what is right because there is a shortage of Americans who will.

  34. you made me cry….I lived through the Vietnam fiasco, my brother maimed in the war, people I knew died. I lived through constant stories from my father about his time in WW2, but I never understood how desperately he was emotionally damaged until I was in my 40s. War is terrible. It cuts you in ways ordinary people cannot comprehend. When you are fighting for your life and the life of your brothers around you, there is nothing in a ‘normal’ life that can touch that level of commitment. I pray that Grifter finds peace in his new life. I say to you….start hang-gliding…the adrenalin rush will renew your passion for life. Thank you for serving with honor for me and everyone in America.

  35. Blame blind cutbacks for the sake of cutback and a general hatred of the military. The post conflict arrangements with Iraq and Afghanistan have been deals that they couldn’t possibly take – and deliberately so. If you’re going to emulate a European welfare state, item #1 on the agenda is slashing the military to non-existence (like the UK unable to field a combat brigade now). Good thing that Putin isn’t watching too close…

  36. Your efforts in preserving the American Constitution will never be forgotten as long as their are true patriots of our home land. Your knowledge and expertise is needed even more today, right here on the home front doorsteps, my Brothers. The evil has infiltrated all parts of our government which stood so proudly for the citizens of this great country in the past. Our eyes are wide open and we are aware. We are forming militias, by the second, for the recovery of our life and pursuit of happiness that was once abundant.We will not go as sheep, and we will fight the un-believers of the one true God, until they are no more. You have sacrificed so much for us and we are ready in all the colors given to us by God to make a stand all across this country. In my America, my Heroes are Not Alone.

  37. I should have added that this article was very well written. You have an engaging writing style, Grifter. Keep it up. Who knows—maybe "what’s next" for you is a career in journalism. :)

  38. Brilliant. The nails head has been hit from my own growingly bitter POV. Im a Brit of two tours from 09 to 12 (formation recce and then Infantry) medically discharged last year with ptsd and I reckon most of my issues related to readjustment problems. Im almost 26, I joined at 16 after a commitment I made to myself on 9/11 from my cold home in Scotland, and I am now a gas engineer spending each day actively trying to convince myself that my new life satisfies me, when this is a lie and trying not to punch arrogant wealthy civilians. I am fortunate enough to have good friends on "the circuit" in Iraq and South africa who have offered me opportunity in the pmc world but I have tied myself to the mundane life "for the kids". I train hard to try and compensate but nope, nothing replaces the care free life of waking up with your brothers at 0400 in some shite PB in Babaji for an op behind the FLET. No bills, no bullshiters or posers, no arseholes. You do your job, enjoy it, you are respected for your actions an that respect still holds long after you RTB. I feel like a retired football player nobody recognises. Gone from instant respect and brotherhood, having a single purpose every single day, a noble, politics free, kill or be killed existence, to a grey man nobody gives a fuck about or understands. No wonder the suicide rate is up in both the US and here. Tis a shame that so few actually give a fuck. As long as the room full of powerful, spineless, rich individuals are lining their nests its fine. They may be rich and powerful but they dont have the backup we do guys, and their life experience pales into fuck all in comparison. Which flea infested, IDF heavy compound was Obama in again for months? Did he ever witness the longest range sniper kill in history whilst being smashed by a PKM? He is a poorer man than I brothers!

  39. If I may offer my own opinion for whomever to view and naw on; The problem with the returning service members and the country that rejects them is not that the populous chooses not to care or that politicians that refuse to support him. No, that not how I see it. While I will agree the politicians requirements to Vets are far from being filled, they are urged by the people and the people are confused. Americans want a hero like their grandfathers, the WWII Vets. A hero who only longs to return home to attend school and raise a family. The Warrior Ethos the military has created resulted in a paradoxical shift. We now have Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers who thrive on deployments and volunteer for them the primary premise of simply going back. Our Grandfathers did not want to be life-long fighters, they wanted to push back the near enemy (the enemy that was visible to the entire world) and rejoin whatever life they had envisioned. For many of us we chose to continue because we had/have the ability to look forward and know that we and we alone can be the panacea for terrorism. We chose to fight the far enemy and this led many of us to be vastly different from the previous generations. This gap is what confuses Americans and makes them view us as victims. They think we were forced to fight to far enemy while not realizing the toll we pay. And if this is to be our future more must be done. We reach an opportunity, this juxtaposition; continue with the norm or create a better organization to assist those who fight the good fight. Those who wage war on a daily basis with the demons in their heads. We are anew and we must solve our own problems. Who better to understand us than those who stood beside us?

  40. You just captured what I have tried to tell every non-serving peer I come across….all I get is blank stares. One once told me I’d "never had a real job". I’d give my left nut to have my "not real job back"…as well as so many of my (and our) fallen brothers back. I am my brothers keeper.Smith Sends.Iraq: 2003,2005,2006,2009Afghan: 2004, 2009, 2010

  41. dog redWelcome home and god bless you. All still in country be safe and god bless you. You all are the greatest!

  42. Great read, really hits home. Sucks coming back from deployment missing your fallen, other brothers PCS or ETS before you know it your all alone…

  43. You hit everything on the head dead on. I think the world will bury what we did and no one will understand what we did. To those of us who "wasted" our lives, we will know what we did, and it seems that each other are the only guys who will have each others six in the end.

  44. This is my new favorite page, everything I read resonates with me, I could post this on my FB page, few might relate, others will just scroll past it not knowing the things I/we have done and that feeling we once had.

  45. Exactly. My cousin is in jail now because he acted on his training as a paratrooper in the 82nd with 27months in Afghanistan. Please read his story and sign his petition to have the judge conduct a review of his case on Change. org by pasting this link into your browser: http://www.change.org/petitions/judge-wallace-cato-review-case-for-christopher-ryan-mitchell?shareid=CdITiCuMRi&utmcampaign=sharebuttonactionbox&utmmedium=facebook&utmsource=sharepetition

  46. This reminds me of my dad, he’s been in for 29 years. Active duty special forces. Been on 8 deployments, the gulf war and the war on terror. He’s retiring at the end of this year and as the days get closer he looks more and more like all he wants is to be back in the field. It’s all he’s ever known.But now that his time is done, it’s my turn to go in and earn my beret.

  47. My ex asked this of me a little over a week ago, the day before he attempted to take his own life… What now indeed?

  48. Awesome. I will say that we have no idea about not being appreciated compared to Vietnam and Korean War vets. We actually as a whole have it alright.

  49. Is it wrong to hope the next war hurries up and gets here? I’ve been saying it forever to myself and my brothers while lying to my family and civie friends: the truth is you don’t transition, you cope or you kill yourself. Its like being a grownup and living in high school again, dealing with everyone’s unimportant bullshit. Good write up.

  50. The highest honor, both pure and true. For so few to sacrifice so much, for those that can’t. That is the American way. Now if we can just rid ourselves of the Politicians…."Parasites on the ass of humanity".

  51. Couldn’t have said it better. Almost brought a damn tear to my eye. I keep saying that to myself every day "what now?"

  52. Gentlemen, Warriors, Brothers….you do have value…you do have a mission…ours is never ending. United we have a voice…I don’t believe in "suicidal" I believe in sheer will to get back on the horse and take the initiative your leaders kept harping on you to do while you gladly looked the other way nose turned up. Get out there…tell your stories….share your knowledge…impart your wisdom….but don’t ever sell yourself short and rob your self worth by saying you don’t know what your purpose is. Think about all your comrades who have lost limbs and still continue to fight…they fight because they took the initiative….no one told them how to do it….they reached down and grabbed a solid handful of balls and charged toward the objective! You say society is changed for the worse…….well unite and call out for change…redress our national values….redress our self worth…redress the fighting spirit of what it is to be a Bloody proud American! Don’t quit….Fight On! Accomplish the mission without being told how….just DO IT! RLTW! Scuba

  53. Let me start by saying that I am by far and away not an Operator. I was a Marine, went to Afg and Iraq. I have been out of the Corps for 3 years and gone to college in the most liberal school in my state. I have struggled with the exact thing you are talking about, "what now?"; I have come to a conclusion. We need to teach our sons, our nations sons, what it is to be men; As you said, "I wasted my life seeing the very best of a generation of MEN stand up and go do what was asked of them". "Men" have stood and done what was needed since the dawn of man. They will be needed again. We need to take our experience and mold those who may be called upon. As we have all witnessed, our nation is teaching the next generation that mediocrity is good. No one is better than anyone else, there are no winners and losers. We have witnessed how the world truly is, there are most definitely winners and losers, and there are assuredly people out there who are training to be better than us. There are few organizations and programs that promote being "Men". We need to change that, we need to provide an example to be emulated by our sons.

  54. I spent my entire adult life in unform since 17 1/2. I volunteered to go and changed MOS to do it. I’m 53 now. You said it all, all of it… I got nothing. I wish I could have done more, much more. Two deployments, wanted to go back. My brother and my nephews went. We all went that could from our family. My nephew is still in re-hab from wounds from over 15 months ago. He has PTSD bad, he lost his Platoon Sergeant and sqaud leader in one blow. I got allot of hate for allot of people, many of which are civlians, the Commanders and the incompetent idiots who thought they were doing the right thing… Fxxk it!

  55. I remember a line from some movie; "don’t talk bad about this war, its the only one we got!"

  56. Eat, fuck, live…make babies and teach them what you wished you knew, not what you learned. If you can’t do that then find someone to mentor. There are plenty of fights out there to be had, make shit better where you can. I think this is just halftime.

  57. What a great f@cking piece, man. I did the same, 8 years in the corps, 2 years pmc, now I’m at home going to school trying to "better" myself, knowing that nothing I do with my life beyond this point will ever mean more than what I have already done. Thank you for putting my thoughts down on paper. My war is over.. Now what?

  58. I am a USN veteran with PTSD, an Intensive Care Paramedic and a Contractor. I’m currently assigned in one of those "third-world shitholes" and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, maybe I’d give up the PTSD (in a heartbeat!!!) but I EARNED it… And I still do. Every day of my life. Thanks for telling my story in a way that I never could, brother.

  59. Fantastic description of the truth of our war and struggles to follow, it is the same for your UK brothers. Redundant of our efforts, Tigers Caged and poked by the goading mother fuckers that stole our Jungle.

  60. This is some powerful shit. I wasnt a part of oef but i was oif1 and i totally understand. When its over and youre out you start to wonder whats next? The VA tries to ply you with pillls and tell you its gonna be ok while fucking you on your claims to keep overhead as low as possible. I havent talked to friends i grew up with in forever because i feel we have nothing in common anymore . I cant hang with them and be like..hey remember that time on route irish when that vbied went off early and we all nearly shit ourselves….they dont get it…..my friends bow are my brothers i served with and a few older vets at work.

  61. I think what you have here is a calling… it’s a calling to everyone that said fuck it. That took that chance and signed the dotted fucking line. Who had balls and still has balls. What we’ve all learned in the past 13+ years is we weren’t pussies. We answered a call when the Captain of the Football team didn’t(unless of course you were him). When that dude who always tells you stories at the bar that he wanted to sign up but the recruiter wouldn’t(yeah ok pussie keep telling yourself that) let him. You all know that guy! The I would of…or the I should of guy… well we’re not him. We all share a bond that runs deep, real deep. You feel that bond when you’re at a sporting event and they play the national anthem and a tear wells up. You feel that bond when you see an old salty WWII vet walking in a store and you hold the door for him and properly greet him and thank him. We’re different then all of our civilian friends, and they know it. Wired a way they’ll never understand. The Bond that we share is with each other… Our mission does not stop when that last boot on the ground boards that bird… So you ask what now… I think that answer is pretty easy… Honor. Honor your brothers that were lost every single day of the rest of your life. When I say "You" I mean all of us. You owe it to them. You owe it to them to live your life to the fullest possible. Take chances, don’t hold back. Just like you would in a fire fight. Help others reach their goal. Start a family, pass on their memory to our kids by telling them stories of your friends that died for his brothers. I think what you wrote here will end up being a very significant document. Thank you for writing what many needed to see.

    1. Very well said man. People don’t get it, but I wake up every day, trying my damnedest to be the best I can, at whatever I do, for my fallen brothers. I owe it to them, and to the ones they left behind. I got a second chance and I’m not going to waste it. I LIVE.

  62. I took it to heart as if i wrote it. If this truly is the end of an era than I’ll do my best to prepare for what future ill nake, but if this is only half time, then im using this time to recharge, cause i sure a shit dont want to miss out on part 2

  63. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. You’re right. Being a paramedic back here does me very little to satisfy the calling I was born for.

  64. I will hopefully live off the grid in my future little farm home loving off the land. Waiting for our countries downfall or maybe another war overseas or at home.

  65. Well written brother, keep writing. Dying is always a waste, most things people manage to work out in day to day life become complicated by the geopolitic. Mac said it best, but I reiterate, we always need men, and we need to stop fucking over people who want to be better, try harder, and push farther. Emulate greatness, acknowledge failure, then pick your ass up and drive on.

  66. Thank you for writing so well. I have no good answer to your lament. I do my best keep the flame of hope alive.

  67. That’s exactly what I am thinking, feeling, living, going threw- living with the loss of brothers and since dried blood on my hands, is far more than I want to live with. Making it back alive has been a disappointment.

  68. Honestly I find myself watching the news, looking for the next war. Wishing and praying that when it does happen (and it will) I’m not to old and broken to find that place in life where I belong again. That place where my life still has meaning

  69. I am a non-server, and one of my biggest regrets – and wishes – is to have felt the brotherhood you express. I wish that your transition was easier. You have earned every blessing this life has to offer.

  70. I honestly don’t think I could have summed that up any better than you already have, if only the general masses understood.

  71. WHATNOW indeed.I normally just lurk and read, but felt compelled to thank you for putting into words what I feel. I am in a different age bracket, and served in a NATO military force, but the same thought processes have been passing through my mind. Thanks.

  72. Bandido,First, well said and God bless those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Country and our Freedom. Although I’ve not served in the Armed Forces I’ve been in the streets of los angeles for twenty years.I miss the action and can relate to those who don’t get our humor, miss my brothers I’ve lost in the line of duty and will never forget them. Fight the good fight and may God bless each of you who stand for the rights of others.

  73. Ok reading this made me tear up, I stayed on Ft Bragg with a friend of mine for a few months and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that look in a soldiers eyes, and you can almost see the despair of feeling out of place in them. I’d see that look at the Gas station, the grocery store, the bars… everywhere. And now, after reading this article it all really hit home. I have a child due in a few weeks and I promise you he will never disrespect your sacrifices, no matter what trash his liberal teachers try to feed him. He will know the truth, You have my word. This Fall I’m shipping off to the Navy, going in as a Gunners Mate and I also intend to volunteer for BUDS if given the opportunity. This message was very powerful to me, it shed light on much I did not fully understand, Thank you, for your service, your sacrifice and most of all the example you and those before you display to inspire those that come after you.

  74. This post hits the nail on the head for myself and many other veterans out there, thank you for finding a way to put it into words.

  75. I am a wounded combat Marine vet from the Vietnam era and this very well very insightful article hits home for myself and all others who have served in any of these "walk away" wars. My heart and my very soul aches for all of the brave warriors who have served this Country for so many years only to be dealt the same hand we who served in Vietnam were dealt. When will this Country learn from its past mistakes and take care of those who gave up everything and put their lives on hold to answer the call? When will this Country wake up and realize the path we are headed down is going to end very badly, especially the way our military is being systemically dismantled from the very top down thru the ranks with cut backs, dismissal of senior leadership because they are not PC in the eyes of some. The warriors who are leaving and being forced out are the very ones we should be keeping.When in Gods name are we going to truly start taking care of those warriors who have given so much and in return have asked for so little? We asked our very best to march off to do a job that no one has a clue about what it means and when they come home we cast them aside. They witness and are forced by the very nature of war to participate horrific events that are beyond explanation and when they come home we cast them aside. They come home sometimes with broken bodies, broken minds and broken hearts that ache for those who did not come home and we cast them aside. Grifter I salute you my brother and all of those who have served. Please take comfort that many of us stand in aw of your service and your sacrifice and you will never be forgotten as long as we have a breath in our bodies. Know this, you can survive and there is a life that awaits you. Be safe and God speed.Tom GainerUSMC

  76. Perfect summation of how I feel everyday while trying to muster the motivation that I once had to shoot terrorists in the face.

  77. More accurately Words cannot describe how I feel,and how I’ve felt. I said so many times I can’t think of a better way to live or a better way to die than in battle.

  78. What now? We take care of each other like we did over there. How come some guys live a happy life serving others, yet others sit and hide themselves for the rest of their lives. I know Clint Eastwood’s character could have done great things in the name of his brothers. We feel lost because we don’t want to be found, maybe because we’re scared. It’s ok to be scared. Just because you can’t walk around with a gun on your back doesn’t mean you arn’t a badass anymore. The what now is what I call the new normal. We didn’t go from bootcamp straight to killing fields. It took some time to learn what to do, even then what we were taught was not even close to what we actually needed to know. The same goes for coming back except this time we do just get pushed to civi life. It is up to us to make goals and find a mission for ourselves. It is our responsibility to take care of one another because no one else can or will understand us. We have to live our lives in a way that will serve as a living testament to those that sacrificed so we could come back. I hope I’m making sense, I have a TBI and tend to ramble and lose my place in conversation. I enjoyed your post and think it was very brave of you to do it. I bet you felt better after you wrote it. You have a talent to express yourself which does not come easy. Keep at it. Maybe one day you’ll have a whole book full of these. You might have saved someone’s life who had a gun to his head while he was reading this and said he would give it another day. Think about it. I encourage you to join your local VFW, Marine Corps League, Legion, Order of the Purple Heart, or start your own. It is our turn. This is our what now. This is our new normal. Thank you for your service brother.Etiam In Pugna Twitter @hiddenwounds

  79. I was just medically retired, and my thoughts are taking a turn for the historical. I just want my fertile lands in Gaul so that I can be away from a civilian populace that will never understand or appreciate what any of us have done. Heading North to the mountains.

  80. You will carry on Brother and become a new warrior. Thank you for your service.Howard "Woody" WoodBUCS (SCW) USN Ret.Shield/Storm Vet

  81. "What Now". . . The Million dollar question. I found myself asking the same question when I got out in late 2008 with a great deal of apprehension. On that note, the GI Bill, a active Student Veterans Association, a University that will bend over backwards to help out veterans has helped to keep me on the right track. College was my first step to readjustment. After my first few years of college as a nontraditional student, civilian life came into focus. No longer do I fear the "what now" question . . . I look forward to it. If veterans have that "what now" feeling of apprehension, and you have GI Bill benefits remaining, I encourage you to take advantage of those benefits. You will be as successful as a civilian as you were in the military. Seriously…I was dumb as nails coming out of high school and joined the military because I thought that I wasn’t college material; to date I have one year left on my doctoral program and have gotten multiple high paying job offers (in large part because people were impressed by my military background). Have the right attitude, you were successful in the military because you have what it takes to be a successful person, the task at hand does not define you, it merely serves as an obstacle in life. ~Will T

  82. "What Now". . . The Million dollar question. I found myself asking the same question when I got out in late 2008 with a great deal of apprehension. On that note, the GI Bill, a active Student Veterans Association, a University that will bend over backwards to help out veterans has helped to keep me on the right track. College was my first step to readjustment. After my first few years of college as a nontraditional student, civilian life came into focus. No longer do I fear the "what now" question . . . I look forward to it. If veterans have that "what now" feeling of apprehension, and you have GI Bill benefits remaining, I encourage you to take advantage of those benefits. You will be as successful as a civilian as you were in the military. Seriously…I was dumb as nails coming out of high school and joined the military because I thought that I wasn’t college material; to date I have one year left on my doctoral program and have gotten multiple high paying job offers (in large part because people were impressed by my military background). Have the right attitude, you were successful in the military because you have what it takes to be a successful person, the task at hand does not define you, it merely serves as an obstacle in life.

  83. I didn’t serve.I’ve rewritten my reply several time and the line above is the only thing that’s stayed. I never feel like I can discuss war with a warrior. And I think I should – that it’s incredible important that we can talk about it. My father always taught me that you respect the soldier, even if you hate the war. I understood that – as much as I could from the outside. I don’t know where this is going, but I wanted to at least reach out and say I understood your article – even without the experience. That is either a sign of an exceptional writer or a universal theme, or both. I also identified strongly with Mr. Diaz’s response.I’m a recovered alcoholic. I’ve been in a 12 step program for almost 15 years. There are some things that non-alcoholics just don’t understand. But I have found the path to recovery is universal – doing your best to serve God and your fellows, one day at a time. I truly pray that you will have joy again.GregManassas, VA

  84. All I can say is we need you now more than ever. There are more battles to fight right here at home. While the Best & Bravest were fighting over there, the Worst & Wimps were taking over here. We need you in politics. We need you in Law enforcement. We need you in schools. We need to hear your stories. My father came home from WW2 & Korea and I never heard a story. We need your voice. We need you in the Media. There is another Adventure to Live. Nothing is wasted. I pray to God that you find it. Everyone that I know is proud of you & extremely grateful for your service. Don’t believe the lies from the dark side. The Enemy is coming at us from behind, with all his dark power, trying to destroy us, while we are looking the other way. Carry on sir. Show the world your strength & courage and let them deal with it. We need you.

  85. Good post brother. But don’t get all misty thinking the whole circus is in the rear view mirror. For all of us who went to the show, that walked it like we talked it, that did the deed and burned the man down when he did what he shouldn’ta, no sir, that shit was a WARM-UP, and the main event is still to come.I signed up not just to "BE SOMEONE SPECIAL", I signed up to kick the ass out of anyone and anything that stood in the way of the greatest country that ever graced the planet. Problem was, the America I was fighting for, the America my friends are dying for, the America I served while my kids forgot what I looked like, well, THAT AMERICA IS GONE. Its been replaced by a socialized, immigrant-infested, welfare-funded, gay-agenda’d, neck-deep in debt, politically correct free-for-all. Yes sir, speak your mind and pay the fine, you’re services are no longer needed, they put a yellow ribbon on their car antennae and that’s all you deserve. The Praetorians are comin’ for your guns, the feminists are comin for your kids, and Dr. Schwartzbergstein is comin for you, with two-bags-full-sir of meds for your little disorder. So wake the fuck up Operators, the show’s just getting good. Get your gear prepped, get your head straight, because the enemy you need to fear is no longer "enemies-foreign", no, its the iron fist in the pink velvet glove that’s holding a passport just like yours. …I have control, I have control, I have control…

  86. The intensity of your feelings have great value in a country that has grown apathetic to things that matter. We could have a better economic policy. We could have a justice system that doesn’t have 3% of the population getting cycled through it. We could have a society that values taking care of their own business rather than have the govt use it’s stick to take care of someone else’s. We could have the America envisioned by the pioneers and patriots, our forefathers.We could have all of that.if just a few people wanted it bad enough.

  87. Sadly you are correct about the PMC world dying down, for most of us it’s the only place we still feel at home. I have tried numerous times to conform but I can’t (either for inability or just pure fact I am stubborn as hell and don’t want to). My only goal now is just to ride this out, pay off all my debt and start up my own little business. I can’t be an employee of people I don’t respect, I can’t take part in a government I don’t agree with. I can’t be part of the system that makes me ill. I’m an American first and foremost; I try very hard to keep my views to myself around my civilian friends, but a couple cocktails in and they come spewing out. I will stay alive, I will make a living for myself, stay in shape and lay dormant until I am needed again. This country is headed down the shitter and it’s current state I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I believe it must hit rock bottom before Americans are forced to wake the fuck up, put down the remote and fight for what they want and deserve.

  88. Thank you for your service. It is very much appreciated. Your words are SO true – you have a gift for writing truth from the heart – please keep doing it. Maybe our country will wake up and forget about the stupid Justins and Whitneys and honor those who deserve it.

  89. I agree with you and with everyone on this thread. The answers to your questions are below, really. Michael Cox provided some really good options. And anytime you think of laughing at or brushing off suggestions like those, think back to some of the tasks and asks you had in the military, but you didn’t let anything stand in your way then. I think we need more veterans in public roles, or classrooms, or boardrooms, etc. Don’t fade from society! Share your story and lead the way as a civilian. It can be done, just don’t expect it to be easy because just like your time in the military-it won’t be easy.

  90. May I share this with, the powerful statement "…and my non-serving peers think: what a waste of a life." As the preview to the article?

  91. I admire the American Soldier! A soldier goes where the government assigns him/her/canine. The problem is in Washington, D.C. Every soldier deserves a Hero’s Welcome upon touching ground in the USA! God bless our soldiers, one and all! God save us from politicians who care nothing for life — only for financial and political gain for themselves!

  92. I didn’t serve but I will always support and respect those who do/did. Nothing but love and compassion for you and your struggles. Ask and I will do all that I can to help you find your future happiness. trish

  93. Mr. Cox couldn’t be more correct! This country needs you, now more than ever. May God bless you with continued courage.

  94. Well played Grifter…well played. Where do we finally fit into the puzzle at home? That ultimately is up to us…the civilians are not going to understand the troubles and heartaches. Your post strikes very deep to my heart, and to the heart of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms. We end up having to do one of two things: 1) accept the "at home" mentality and dull our edges to fit into the puzzle wherever we can or 2) choose to stand out and lead our peers…to create a new picture where we stand united as those that have served, and pull this shit storm ridden country out of the gutter and turn it around. We can NOT be the ones sitting at the local VFW bullshitting with our fellow Vets about that time sitting in the dirt, eating from an MRE after having field stripped and cleaned your weapon. Reflecting on the days when someone told you "I got your back" and truly meant it. After this country has been to War for over a decade…there are literally MILLIONS of us Veterans…a major force for good — if only we took a moment to fall in, issue directives, and once again take our post. This time not in the background of society, at the homeless shelters, in our cars, or under bridges…but taking the mantle of Community involvement as teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs, politicians (with a sense of purpose AND a moral compass), and so forth. To fix the issues at hand…and to not stand idly by and allow our fallen brethren to be forgotten or degraded, as those of the past from the battles in Korea, Vietnam, and others that have fallen on the deaf ears of historians. Take strength from your fellow Vets, wisdom from those that have gone before us, and the collective vision that we all have deep inside…and together we CAN make this country great again.-Tango5

    1. I definitely agree, Tango5. To return to peace is the reason we went to war in the first place.I don’t know about y’all… maybe you had more rank and responsibility than I did… but I choose not to let myself get too worked up over the decisions made by those many, many pay grades above me. If I disagree with the direction the President or Congress choose to go, should I be surprised? Heck, I disagreed with the direction my Company Commander chose half the time! I still followed orders and made it happen…Anyway… the only bit I’d disagree on is the VFW itself. Sure, it’s more of a metaphor in this article and in your comment, but I’d encourage every one of us to plug in to this already well-established organization and transform it into a powerhouse for our generation. They need the members, and they have the connections to make our voices heard!

  95. You absolutely nailed it. "Plus ca change, plus la meme chose" – The more things change, the more they stay the same. Spent three years in The Land of Bad Things as a Marine in 66 thru 71, years thereafter in various forms of military service, and went on to fairly successful business career. Only those who paid cash will ever understand, or even give a ……

  96. That was truly awesome ans I for one want you to know that there are still people back home who honor you’ll for you service & care more about you that the nitwit POTUS & the rest of the Liberal’s. All I can do is thank you for you service. My whole family at some point was in the military & I thank God for each & every one of you.

  97. Welcome to my world Vietnam Vet 1971….they didn’t think we wasted our time they thought we were baby killers. Went back this year to shoot a doc on PTSD. You can’t fight a war no one wants to win!!! Hope you find some peace. Well written, thank you.Peace,Paul O. Colliton

  98. As a proud father of a new marine lieutenant I am sad and disappointed in the failure of this administration to see the job through to the end. I cant believe America re-elected this guy, a sad reflection on American culture. In a perfect world the America I live in would recognize all that is needed for the evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing. What more can be said but thank you for your service. I know there are many more battles for you to fight in life that will make you feel alive, just not the same as you experienced in the mid-east. My hope and prayer for you is you will raise a family of warriors who hold to the values that represent the best of America.

  99. As a proud father of a new marine lieutenant I am sad and disappointed in the failure of this administration to see the job through to the end. I cant believe America re-elected this guy, a sad reflection on American culture. In a perfect world the America I live in would recognize all that is needed for the evil to triumph is for the good to do nothing. What more can be said but thank you for your service. I know there are many more battles for you to fight in life that will make you feel alive, just not the same as you experienced in the mid-east. My hope and prayer for you is you will raise a family of warriors who hold to the values that represent the best of America.

  100. This is exactly what I felt when I left the IDF over a dozen years ago yet am still trying to fill the void.- Greg

  101. I’ve been there, and in a lot of ways still am. I have tried to change my focus politically and socially to be able to cope, but it seems like it’s all in vain sometimes.

  102. This entire article is full on pulled straight from my head, up to and to include the absolute power of the grocery store scene from the Hurt Locker. Well done my man, well done.

  103. ‘A friend of mine once said, PTSD is the realization that you will never be this cool again. He was referring to being on deployment, toting guns, and generally being a hard-ass. He was kind of correct.’ – GrifterYeah, I know, that’s not actually PTSD… real PTSD is serious and mysterious… and plagues far too many of my peers.But there is something else that eats at many vets… something without a name… and that quote sums it up about as good as any I’ve ever come across. When you’re there, it’s terrifying and thrilling and boring and exciting and lonely and bond-building and some days you feel nakedly vulnerable and others you feel unmeasurably powerful. When you come back, it’s none of those… at least, not to the extent that it was.And it doesn’t matter whether you take the uniform off, or leave it on. In fact, maybe it’s harder for those who stay in uniform, because they maintain the illusion that they might go back and feel all of that again…Those of us who get out just struggle with the mixed emotions of realizing that we will never have to/get to do that again…

  104. I am coming up on the eighth anniversary of the day I left for Iraq. I was a chaplain for Marine MP battalion. Your words are exactly on the mark. I am old man compared to so many of my brothers with whom I served. My perspective may be a bit different since half my life was past before I deployed (I turned 46 in Iraq). With that said, I feel the same angst in my heart as this chapter of my life closes. As for what now. In you, my younger brothers, I see the hope of this nation. You will be the ones who take the place of the incompetents who have brought us to the place. Your warrior spirit must lead you to fight a new and greater war. God willing it will not be with armed force, but with the force of your mind and soul. Run for office, shape the political battlefield and intellectaully/mentally sodomize the empty heads of the enemy we face here at home. Your experience, skill and courage are needed now more than ever.

  105. You figure that out you let me know. The question of "what next?" is one that is going to plague OEF/OIF veterans for decades to come, including myself. Great article.

  106. you wanted to go play rambo in the desert and now that its over you feel like a loser. well guess what, you are a fucking loser. you dedicated what were arguably the best years of your life to jerking off over big guns and "hurr durr get sum!" no sympathy. no one forced you to serve the needs of government and big corporations. you made the decision yourself, so get over yourself, stop whining like a little bitch and asking for attention and sympathy. you reap what you sow. big middle finger to all you military losers wasting your lives and generally doing nothing to further the progression of humanity.

    1. Put your money where your address is, fuckstick. I dare you. Real easy for your overweight, over40, pervert ass to sit behind a fucking computer, sheltered by your mommy and her warm basement, so you could ‘play rambo’ via video game. YOU are nothing more than a pussy. And that is what truly bothers you. It bothers you that you don’t and NEVER will have half the pubic hair these men and women have, which is exactly why you still live with your mommy in her basement writing little beiber boys on the internet telling them you want to be their daddy…yeah, you dumb fuck, we know exactly why you wrote this dumb ass comment to something you know nothing about. Fucks like you create the blood lust in the world, and all the while hiding behind some remote, unknown local because again, you are NOTHING more than a fucking pussy! Prove me wrong! Go into the nearest biker bar, yell out for the veterans, and say exactly what you said here. I know you won’t! I’ll be MORE than happy to be your huckleberry, though. You work that out, and lmk the details. BET, I’ll be there with bells on. BITCH!

    2. Dear "no (resume) sympathy",1. No one there was playing, that’s what you were doing all the while.2. You don’t have the credit rating to judge who is or who is not a loser.3. "dedicated" is too big of a word for you to use.4. Hurr Durr, don’t be jealous of my big gun.5. Continue to jerk off over your little gun.6. No one forced you to comment.7. You serve the needs of the Government every day bitch.8. You used a computer to comment on the internet, Big Corporations tricked you.9. You made the decision yourself.10. Stop whining like a little bitch and asking for attention and sympathy.11. You reap what you sow. 12. Your middle finger has been places ours hasn’t, so put it back.13. You further the progression of humanity?

  107. god i wish you’d post your fucking address ‘no sympathy’…. nobody here is asking for attention, but i will most certainly give you a little of mine.

  108. No sympathy? You are a fucking pussy. You have always known it, and you always will, for the rest of your life. Give whatever excuses you want about the corporate machine, but deep down inside, you are a fucking pussy.

  109. @ no sympathy…I would find you and correct your vulgar language and disparaging remarks with an emphasis on a severe attitude adjustment…if you were worthy of the time, but alas – you are not. GFY, with No Sympathy from me

  110. Amazing article. Great read. To no sympathy go fuck yourself. You’re either a dirty hajji or a Marine kicked your ass.

  111. Thank you for writing this. I remember the drawdown in Iraq – and the invasion. I sat there, as we were getting ready to leave the country for the last time, thinking, "Six years ago I came here and we had a purpose…it was a misguided purpose, but it was a purpose. Now…it’s all over…and I don’t have a purpose, and I don’t know if I can say we did any good. All I can say is I lost really good friends and saw people die for what they believed was right, on both sides, for…what?"

  112. I’m just commenting so that the neckwear hiding behind a keyboard gets his comment bumped from the top. I’m sure that all your anti war Facebook posts made an impact on Global policy. Way to go, cheddar nuts. You win at murrica.

  113. This guy, got balls enough to talk shit on the internet but no balls to give his name or info so we can really let him know how we feel in person.

  114. [I]t was a glorious waste. I wasted my life seeing the very best of a generation of MEN stand up and go do what was asked of them. I wasted my life in third-world shit-holes, knowing my brothers cared more about me than the girl at home. I wasted my life watching guys risk and give their lives for one another. I would not ask to waste my life any other way. I will also do it as long as I can. My only question, echoed by thousands of GWOT vets is: what now?The mother of a GWOT: The above words melt my heart as well as open my minds eye. I am grateful to the men who saw my son as brother and cared for his welfare as he to did unto them in return. So many young men will never return home and to those mothers, fathers, wives, children, friends and other relatives I feel a great sorrow and compassion. At the same time I am conflicted for I am as grateful my son was able to return to me. In was his first deployment I feared the most. Releasing my son for the purpose of battle with a fear he would never return to me again. This fear ate at me day and night until I purchased a computer and taught myself to use it for the distinct purpose of being able to communicate with my child. I sleep at my desk with the volume on high, so I could hear when he chimed in. It could be at any moment mid-night, 3 a.m; 5 a.m; 12 noon. I stood guard and patrolled my computer as if his life and mind depended on me being at that screen. During that time I rarely left home, and barely ate. On those weeks when there were no messages at all… I was in a pit of deep depression and my thoughts became a harassing enemy whom I struggled to subdue and defeat. At those times I would call his father, to see if he had heard anything… Are when his father would come to me to see. I will never know, understand or experience the things you young men have endured and I may never know, understand or experience the challenges you men must face; I can do is say thank you for the brotherhood of service men for it was this unity, love and commitment, which returned my son to me and for that I am eternally grateful. Sincerely The Proud Mother of a Wonderful Son.Thank U.

  115. @ OAF Your words resonate with me and many like US…I don’t know whats up with this Horny little b*tch on here going by "no sympathy" but when I read her bs it makes me smile…yeah smile.. because It makes me realize how much more the war really meant to me. How little pussies like this bitch could never understand…How I saw 14 year old kids fight with shitty rifles and rocks just for a chance to get a win against the Americans. Instead of sittin at home like this little cunt "no sympathy" …I have more respect for my enemy than your little bitch ass. I wasn’t there for the politics. I hated bullies and I liked to fight. Sure at some points we bullied too but that shit happens when your boys start dying. Those that have been, know War is the Ultimate game. Our team won some and we lost some, but we played with all our hearts and all our souls. I love everyone of you Mahfukahs! OAF Nation I salute You BamBam

  116. @ OAF Your words resonate with me and many like US…I don’t know whats up with this Horny little b*tch on here going by "no sympathy" but when I read her bs it makes me smile…yeah smile.. because It makes me realize how much more the war really meant to me. How little pussies like this bitch could never understand…How I saw 14 year old kids fight with shitty rifles and rocks just for a chance to get a win against the Americans. Instead of sittin at home like this little cunt "no sympathy" …I have more respect for my enemy than your little bitch ass. I wasn’t there for the politics. I hated bullies and I liked to fight. Sure at some points we bullied too but that shit happens when your boys start dying. Those that have been, know War is the Ultimate game. Our team won some and we lost some, but we played with all our hearts and all our souls. I love everyone of you Mahfukahs! OAF Nation I salute You BamBam

  117. Wow! "Grifter." Many thanks for your not only brilliant and heartfelt tale from a real Warrior that really got to me, but for serving almost without exception as a sounding board from so many others that I enjoyed almost as much. I felt that the serious and empathetic commentators also "got it," and said so eloquently and from their hearts..As an 84-year old Marine veteran with 13-month tours in both Korea and Vietnam, to this day in my life, those two tours and the death of my wife are what I remember most in my life-to date–despite completing THREE very successful careers while basking in the love of one woman for 60 years and our subsequent children! Having said this, what really disturbs me is the number of combat tours our young warriors endured/are enduring lo these 15+ years of the GWOT. The young Soldier who appeared on the balcony of Pres. Obamas last State of the Union address had TEN tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let me repeat that, TEN (10), 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10!!! And what happened on Tour No. 10? He almost got killed while suffering grotesque and devastating wounds and injuries. Why should we be surprised? He defied any Vegas odds risking his life this many times, and our Country let him do this! But he volunteered to do this, and he is not the only one, as 4, 5 and 6 tours are not uncommon for todays warriors. And this includes many women making similar sacrifices on our behalves. Yes, some of my fellow Korean and Vietnam vets had more than one 13-month tour also, but I dont recall anyone I knew or knew of, having more than three tours, and that was an exception! I enlisted only two years after my oldest Navy brother was killed at 19 in WWII, and following my lead, two other brothers followed me into the Marines, one more joined the Navy, all four served in Korea, and our nephews followed becoming sailors and Marines as well, one a Marine Colonel today with 25+- years of service with several GWOT tours and many separations from his family. Thats what OUR generation did, and its what the writer of this letter and his fellow military-commentators continue with today. God Bless You All. You have more than our support, you have our love!I would like to make one small correction and add one important comment to what one commenters above said here: the America I was fighting for, the America my friends are dying for, the America I served while my kids forgot what I looked like, well, THAT AMERICA IS GONE. Its been replaced by a socialized, immigrant-infested, welfare-funded, gay-agenda’d, neck-deep in debt, politically correct free-for-all. I would amend his "immigrant-infested, comment to read "illegal immigrant-infested" and add, AMERICA IS NOT GONEYOU ARE THE NEW AMERICA!

  118. As the civilian father of an active duty OEF Veteran I feel almost embarrassed to comment in this thread of mostly hetoes, present and past. To each of you, I humbly bow and pray that you find peace in the knowledge that your effort, dedication and service was not in vain. You matter. Each of you. Individually and collectively. I stand in awe of your path, your sacrifice and your warrior spirit. There may be finer men and women in this world, but I’ve yet to meet one that has not donned a uniform and stood a post. For your service and your sacrifice, I humbly Thank You. I’ve read the Infantryman’s Creed and I would follow any of you, all of you, anywhere. I’d do this without question or challenge because you are proven leader’s and you can be trusted. You’ve proven this to a Nation that has failed many of you, and will fail many more in the years to come.But that’s not why you did it. You’re not searching for recognition or reward. Your reward is internal; a Greater reward awaits each of you on the Final day of judgement. Until then, I hope that each of you find your place in the simple and comparatively mundane world of the civilian. I pray that some of you take your training, spirit, knowledge, tenacity, mettle and balls, and head to Washington to right our listing ship.If anyone can fix this incredible mess, it’s you; the True Leaders of this Nation. You have a job to do, you took an oath, "foreign and domestic". CONTINUE to do your job. Please. We need you HERE. More than ever.AWESOME article, Grifter.God Bless you all.

  119. Figured I’d comment as well. I could really care less about what someone says negatively in these comments because what they say simply holds know water. I know my nuts will always be bigger than theirs.I hadn’t read this article yet but have seen it posted many times. WARNING: If you read it, there is some language. Those of you who truly know me will learn from this and will realize the similarities. I’m almost positive that I couldn’t have said this better myself. I KNOW that most, if not all, the guys who are my age and have served feel the same in some way, shape or form. Some of us are and have been lucky enough to find "What now" and close that chapter in our life but think about that chapter the most. This part of our life when we lived the most and experienced life in the fullest. Our families and close friends witnessed our morphing from pre-war to during and now post-war. Many, many men live with the eternal scars, physical or emotional, from the life we’ve lived since 2001. To many the events of 9/11/2001 were were the catalyst to complete the puzzle of our lives. You spend almost 20 years training and training for the opportunity to actually practice what you’ve been trained to do. The opportunity finally arrived and a rebirth was the result. As a kid, all I ever wanted to do was be a solider. I told my high school counselor I wanted to travel the world and carry and gun. Well, I certainly lived that dream. I have no regrets whatsoever. I have met and become close friends with the very best of friends God could give me. It’s been years since I’ve seen most of them but if they called me right now for help, I’d go and help them. The bond is eternal. So yeah, thanks for posting, I’m glad I finally read this. Kinda makes me feel good…proud. Hoodlm…OUT.

  120. Roger E. Roy Our soldiers are trained extensively, including on how to KILL people, the enemy, and how to stay in control of any situation. That includes cleaning up body parts of your friends and civilians after an engagement. That training is fine for survival on the battlefield, but it almost destroys your ability to survive in a civilized society, unless you are thoroughly "deprogrammed" when you return home. Until that is done, it’s NEVER dealt with. Unfortunately, our governments haven’t been very interested in the latter. My first year in university I lived in an apartment across the hall from a veteran of both world wars, and occasionally I would be woken up in the middle of the night by his screams and shouting. Long story short, one day he opened up to me while he was drunk, when I took the time to talk to him. His stories were heart wrenching, especially one about a 15 year old German soldier he had shot, who died in his arms. Those soldiers NEVER got any kind of help to deal with such things when they came home. We supposedly know better to-day, so why are these people NOT getting the help they need and deserve? I have a son-in-law who went through much the same thing in Rwanda. People who have never been to war, especially those who have never had any significant trauma in their lives, have no idea what is involved.8 hrs Like 1

  121. I am a product of the Cold War. Sit around and wait for something to happen- mostly, nothing did. Therefore I have no answer. What I would suggest is that you seek out your brothers from these conflicts and Vietnam, Korea and WW II. There are still a few around. They figured out what’s next- for the most part. Ask them "what’s next and what do I do?" Seek their council often, not just once. They could be great mentors. I sincerely hope you will find a new calling nearly as good as defending your country.

  122. Your post, was recommended to me by my daughter who was with a CST Team in Afghanistan (2 tours) and just got back. r Don’t forget and don’t despair. You guys are warriors and we, (our country) needs men like you in every generation. If the shit holes in Washington keep running the country into the ground we may need you back sooner than you think. It’s a dangerous world we live in. Regardless of what Obama thinks the Russians, Chinese and the Muslims are not our friends, and they don’t give a rats ass what "sanctions" are placed on them. The only thing they respect is a is a big old can of whoop-ass. Carry on men.

  123. All true, and well said. As a Viet Nam veteran, and tours in El Salvador and Bosnia, I can relate 100%. The "leadership" is without vision, courage or tenacity. and, I loved the quote, PTSD is the realization that you will never be this cool again.Drive, Buccaneer 3, Roger and OUT

  124. A profound, point-blank approach to the questions and realities that face all of us in the GWOT boat. I applaud your commentary and I echo the same feelings. I am very happy to see my brothers still have this fire in them but I too have felt the bitterness you illustrate in this blog post. And – beautiful reference to the grocery store scene… I try to explain why this scene was so powerful – but it is lost to so many people, including my wife. Daily I ask myself, what next, what now? What am I meant for… As a person who developed several mental illnesses including PTSD, I am completely awestruck by what to do next. I’ve told my Doctor that I don’t believe it will ever be better than those times in my life – there in Iraq. She negates what I say and tells me it gets better, but i’ve yet to see it and have already nearly committed suicide. (That point struck home for me too). Even with medications and everything else – they only mask the deep underlying issue of WHAT IS NEXT? The doctors won’t answer it and as far as I can tell – neither can we.Wonderful post, you just gained a follower.

  125. America desperately needs our soldiers. We need soldiers who truly meant the oath they took…I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. America’s elections are much closer to auctions. It is pretty well known that a candidates ability to raise campaign funds is a good indicator to the chance of them winning. While you were fighting GWOT, congress invited foreigners to participate in US elections (auctions) by allowing corporations to make unlimited, anonymous campaign contributions. There is nothing to stop the Saudi’s from forming a US based corporation and donating millions to their favorite presidential candidate.The problem is, we are facing a domestic threat that has educated us, provides us our news, and masquerades as our leaders. We have been mind-fucked our entire lives. If you are interested in going down the road to understanding who runs the US government today, here is my suggestion.Get an $8/month subscription to Netflix and start watching documentaries. Here’s a few to get you started, rate what you watch and use the recommendations to find others to your taste.EthosWe’re not BrokeDeath by China911 In Plane SiteDark LegacyPower and Terror in our Times, Noam ChomskyFood, Inc.American AddictLast Call at the Oasis

  126. There are still those who support you. Who say "thank you for your service" and really mean it.Who think you did not waste your life or time. Who wish they could understand.

  127. Now you better understand the plite of the Viet Nam vet. We learn from the vets that went to faraway lands to fight for what ever reason. Thanks for your service from one who also served and knows your hurt. Don’t knock the vet telling stories at the VFW, his stories are as real as yours and the seat next to him is reserved for you, someday. Proud to call you a brother in arms.

  128. There is a war to be fought here at home brother. The only righteous war left. Against the only real threat to our freedoms and liberties. The tyrants in Washington.www.americanvikings.com

  129. Just so you know, There are lots of us out there who care. I teach Modern Military History to High School juniors and seniors and I make sure I have as many vets come in to talk to my students about what it was really like. I don’t want my students to learn about the GWOT like you learned about Vietnam from your teachers. The last vet I had in dropped the F-bomb more times than even I have said it and the kids got the point. Thank you for what you did for me and my family. Join Team RWB too.

  130. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. I now understand a little more about what my son is going through. Thank you for your service to our country. I am sharing this with my family and friends in hopes that we can help.

  131. What now? A question I deal with every day as I sit in this cube. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I do it for my kids. That’s it. That alone I think is a good endeavor, but its for their happiness not mine. Such is life I guess.

  132. I am at a loss for words. Thank you for sharing your experience and feelings. I know if my husband were still here he would agree 100%.

  133. Thank you for writing this article. It hit home in many ways. It said what needs to be said and I would wish that every American would read it multiple times. I don’t know what is next. But I will never accept defeat. So maybe I will be Gran Torino, but there are worse fates.

  134. I would like to pass this on but some of the language is too strong for my family to read. Otherwise I believe the article has merit.

  135. Very strongly said! While my heart cries for all those that perished due to the GWOT, my heart cries even stronger for those that survived for your true scar is deep within your soul. Conversation MUST happen, stories MUST be told and your feelings MUST get out. Do not hold within, talk to someone who cares, TELL your story. I have done for a few and I wish to God I could do for all and this was shared with me for a reason and I hear you "my brother" and I will do what I can to preserve the dignity and offer respect to ALL those that have served. God Bless Our Troops – those of yesterday, today AND tomorrow

  136. There are a few of us out here at work, that suffer the civillians who think we were hired by our company solely because we were "Veterans of War". Truth be told; we can do their jobs 10X better than they can without 1/2 the training they have. We sit here every night wishing we were back in a COP……

  137. Wonderful article. Please, though, one thing:"Thus is the divide in my generation. My brothers and I tell stories with passion and pride, and my non-serving peers think: what a waste of a life."Not all who didn’t serve see what you and your brothers and sisters did was a waste of life. I am one of them.

  138. Outfuckingstanding read. I shared this with my brother’s as it has resonated very deeply within me. I have a lot of thoughts and urges that I have to keep buried deep inside. The Civilians we fought for, that were too scared or just unwilling to go over there can never understand the truth of the reality they live in. My wife has been extremely supportive, even though she doesn’t understand. Amazingly the VA has even been of some help. But in the end, nothing will ever fill that spot in our soul, that only the hunting of armed men can fill. Calling artillery danger close or A10’s doing a strafing run. When that shiteater pops up 20 meters away with an RPG. When you walk all night to set up an ambush only to get hit on exfil and have a running firefight for the next 8 hours that ends with a house being flattened by two 500 pounders. Nothing can ever fill the hole of leading 38 men through the mountains and valleys, knowing that they rely on you and their brothers to make it through the night. Nothing can ever fill the hole of calling in a 9 line for friends that you will never see again. Nothing can ever fill the hole of talking to a parent of one of your many fallen Brothers. Nothing can ever fill the hole, when you lay awake at night because you know what will happen when you go to sleep. I think every man deals with these issues differently and sadly some of them never really come home and end up committing suicide. The rest of us have to go on. We honor our Brother’s that gave their lives for this nation. In the end we can’t help the fact that we have a superiority complex, for we have seen things and done things that only a few will ever understand.

  139. You know, I am gonna weigh in on this one, because it has been something I have dealt with since 2009. Frankly, I am sick of the discourse surrounding the "what now" aspect of the "we have no war," "we have no purpose" cry that is rising from the ranks of millions of combat arms vets that are separating. For certain there is a disconnect between us and society. Mostly I attribute this too our (society) overall sense of guilt over Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fact that it really doesn’t look like added up to anything from the outside. AND, people don’t want to share the moral responsibility of thirteen years of war. THAT is what is killing dudes, the fact that everybody wants to turn a blind eye about the reality of our national policy and the longest period of war in the US. No one wants to share that moral responsibility, so it is left up to us. But, I digress. To address the meat of the article: Suck it up. We have plenty of problems in the US that need addressing. We need to start businesses, get involved in our communities, get educated, volunteer, build shit and keep fighting. Our fight isn’t over and it will never be, and when we are sitting on that barstool in the VFW, salty and surly over how "we’ve been treated" then we are losing the fight. We need to tell our story, no matter how gruesome it is, and at the same time we need to be pillars in our communities and prove that we aren’t fucking crazy and useless. We need to take care of ourselves and realize PTSD is real shit that needs to be worked on, because we can’t sit idle while the rest of the country struggles, we can’t take an "out," we can’t be stigmatized. Our mission is changing but our discipline can’t waiver, you know?

  140. Grifter, thanks for your internal thoughts. As a civilian, I’ll never "get it". I can only read or talk to those that have experienced it. My family is long with service to our country and I respect everyone that stepped up and did what was asked. The cost is undeniable and immeasurable; my Grandpa and Father-in-law were both wounded in conflicts and my best friend gave all in Iraq. The USA still needs to hear your stories. The world still needs the character you embody.The thing is, you have answered the question that dogs 99.9% of men; "Do I have what it takes?" You know you do. You’ve proven it to yourself and your brothers time and time again. What’s next? I can’t answer that for you. But I do know that if any real crisis happens (not Starbucks being out of Lattes, or Xbox live being down) you and your brothers/sisters will answer the call to help, whatever that may be. And people will follow. You are a leader regardless of what your head says.I’ll buy you a beer and lend an ear anytime!

  141. I’m a firm believer in a popular saying at my church: whom God calls, God prepares. I believe that every trial we experience as our lives unfold is Gods way of preparing us to be who He needs us to become. Our attitudes during the in-between time will affect our readiness and our ability to meet the next task in line. God doesn’t string you along for nothing – it’s all to raise you in greatness for His own lofty purposes. How you deal with a strong headwind, how you honor the blood of your brothers and the purity of their life’s sacrifice, and how you expend your energy throughout each day will determine how beautiful your soul truly is and how ready you are for what God will ask of you tomorrow. The sky will never be more blue, and the stars will never shine any brighter than when you’re prepared and are equipped with a proper attitude. Maybe your task is to simply keep your skills and talents alive as you watch vigilantly, maybe it’s to raise some kids who will serve as you served, and who will learn from you and seek to emulate you, maybe it’s to help enliven a sense of patriotism in the hearts of those who don’t know or appreciate the cause of freedom, and maybe it’s to prepare for the next war that takes place at home. I’m grateful not just for your service, but also for you enduring hardship, putting up with ungrateful politicians and citizens, for putting yourself in harm’s way for the sake of liberty and protecting others, and for your loneliness. Greatness can’t be had by everyone. Not all lonely people are elite, but elite people possess few understanding and equally qualified associates. Combat veterans are by necessity elite. Thanks for helping to carry the burdon of the elite for every non understanding person around you.

  142. There are people who are truely greatful. I am one our military is my hero not celebrities and sports celebrities. I wish the words thank you didn’t sound so hollow. Those words are truely ment.

  143. Short and sweet. As an OIF I vet, thank you. This is very well worded, and I enjoy reading works by my battlefield-family.

  144. Afghanistan COP Vet: I enjoyed your blog. People do not understand what we seen or what we lived being on the front lines. War is truly a reality check on what matters more.

  145. I’m right there with you Brother. After dedicating 28 years of my life to the Corps I "became a civilian" for good last year. It has been a tough row to hoe but it can be done. I was given a new lease on life by the VA, as I was almost completely non-functional due to PTSD. I am certain that I would not be here today if it were not for the treatment I received. What needs to change is the stigma associated with seeking help that is so prevalent in the Marine Corps.

  146. Be proud my brother! I live with regret ever day that ovwhelms me sometimes havehaving been medically retired. Then hearing that some of my brothers have given the ultimate sacrife. I don’t know that I would have made a difference but it is a bond that others will never understand.

  147. The ONLY question there is after all this is "what now" I ask myself that question everyday, and I still don’t know the answer

  148. WOW, so true and felt by so many. It doesn’t matter which war, which period, which branch of the service.

  149. I know what "now." "now" I read things like this to still feel connected. My bigger problem is, what "tomorrow."

  150. You make the most sense in referring to two administrations of leaders who could really care less about the average infantryman since no one at the top ever served (save Colin Powell who was railroaded). The biggest bitter point has to be the pop-culture worship of Hollywood Idiots, and Athlete dopes. This drives me insane. A remedy would be a draft for all 21 year olds nationwide to serve in the Military, a domestic teaching program in schools, or in a red-cross like disaster response team. We cannot fight a perpetual war for perpetual peace with a professional military whose ranks are exhausted. Finally there has to be an end to GWOT. It simply needs to come to an end. If only our priorities were rearranged placing veterans at the top we’d be better off. Thanks for writing this article.

  151. I have heard some of these things from my son after a tour in Iraq- he has been out for three years and is contemplating re-upping. The pride I feel in knowing people like him, and you, cannot be explained. Thanks for writing this.

  152. My 82-year-old dad is a Korean War vet. He sometimes but rarely talks about his time in, and the readjustment to civi life immediately after. "Get busy livin’," he would always say. This mysterious period of his life was a decade before his first child was born – me. All the guys in his unit that survived that war have passed away now. He got to see some of them a few years ago at a reunion they all had in California. His memories are still vivid, as is his humility. When the day comes where the light in his own eyes grows dim, I know he will venture on to embrace them again. I hope he takes with him the knowledge that there will always be those left behind who will honor and cherish the service, memory and sacrifice of the men and women of our precious armed forces.

  153. Howdy… I live in some middle town down south Romania where there’s this NATO kind of transition base or something like that. Devil Dogs that have been round here call this place MK… And I’m proud to be one of the few guys that got to hang out with these great buds and maybe the only local that made them feel like home… I remember that first night when me and some friends entered a local bar and found like a dozen or so of marines that were just having a drink or too and shooting the breeze just getting bored till I got in… haha… man what a night. Imagine a local redneck down Romania to dig stuff such as semper fi … know what a grunt is and all that stuff… they were simply amazed and I made some great friends that very night… and we all got drunk in the end … till the last day of their deployment here haha… Every marine just keeps asking me … "man how come the locals stare at us as if we’re some alien race or something"… and I simply tell him "y’all ain’t one of em"… simple as that. And the last statement seems to be working overseas or something even in the place y’all call "home"… As far as I’m concerned about how people look at me… well I feel like a stranger in my own country too and so I’m aware that I’ll have to stick with "being a loner" idea in order to keep my identity and my ways… it ain’t easy… it can drive you mad sometimes and you feel like loosing it but that’s how it is…Now about the change over this GWOT thing… well said … just take a look at history itself… Y’all get scared of being leftovers stuck in some shit world just getting your ass feel old and beaten up and stealing your identity (yea it fucking sucks)… but hey y’all had one helluva ride now ain’t it so?… At least you did some serious shit most of us only dream about… and no worries … there’s folks out there that respect y’all and thank you for your service. But maybe this next phase is actually a tougher war?… A war where you’re your own enemy?… It’s hard to make any statements here but I know how it feels… somehow…A sad but great topic and Semper Fi from Romania!… Keep the faith!P.S. … some of us need easier ways to enlist so grab some top dog CO by his nuts and force him into thinking of a way foreign folks can enlist in the USMC without alien residence or whatever visa shit … i can’t really remember what you need but I know it’s pretty hard to join the corps if you don’t have US citizenship…

  154. This is good brother. Keep writing. Let the words come, and through them you’ll begin to figure out a "what now?" Your "what now" is different from mine, and is different from others’. Don’t stop seeking, don’t stop writing.

  155. I am grateful for our military’s sacrifices and I am envious of a brother hood or comradery I will never know. Thank you for all you give and gave, I am very thankful!

    1. You really are a wretched piece of refuse, aren’t you? Nothing is worth dying for to you except the chance to equate your politics and inability to control Capitalism with MEN who actually do something worthwhile with their lives and help others survive to build more civilized and prosperous societies. Your moral inferiority is on display.

  156. A lot of people risk their lives for others. But they don’t do it by being the Praetorian Guard for corporate America. You are right, someone who hasn’t experienced being in combat cannot filling understand the bond forged in the fires of battle. Wrong is the notion that fighting the imperial wars is somehow noble. You’re right that you missed something out in the sands. You missed any sense of what our county is about.you missed how these wars have made us less safe. And you missed how we are determined to net the mercenary wars.

    1. You really are a wretched piece of refuse, aren’t you? Nothing is worth dying for to you except the chance to equate your politics and inability to control Capitalism with MEN who actually do something worthwhile with their lives and help others survive to build more civilized and prosperous societies. Your moral inferiority is on display.

      1. Who the fuck are u talking to? WTF Its fucks like u that just walk around everyday of ur life thinking that nothing could happen to u, ur country, the fucking worlds perfect…right just need to "prosper as a modern globle societie" mother f**kers are doing shit every single day that would send u running for mommy, tell them after the smile clears "alright guys we no longer do it that way anymore so just litsen to shit heads like me tell u how fucked up u are and how smart they are…they got it all figherd out till a bomb fillled with some unspeakable shit gos off in a heavily populated area, FUCK U MAN DONT EVER JUDGE THIS MAN, OR ANY COMBAT VET THAT HAS SEEN HEAVY COMBAT….GOOD WAY TO START SME SHIT U CANT GET URSELF OUT OF. YOU MIGHT BE THAT STRAW THAT PUSHS HIM OVER BORED GOD HELP U, AND HIM. Im not making threats im just trying to help ppl like u avoid potentiel bad sitation. Im sorry If i took this the wrong way but shit…. To Who ever wrote that u hit nerve shit was scarey real, living it everyday, again im sorry but this is killing our fucking brothers even after its done….so dnt touch on shit u dnt knw abt. Wish all my infantry brothers to have sme peace in ur life

      1. This idea that someone has to have served to have an opinion on our Country’s international dealings is absurd.

  157. Grifter, beautifully said. You have no "non-serving peers". Your service, your sacrifice, your courage and comraderie, will always separate you from those who do not understand.

  158. Your writing style is engaging and I enjoyed the article. I assure you that you can have a fulfilling and awesome life even if you aren’t shooting guns at people – lots of activities and occupations encourage the same teamwork, trust, and camaraderie the military does. You may perceive the stakes as lower, but in the end, everything in life is a game, including war. Find a way to have a fulfilling life or be another aimless 20-30 something, veteran or not.

    1. What Sarah said. Teach others about Courage and Leadership. If there ever is another fight, don’t just put ‘em up. Win it the way YOU think it should be fought. Show our enemies no mercy and our friends no shame. You are one of the best in our country. Behave like it. And never give in.

  159. I think "wasted" is the wrong word. I’ve made some changes.I learned how to have courage, by seeing the very best of a generation of MEN stand up and go do what was asked of them. I learned the importance of brotherhood in some third-world shit-hole, knowing my brothers cared more about me than the girl at home. I learned how to love by watching guys risk and give their lives for one another. I would not ask to live my life any other way. I will also do it as long as I can. My only question, echoed by thousands of GWOT vets is: what now?What now? Teach our children and others about courage, brotherhood, and love. Come home. And if there ever is another fight, put em up. We need you here.

    1. What Sarah said. Teach others about Courage and Leadership. If there ever is another fight, don’t just put ‘em up. Win it the way YOU think it should be fought. Show our enemies no mercy and our friends no shame. You are one of the best in our country. Behave like it. And never give in.

  160. Yah, I think you need to suck it up a bit and drive on and stop complaining. Our grandfathers fought a "real war" came home and did not receive nearly anything compared to what we get now. They lost more friends and spilled more blood the first day than we have in 10 years. I have seen worthless junk soldiers who never fired a round claim PTSD to get a paycheck for life. Yah, you may have seen a little action, lost a couple friends, others lost limbs….get over it, it happens. You signed up for it, just like I did, then we got backdoor drafted and no one cares. I am glad the Occupation is over we wasted enough life occupying countries that don’t want us there, did we just waste billions of dollars and human life? Most likely, but time will tell. Until then you should just be grateful we have a country that does provide for us, its not perfect, but its probably better than any other country in the world. I am tired of vets thinking the world owes them everything, it’s called selfless service for a reason. Wars over, enjoy your freedom, go get a free education and do what our grandfathers did, make our country better and not bitch about it.

    1. I don’t care what our grandfathers did. Every war is real, and every war takes its toll. So no, sir, you shut up.

      1. Those grandfathers were also welcomed home with goddamn parades, and the moral support of a grateful nation.

  161. I wouldn’t say the VA is a joke. It definitely has problems but it is working hard on them. Part of the problem is that it’s mission is so large, much larger than people realize. That PFC who served three years in the 80’s and now has a medical condition? He can attempt to claim disability. Is it legit or BS? Who knows, but the VA has to spend time and resources getting to the bottom of it. Alot of BS claims out there are gumming up the system preventing legit cases from being processed. I’m not sure what exactly you want from society. So it pays more attention to celebrities, so what? Why are you letting it bother you? Go back to school, find something that piques your interest and can keep you engaged, either professionally or academically. Yeah, you were a badass in OIF/OEF. That was a few years of a very long life. Don’t let those few years be all you are known for.

  162. That’s some pretty heavy stuff. I can only try to understand, not having served there. God watch over you and your Brothers until all can be understood.

  163. yet again th media makes mens lives a lie ,the powers that be are liars and cowards teaching the people to tolerate terrorism ,I say thanks to the men who fought ,who did their job as best they could they should all be treated as heroes as our soldiers once were .Instead the government and media want to down play your work ,I think you are a scary thing to them ,who are stealing our freedom ,you are, Americas only hope ,whether we know it or not ,the time of talk is over and it will be men like you who will make the stand .Heros again

  164. I lost my son PFC James Fleet McClamrock in Iraq on 09/07/2010. 2 were KIA and 9 WIA. I’ve stayed in touch with his brothers because they were the last men to see him leave this world. I believe in my heart that they did everything they could when a coward insurgent invaded our American troops safety lager and allowed his AK47 to change the lives of many FOREVER. One of the hardest things for me is when people say causually – Don’t you think the Iraq War was a mistake…a waste of time. WHAT???? Don’t you understand that my son joined the Army to defend his Country, to FOLLOW ORDERS??? He was a man of integrity. He loved his brothers in arms and would die for any of them. I will NEVER regret his decision to render his life for the sake of his Country. I now watch them come home and lose their zest for life. They have difficulties going to the grocery store…going to 4th of July Celebrations for fear that the sounds will trigger an horrible night for them. I celebrate the American Soldier. For those who still understand WHY they fight. When they look at their small children and say – "it is you that I’m fighting for". I could write all night because this subject is very close to my heart. I will end saying that I continue to pray for those in harms’s way, that God will protect their heart and mind from the enemy. That when they stop fighting they can come home and be proud of their service and try to find something else that will fulfill them. To give them credit for their service.

  165. I’m not a soldier. I’m a civilian and a patriot. Thank you for your years of service, and thanks to anyone else who may read this and served in the GWOT. You will always have my gratitude. My best friend just returned a few days ago from his first tour in Afghanistan, and I guess his only. I have always taken pride in our friendship but I take even greater pride in it because of his service. Thank you again, all of you.

  166. What makes me the angriest are the politicians who push for war and then withhold money for the war’s vets. I will gladly pay higher taxes to give our vets all the support they need to reintegrate when they come home. Politicians who try to avoid war (and don’t need to threaten war to "feel like a man") are the ones who really support our military people.

  167. Brother, GWOT was just the warm up. We are on the edge of all out revolution, as our domestic enemies have trashed the constitution and must see justice. We should talk.

  168. What Now? Grab your Brothers and stay close…..do not let anything or anybody come between you….use your courage, commitment, honor to hold your generation together.Just a rant from a VN Marine—

  169. As a veteran myself, I relate to several points here. However, it seems as if you don’t give a damn about why, or who, you’re fighting. You don’t care about the war, just as long as there is one. Violence for violence sake, putting your buddies at risk for literally nothing; this is where you and I differ. What happens now? We do our best to move on, never forget, and make our country even more worth fighting for, if we ever need to fight again. We fight domestically, to never let ourselves be thrusted into a war that isn’t needed. Good luck to you.

    1. Wasn’t the point, at all. My point is that my brother’s are left feeling a loss of purpose and I personally feel that THAT is what’s behind their suicides. PTSD is one thing, and a terrible thing, absolutely. But, I think guys like my brothers CAN and WILL overcome it, as they do every obstacle, as long as they have a PURPOSE. More to follow on this in my next article.-Grifter

  170. Maybe the only honorable or selfless thing left to do is to humbly find a quiet place where we can sit and wait for old age. I plan on living towards being "off the grid" and self sufficient. No matter how much noise we make, the vast majority will never get us. It isn’t uncommon for vets to take this route and keep more to themselves. In fact I have talked to quite a few of our Viet brothers who are living overseas and come back once a year to maintain American citizenship.

  171. You didn’t "waste" your life. The politicians who decided how to use the tools they had wasted your life. David Weber wrote that a commander’s job is not to keep her troops alive. It was to ensure that their lives weren’t wasted. Our politicians have failed you and us– avenge thyself by becoming more than what they think you are. :)

  172. 1 You’re an awesome human being for fighting the War of terrorism. So much respect for what you do. #2 How the fuck did you learn to write like this? You had me wanting more and touched my heart (which isn’t the easiest to do) #3 You’re an inspiration to a lot of people, not just military. Whether you may know it or not, your words will help change the way (some) people think. You can’t fix stupid or arrogant or nieve but if you can get to the hearts and minds of a few key people, your efforts in all of this did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I could write more but I’m not good with words. So…Thank you for your service. You’re awesome.Caroline Mayes, Jacksonville, NC

  173. There are many people in this nation who totally appreciate your service, patriotism and sacrifice. In our family, our heroes wear camo. Our hero are definitely not the POTUS, politicians, Hollywood stars or entertainers- Our heroes are our patriotic Warriors- we are forever thankful.

  174. "These are great days we’re living, bros. We are jolly green giants, walking the Earth with guns. These people we wasted here today are the finest human beings we will ever know. After we rotate back to the world, we’re gonna miss not having anyone around that’s worth shooting."

  175. It ain’t over. Obama wants it to be, but wars don’t get "declared" over. They must be won. This one must be won because there is a real enemy out there who wants to use terror to bring our culture, religion, and freedom under submission to their form of repression based on Islam. That is why they will strike again and some future president will have to either apologize or defend. Obama will go down in history as being the only president to apologize and he will be blamed for the loss of innocent life on that day…and rightfully so. You who are still on the ready must remain so, and you must tell your stories to the generation who will have to defend the Constitution of the United States. This president rapes the Constitution rather than defend it. This is the worst presidency and the worst 8 years our country has ever experienced, but we will out live it and return to sanity. Don’t give up. America, the America you fight for, will survive.

  176. Very well written Sir. Your an inspiration to me because I looked into joining the Marines. I did everything but sign on the dotted line. What happened was is I got scared…for obvious reasons. Who likes the idea of dying from a road side bomb placed there by some goat herder, or some fucker randomly shooting me in the throat through some murder hole 500 hundred yards away. The point is this Sir. You committed, you took the leap. I can appreciate what you did because I contemplated it and realized how crazy one has to be to go fight a bunch of assassins. You did something that I am certain i could never do and i envy you for that. Your the man, your gonna be fine. Lots of things to keep you busy, i recommend focusing your energy to other positive movements. Whatever you end up doing to find peace, know that your the fuckin man…and know one can take that from you.

  177. Very well written Sir. Your an inspiration to me because I looked into joining the Marines. I did everything but sign on the dotted line. What happened was is I got scared…for obvious reasons. Who likes the idea of dying from a road side bomb placed there by some goat herder, or some fucker randomly shooting me in the throat through some murder hole 500 hundred yards away. The point is this Sir. You committed, you took the leap. I can appreciate what you did because I contemplated it and realized how crazy one has to be to go fight a bunch of assassins. You did something that I am certain I could never do and I envy you for that. Your the man, your gonna be fine. Lots of things to keep you busy, i recommend focusing your energy to other positive movements. Whatever you end up doing to find peace, know that your the fuckin man…and that no one can take that from you..unless they wanna get in a gun fight…which wouldnt be a good idea.

  178. My days aren’t over yet, grab some beer and hang ten dick heads because in 2-3 years contracting will explode again

  179. Much love and mad respect to each and every one that has served our great country!!!The Admin in place does not care but YOUR COUNTRY,MEN,WOMEN AND CHILDREN LOVE AND RESPECT YOU ALL!I know my grandchildren will hear how brave you are,how much life was lost!!I shall tell them with tear’s in my eyes and a lump in my throat for i am a father of a SOLDIER!!An honest to god,country loving,family man who gave so much for us at home to be free!!!CARRY ON SOLDIER’S The power’s that be are on their way out and we shall rebuild!!!

  180. "a world without the GWOT." Sounds like the title to my life…to all our lives. I’m sometimes having a hard time getting through this too man. The Vietnam generation hasn’t been very helpful in that regard (as I’m sure the WWII generation wasn’t too helpful for them). I don’t want the GWOT to be one of several U.S. conflicts left out of the history books either, but sometimes I think it might be better that way.

  181. Well-said. Jack also wrote an excellent comment. We must not forget why men like you went to war. It was not to prove manhood, it was to protect our country, our way of life, from those who would seek to destroy it. God made soldiers…..He made you the way you are! Thank you for your service. Please know that many of us have not forgotten…..MANY!

  182. Well written. Says many of the things I am faced with now. Do I get out? or stay in? I remember getting home after Iraq in ’06 drinking a beer with some friends about a week after landing and we all just looked at each other and one said "Can we go back yet?" We all agreed. I joined the Army when I was 19, no real job up to that point and only a little college. Trying to figure out what to do on the outside is scarier than combat. Combat we know how to handle, at this point for many its more reflex than thought. I agree, its hard, but I believe that if the politicians would stay out of the fight they threw us into, it would have been over sooner. Its our job to fight not theirs. With the constant change in ROE and the limitations placed on us its like trying to fight a boxer with your hands tied behind your back. Sure you can kick him, but you won’t get very far. They tell us to aim for hearts and minds. Duh that’s from basic 2 in the chest 1 in the head right?(only a handful will get that joke) Certainly no, the media doesn’t help the image of what we did, I believe they report what they think will sell which half of the time is misrepresented and twisted. In 2005 there was a picture released showing a soldier pointing his weapon at a 10-year-old Iraqi kid. They condemned the crap out of the military for it. What they Failed to do was tell the public that the unit that caught the child risked their lives to capture him instead of just shooting him. He was found with several grenades and an AK-47 on the roof of a house because he shot several Soldiers that were out on patrol. The corruption of the government and civilian contractors definitely didn’t help the budget. There is a saying that has been around for awhile now, "Somebody’s brother-in-law is getting rich of this war." Civilians in a war doing the same job as Soldiers (not always as good) getting paid by the government a hell of a lot more. Same job 3x the pay. I met some that actually had no job to do and were out there just for a paycheck. That’s just an unarmed person in a fight that the military has to protect during a fight instead of helping on the front lines. I am not by any means a good writer, this is a response to an article I particularly like. I could write more however I won’t. This was a way for me to help Grifter out by hopefully explaining a little more with detail. I know my thoughts run together and come out randomly but these are only MY opinions. If you don’t share in them, then you can disregard them. You won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t agree.

  183. I was sent a link to here by a fellow soldier. Your writing has managed to describe the last 4 years for me. You’ve put many of my feelings into words- re-adjustment is just a concept for me- not a reality. I feel lost to be honest, but I just keep going because I know I need to. Thank you for your words.

  184. As someone who came home in one piece after watching more than a handful of marines and sailors that didn’t, sometimes those still struggling ask me what makes me different. I have the family, software job, 9-5, all that. Whats the difference between this, and a fifth of vodka and eating a shotgun?The difference is I still feel like the author feels, these words go straight to my heart, but it doesn’t define "ME", I AM more than this, I CAN STILL BE more than this. That guy still resides inside here somewhere, but you don’t see him unless you run down the hallway behind me (running footsteps are a trigger for me), or unless I take him out on purpose, like when at the range, or when asked to teach first responders at the fire department or police department. I may stick out quite a bit in the software world, and say a lot of shit that gets me in trouble or just gets really funny looks, because they don’t get it. (Never try explaining what a Shit-Hemorrhage is to a civilian 300 pound ass-crack…)

  185. I command you MEN whom have put your life at risk for my freedom "THANK YOU". ..Your rite the President don’t pay respect to you/your families for doing something he never done.Sure he maybe Military but he hasn’t BATTLED THE BATTLE… Give him 2 n the chest an 1 in the head an see if he gets that JOKE…LOTS OF LUCK….

  186. I met a wounded veteran the other day and even after all he went through he asks the same questions on a daily basis. He said, "at least when I’m with my brothers I know that the guy to the left and right of me are there for me no matter what." Instead he comes home after being medically retired to people who as you said either look at him like he’s a victim, with pity in their eyes, hatred, and or even blame him personally for only doing his job. I imagine it’s a strange place to be in the in between if you will not knowing if you step forward into something or take two steps back. I myself had wanted to serve but for medical reasons could not and can honestly say I may not have been able to handle any of it had I been allowed to serve. It’s a tough job you all do and I don’t mean just physically I mean mentally. We are not made to do, endure, and participate in some of the things you soldiers have done. Then to come back home and put the adrenaline on hold to sit at a desk I imagine wouldn’t cut it for many. The wounded warrior was also talking to me about the lack of benefits you all receive when you come home on top of the mind f* that goes with reinserting yourself in civilian life. It’s a wonder we have people willing to serve at all will all this. I applaud above all your honesty and courage to say something and express in words what it feels like since I think more people should be aware of what you all go through. I know you say a lot of it’s opinion but truth is a lot of what you said is the same maybe in different words that every soldier I’ve known has expressed once coming home. Thank you for getting that out there and thank you for serving our country and our people. You guys all do what you do so those of us who can’t or won’t can stay home and be with our families blood or not.

  187. I appreciate a lot of what is written here, but just because the US spent trillions and lost thousands of lives does not mean we have to believe the GWOT was in the interest of America. I know the dedication of the Marines I served with, but just because they want to go back doesn’t mean they should be sent. Defining oneself by a FUBAR conflict (War was never declared) in an effort to honor your brothers is a tragic mistake, and one which I am afraid will lead to a long life of anger, resentment and unhappiness. We can admit that we "wasted" our time in a conflict that hurt American security, and still know that it was honorable to answer the call by our country to serve. We are not defined by actions Congress takes, or the conflicts Presidents choose to send us to. We are not defined by "our war", one that America lost. We are defined as heroes by how we responded to the call. We are also defined in the public by how we continue to serve as veterans. When we become angry at, and resentful toward the community we live in because they "don’t appreciate us" we alienate the community from our story, and become just another "broken shell of a man" to them. The GWOT was useless; it created enemies we didn’t have before, cost money we didn’t have, and countless lives. There was never an exit strategy, it was a boondoggle from the start and had nothing to do with 9/11. It should not be hard to understand why the public has difficulty separating their feelings about the Iraq conflict, and the sacrifices made by the men and women who served. Especially when the service members themselves refuse to separate the issues, and are hostile towards people who are anti-war, feeling like they are personally attacked by the notion of being anti-war.

  188. What a very powerful message to all of us! My husband is a vet of Vietnam…..3 toursHe still struggles with what he had to do there. He’s a member of the VFW and has been watching all of his commrads that made it back die off one by one of malidays that they were afflicted with while being there as he is and how his government gives less of a shit about them every year they are alive! My heart is with each and every soldier passed and present who thought our government was on the up an up only to find out they were used as pawns in a political move that never should have been!

  189. The GWOT may have been declared over, but it isn’t over by any stretch. Terrorists aren’t going away any time soon. Living in denial does not change facts on the ground. Good article.

  190. I am a mom of a Soldier that went to war and is back trying to find life outside of combat and brotherhood. I appreciate ALL the sacrifices from Great to even the smallest discomfort. We "can" change our lives for the good. I believe if we can find the good in people and love or give to the one in front of us daily sometimes hourly we will start to feel different about our past, the people in our present and our future. Even offering a smile when we are down and hopeless brings us joy. Our Soldiers returning need HOPE=The Joyfull anticipation of good.You life is not over so to speak you have just begun to share your talents and abilities with the world around you…We can change our mind with how we think, it gets easier. Sometimes when I get to complaining I go on a negative thinking fast. It changes how I see my world and world around me. And the positive atttitudes of the wounded warriors have taught me how to appreciate my life. We love our Vets!! Thank you for your sacrifice it is and was not in vain. Sharon

  191. Nail on the head, Brother. As I pop smoke for the last OEF tour, I go with mixed emotions that even I don’t fully understand.

  192. Well said from a true Warrier and soldier who sacrificed a lifetime for American Freedom. Unfortunately America’s warriers are now about to be returned home to a nation that has no need or desire to use their skills, according to the elected POtuS in the White House. Our soildiers should bond together in their own groups and be prepared to fight, here at home, to resolve the deeds of the POtuS in Washington. Hang tough soldier, your skills will be needed sooner than Americans believe as we are required to stand in the "Face of Homegrown Terror" that is headed to our own shores. Our acting POtuS is, as you said, is more interested in congratulating Gay Basketball players and playing golf than in thanking families of those HE sent to die in foreign lands. We can’t forget that his wife is finally proud of America, now that she has the country credit card to travel the world. America should have seen the writing on the wall and changed leaders, but too many are supported by the programs that give away a "Free Way of Life", with government check, each month that penallizes those who work to make America what she has been for 200+ years.Stay STRONG Soldier, your skills will be necessary soon to keep America what she has been to so many.

  193. Sounds like this could of been written by a Vietnam veteran back in 1972..wars are the same with the same results..for there are no winners..just bad dreams.

  194. Good article brother. I spent 10 years in the Marine Corps, was part of the first grunts to cross into Iraq, and then went back two more times operating out Ramadi, Fallujah and Hit. I got out in 2008, and got a job as a security consultant – a position I still hold. I had a very tough time the first few years, but then I started directing that energy into endurance sports like Ultra-marathons and Ironman triathlons. I get out there on the road and think about all of that nonsense. The crazy times we had. Endurance training has helped save me, and I recommend some of you try it out. I’ll finish off with a small portion of a poem by Rudyard Kipling, a Brit poet during WWI titled Tommy.I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,The publican ‘e up an’ sez, "We serve no red-coats here."The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Tommy, go away";But it’s "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,O it’s "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleepIs cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bitIs five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?"But it’s "Thin red line of ‘eroes" when the drums begin to roll,The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,O it’s "Thin red line of ‘eroes" when the drums begin to roll.You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our faceThe Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Chuck him out, the brute!"But it’s "Saviour of ‘is country" when the guns begin to shoot;An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  195. I want to tell everyone, regardless of their comments or opinions, thank you for taking the time to read this. This has been an absolutely huge success and has taught me exactly "what now". It’s inspiring to know that some goofy rant I went on, touched someone. As long as that’s happening, I’ll keep writing. I seem to have found a niche and some of the comments have sparked a fire that I hope to spread. I have a lot in store for you all. Shout out to HNIC for being gracious enough to give me the floor on which to speak.Semper Fi, my friends…..more to follow soon.-Grifter

    1. Grifter,You caught my attention and I thank you for your post. I plan to share this with others that may, some day, be able to make a difference. ~DSPO Kid

    2. Looking forward to hearing more from you, Grifter. If you had a mailing list to let us know when you write again, I’d be on it.

  196. This is absolutely true. After 3 deployments, I am addicted to the high. I went to college after I got out, got my degree and became a police officer in order to chase that dragon. Some people claim war is a bad thing, and although it cost me a year in therapy, it was where I lost and found myself. You will never feel as alive as when you are so close to death.

  197. "A friend of mine once said, PTSD is the realization that you will never be this cool again. He was referring to being on deployment, toting guns, and generally being a hard-ass. He was kind of correct. "I agree with most of what you wrote, but this should not be in the article at all. PTSD is scanning every person and area to assess the threats… at your kids soccer game. PTSD is ducking for cover and unconsciously reaching for your gun when a car backfires. PTSD is waking up to nightmares every night for years after watching your friends get blown up 15 feet away. It is not transitioning from military to civilian life. Sincerely, Navy vet who doesn’t have PTSD but who witnessed his father live with it after Vietnam.

  198. You may not have heard this yet, but to those of us who grew up in an earlier time where love of God and Country and Allegiance to the Flag was an every day way of life, in our homes and in our schools and churches, you, and men and women like you, are our modern day heroes. You are the ones who stand between us and the enemy, both foreign and domestic. You are the ones who do not "waste" your lives, but "sacrifice" your all, so that we might enjoy the Freedom so many take for granted. I was not born yet, but after WWII, when our men and women came home from the war, there were parades, and ticker tape, and great rejoicing and pride in a great victory won by our troops. There was government assistance to help each soldier buy a home and find jobs in a civilian world. In this day and age, our government is more interested in supporting illegals and Welfare recipients who will keep voting them into office, than in taking care of our precious men and women who have given their all to keep our shores safe. But, lest there be any doubt, for those of us who will never truly understand what your sacrifice has cost you, physically, financially, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, we want you to know that you are our heroes, our hope for the future of our Country, and that you deserve nothing less than our utmost respect and our eternal thanks, and our prayers that God will bless you and guide you towards your "what now".

  199. Thank you for your service. I am embarrassed by the POTUS for his inability to actually lead this country. As much as you think you and this war may be misrepresented to future generations, I think that posts like this should prevent that from happening. We didn’t have the same technology then. Our children deserve the truth.

  200. SO undeniably true! GWOT>Afghanistan 2010 & 2011 Vet here, sitting in my office at Microsoft. Surrounded by pictures of my service, awards, decs, and my flag pinned proudly on the wall behind me… I’m completely blessed to have the current job that I have, but every morning I come in, sit down, look around and think… "I hate this place…" our war is over…

  201. Grifter,You speak for many. Those who never served and were not close to those who did will never understand. The wives and close family get it to some degree, but not really. The public does appreciate what we did, but they just don’t understand it. They honor Bieber and others more than Chris Kyle because Bieber can sell more things than Kyle can.The end of wars are always messy. Think of how Confedreate soldiers must have felt when the union occupied the South or how Union soldiers must have felt when Southerners proceeded to create slavery by another name. Again, the treatment the Vietnam soldiers received was way worse than what we get. In their era, people were downright hostile to soldiers and saw them as bad people. At least people in our era make empty gestures of gratitude and the VA does its best, though I can never be good enough. Wars must end, and I think that is a good thing. For those who built a live around it, they will have to find something else, or end up like the 22 veterans a day who are taking their lives and the countless others who cannot cope. Each of us must find the next thing to do in our lives, but you are right that things will never be the same. You can never go backward in life, only forward. That is something we definitely learned from watched our brothers die and just having to ‘drive on.’I post a Memorial Day speech from a person who fought for four years in the Civil War and was wounded several times. When he left active service he hung his bloody uniform in his closet where it stayed for the rest of his 93 years. He found a new purpose in life and became a justice of the Supreme Court. Maybe some of us will reach his fame, but we all must do as he did and move forward."But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience. Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us. But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.Such hearts–ah me, how many!–were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year–in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life–there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier’s grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march–honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death–of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen , the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will."http://people.virginia.edu/~mmd5f/memorial.htm

  202. Saying this hit home does not begin to cover it? I have it all, the pension, the family that stuck by through all the shit, the post military retirement flying job (I’m a Helo pilot), even Grandkids. Yet at 52, I look in the mirror everyday wondering "what the fuck now". I know I’m lucky, even to be here, but flying drunken Euro tourist through the Grand Canyon will never equal flying around on NVGs on darker than 3 feet up a cow’s ass nights at 100′ to pick up some bearded pipe hitters. I’m a liberal Jew boy from New York City and I loved every minute of my 8 deployments since 9/11, but the way some of my civilian friends look at me, I actually look for the 3rd eye on my forehead sometimes. I miss being with the boys, downrange every single day and sometimes I just do not know what to do. Thanks for at least reminding me I’m not alone. Yogi

  203. I agree with a lot of this, but we have to avoid falling into the victim trap. We have to keep our heads high and never forget what we did. The lack of gratitude and the meaninglessness of the culture for which we sacrificed doesn’t help. We cannot let ourselves be victims.

  204. God damned brother. You hit that shit square in the taint! To all of my brothers and sisters in ALL services "you are the greatest". My only hope is we can all see one another in a place like Valhalla. Glenn Cook said i best "Soldiers live, and wonder why."

  205. My heart is overwhlemed with the realization of this mans account. No words, only acknowledgement, a new perspective…..and humble gratitude.

  206. I went back and read this three times just because it honestly made me feel better every time I read through it. Sincerely, thank you. I’m damn proud to show this off to anyone I come across and especially proud to say I don’t know who wrote it. Im proud because it speaks for all of us who went and did it without every saying a word to each other, that’s the brotherhood formed from combat. "War is God’s way of teaching American’s geography.~Bierce." I believed in silent professionalism throughout my career, where and what we had done stayed there. We went to Iraq and Afghanistan for future generations to believe in the United States as a strong country. To believe the victims of the morning of September 11th 2001 did not and will not go down in vain but above all we enjoyed serving because no matter what situation forced into, I would do every single thing my living body could do to protect my fellow Marines to the right and left. We are dying breed my friend, our dedication to duties fall empty in the eyes of our government. Sadly enough it starts from our commander and chief. This is my first response to any veteran post but I hope to see more! Something has to change to stop seeing my brothers, four of them now, committing suicide while were handing out welfare checks and paving the road to undeserving Americans. The situation is unacceptable.

  207. Welcome to the club pal. I’m a Vietnam vet and we lost 59,000 men and women over there for nothing. When I cam home and tried to use the GI Bill to continue my education, older women would spit and curse at me calling me "baby killer". Here’s a bit of history for you younger folks, read "Tears Before the Rain" by Larry Engelman, an oral history of the fall of South Vietnam, Oxford University Press, 1990.Jim – US Army draftee, HHT, 2/17 Cav, 101st Airborne DIV , I Corps Vietnam 1969-70

    1. Jim,Thank you for your service…It was not in vain. Those of us that know, know. I served in A Troop, 2-17 Cav, 101st, albeit, 30 years later, but we still practiced the traditions of the Cavalry spirit, and studied the men and the history of the unit that preceded us. Your service is not, and will not, be forgotten….SSG A. Jackson

    2. Agree with you Jim.Phil. US Army draftee, A Co. 801st MT. Battalion, 101st Airborne Div. , Camp Eagle and every firebase in I Corp Vietnam 1968-69

  208. To everything there is a season. That’s about the truest true there is. Batter up. Rotate and serve. Don’t lose years to the transition, we have to keep moving.

  209. I served in OIF with Marines. This is for all my comrades in arms who served in Iraq and Afghanistan: You may think that the politicians have thrown away your sacrifices to buy themselves a few more votes and a little more leverage. Perhaps that was their intention, but they will not succeed in the long run. Whether your lives were taken or not, you have given them. And what counts in the end is not how successful you were in each skirmish, but whether you stood for what was right in the greater conflict. God will remember you.

  210. I have to say, I don’t find this moving at all. It basically echoes everything I’ve been saying for years, but without any of the insight. So let’s clarify:The Global War on Terror is over. It has been. It should have been long ago. It never should have been in the first place.The GWoT was a waste of life, money, time and resources. Most importantly, it was a monumental waste of human potential. Further, it was a criminal racket used to line the pockets of roughly, eh, 100 individuals at the expense of HUNDREDS of MILLIONS across the globe.Veterans are lost (who can blame us) because our entire mission is simultaneously both over and deemed inconsequential–dare I say even fraudulent–to human history. Our mission was a lie. Our actions were unjustified. Our actions will be remembered with even more shame than Vietnam, because at least the Communist scare was semi-relevant and almost palpable (the terrorism scare was a knee-jerk reaction by an uneducated nation fostered by a predatory government encouraged by defense lobbyists). Afghanistan and Iraq had as much to do with 9/11 as Florida and Saudi Arabia did. We turned a suckerpunch into a global manhunt for an organization of a few dozen individuals and the invasion of no less than two unrelated countries to get them. Pathetic.What I truly dislike about this op-ed is that the author attempts to justify the immense loss and waste of the GWOT by juxtaposing it to the camaraderie we feel in the service. I get it. I served and I would still drop everything at the drop of a hat for ANY of my battle buddies–even the ones who are getting angry reading this right now. But that STILL DOES NOT justify trillions in debt, thousands of American lives lost, HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Middle Easterners (both combatants and innocents) killed, and half of a generation’s worth of fear-mongering for the profit of a few. And I won’t get into the massive socio-political and economic costs that the GWoT waged on America at all levels of society.This author is the epitome of duped. Like most Americans, he has been played a fool, but instead of acknowledging it, maintains an air of pride at having been duped. Blind patriotism. Jingoism. After all, holding your head high and "serving for the sake of serving" is all that matters. "Just following orders" is a noble way of living. And when your "reason for waking up" disappears–even if the reason wasn’t justified in the least–it makes complete sense to revel in an air of blissful and willful ignorance JUST AS LONG AS you were true to the guy next to you…as if there’s a such thing as a "glorious waste" (there’s really not…that’s basically intellectualization and rationalization).America wonders WHY the veteran suicide population is so high. Here’s my hypothesis–CLARITY. Finding out that your whole life and career were built on a greedy lie can only result in massive cognitive dissonance. It is THIS dissonance–experienced as pain, guilt, shame, anger and hatred–that is taking our lives. I’ve been there. I know. I also know that with clarity comes peace. Without clarity, one will NEVER know peace no matter how many drugs you take, pills you pop or meetings you attend. Looking in the mirror and admitting "I was duped" is what brings peace. Redirecting your anger toward those culpable for your suffering and harnassing those feelings for a greater good is what gets you through it. It’s getting through that dissonance that’s the hard part…and shit like this article doesn’t help. All this article does is pull a veil over the truth, at the expense of clarity, to the detriment of a society that will be doomed to repeat our mistakes./end rant.

      1. How wonderfully astute. Care to actually back that up with reason, logic or otherwise a relevant argument? What part didn’t you like and made your feel-goods feel bad? :(

        1. You honestly think this is "REAL" insight? Try reading his article and doing some analysis on the time frame he actually served in the Vietnam War. I’ll give you a clue: it certainly wasn’t at the height of hostilities.That aside, Vietnam was a different animal altogether. You can’t compare the feelings and experiences of OIF/OEF veterans with Vietnam veterans just as you can’t compare either of them to WWII veterans.Try again.

  211. What now? We fight a different fight…we find a new place in life. An end to these wars is not a bad thing. I think this country has compensated us well. To those of us with PTSD and other issues…we knew what we signed up for! Quit asking for a Justin Bieber style parade and lets celebrate our victories like men. Tell our stories to one another and our loved ones who care to listen over a cold beer. I don’t feel entitled, and any Veteran that does would probably feel that someone owed them something no matter what they did in life! This post pissed me off! Thank you for your service.

    1. Well, Keith S., you are entitled to your opinion, however, you are way off mark in mine. First, he is not asking for parades, he’s pointing out the lack of real respect for the the things that matter–the lives of warriors sent to battle over a Canadian teen who’s a major douche. Celebrate our victories like men? What does that mean? Did we not throw parades and celebrate the coming home and victories of our soldiers in World Wars I and II?? That, of course, was back when we had a grateful nation and one that truly supported the military. Like you, I don’t feel entitled to anything but I can not agree that we were "well compensated" for what we did. If that truly is your way of thinking, then you are part of the problem when it comes to pay and benefits. If you truly had PTSD, you would know exactly what he’s talking about when he says "What now?". You would know the intent of what he is saying. He’s not saying he "can’t" get on with life…he’s stating what WE with PTSD/TBI know: this regular life that we are all supposed to go back to doesn’t have the same "rush" or "value" in our eyes. What we did for each other mattered–life and death mattered–and we supported each other. In my opinion, no matter what we end up doing here in the "world", it will never have the same impact as it did then. It doesn’t, and will never, compare. Most of us will go on and live very productive lives and enjoy what we can, but most of us will also, in the back of our minds, miss the rush we got from combat. THAT’s the issue with most people with PTSD, our brains get wired to be on that level of serotonin that our brains get used to in combat and when we get back, we need to FEED that to our brains. That is what part of the rehab is, to work ourselves out of that "need". Anyway, I’m not meaning to "school" you or anything like that, I just disagreed with your post and thought I owed you an explanation as to why. Take care…

    2. Let me apologize in advance for the part that sounds like I’m saying you don’t have PTSD…I meant to say if you knew more about having PTSD…just knowing ALL the symptoms and such…

  212. Indeed………….. What Now? We are not asking or seeking parades or glorification or even thanks from anyone. Lets just get on and make the most of the lives we have left and live a better life. We are brothers and sisters all….

  213. I think Ryan is just a pissed off army wash out that got discharged for being a douche, possibly attempting to sell secrets to the Taliban. Get off of Kanye status and get the hell over it!

    1. And here come the trolls…ad hominems are a wonderful way to disperse those feelings of recognition and self-reflection, aren’t they? They make you feel good about yourself as you read my comment and said to yourself, "wow, this kinda makes sense, but it goes against everything I believe in…must…ridicule…must…fight…..reason….". (Keep in mind that denial is unhealthy)Because how DARE someone have gone through the same (or very similar) events and have a totally different perspective, right? How dare two people view the world through different lenses? I served three tours. I’ve lost a lot of friends and family (34 to date). If you’ve been to ANCOC or BNCOC in the past 8 years, you’ve seen a video of a coordinated ambush in Ramadi that I was involved in. I spent more than half of my contract deployed for this meaningless war. So don’t be so quick to judge.The difference is I got out and gained perspective. I didn’t roll over and give up on learning new things because knowledge about my transgressions made me feel bad. Knowledge invigorated me.But keep on telling yourself that you’re "an actual vet" because you hold onto beliefs instilled within you through one of the most successful and powerful propaganda machines in the history of man (the U.S. military and media), reinforced through "sacrifice" and such high virtues like "honor", "integrity", "esprit de corps" and :fidelity". You clearly have a great perspective on life and can see outside the box.

  214. I am an AF spouse (retired after 32+years) and proud Mom to an Army Airborne Ranger who is currently deployed. Yes, "The wives and close family get it to some degree, but not really" and I believe the American public is far more supportive than the mainstream media reports. You ask, "What now?" I would submit that your "job" is far from over. You are the future for our country — you are the ones who can pass on to the youngest of our country what true honor, integrity, character, and self-less service means. Every day you wake up, please don’t ask "What now?" Rather ask "What young mind can I impact today? Clearly, when the likes of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are headlined rather than the likes of a 7-year old little girl who raised over $1500.00 in pennies for Wounded Warriors in honor of her uncle, our society needs each and everyone of you to fight another war here at home. What now? Join with the ranks of your Vietnam comrades who, because of your service now are finally being recognized as they should have been decades ago, and fight for this country’s future. Work together with your brothers to bring honor, integrity, service before others, and love of country back into our culture and society by impacting young minds that otherwise have only the media to learn from.God knows your work is far from finished.

  215. What now is, it’s not over, it’s just moved to the USA. While our troops (that most of us honor & praise you for what you’ve done)was fighting for our Bill of Rights, Constitution & Country & putting your lives on the line, your commander in chief was & is in bed with the enemy & providing guns & money to the enemies, & breaking & trying to do away with the Constitution, breaking the laws, & he’s not even legally in office.He has so many things planned to do away with the Christians, the Seniors (they are a drain on the economy) & the sickly. We need our Military to stay in shape & be ready to protect our country. It’s going to be a bigger job than what you’ve been asked to do before. I can tell you the Conservatives have been behind appreciating & honoring our troops all the way. There’s just so much you don’t know about and there’s not enough room on here to list it all. Our own politicians has turned on the American people & let this imposter break any law he wants & backs him in all his lawlessness. If you knew what all I’m talking about, every drop of pride to protect your country would come welling up inside you. I didn’t even know how much I had till they started taking away bits of our country a little at a time. The only hope we have is in our Military. We have signed so many petitions to impeach Obama & had more than enough names to make it happen legally, even the supreme court said so but as the Supreme court said, if Congress wasn’t such cowards, Obama would already have been tried, sentenced & impeached. Thank you Soldier & remember the only ones who would say anything against our vets are the cowards who never did anything. Stand tall & be proud, we sure are proud of you & most of us feel our government owes our vets so much, but since our Reps. & Senators joined forces with the imposter, we no longer have a voice in Washington.

  216. Well written Grifter! Your service had a purpose and is greatly appreciated and words can never fully express the gratitude we feel for your sacrifice. Until recently we have been a nation that believed in and acted upon Godly principles. As I have told my son, who is currently serving and is 4th generation military in our family is if you stay true to your faith God will get through everything from the rush of a firefight to ridicule of a close friend whose views are different than yours. Honor and duty are not to be mocked. God Bless you and your family.

  217. I just love how many conservatives ( Joyce J. in particular) think they have the corner market of being a patriot, God and country , a supporter of the military. Give me a freaking break!Pres. Obama is trying to do away with Christians? Bull Crap! Going to take up arms against the government? What kind of thinking is that J.J.? Fear mongering, etc.He isn’t a citizen of the U.S.? Bull Crap! Then what is the state of Hawaii? A foreign country to you Joyce J., and the people there lie? Iraq was all about the oil, Bush-Cheney didn’t care who they maimed, or got killed. They lied to us all, as did Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. If North Korea was such "an axis of evil," then why did we not go into N. Korea and get their weapons of mass destruction? They had the capability of one, not Iraq. We occupied Iraq, to secure the oil and the exporting out of there of it, Bush took his focus off of Afghanistan. Congress needs to stop taking funding away from veterans, It is morally wrong to do veterans this way. They also are doing it to the civilian segment of our population too.Even employees in the V.A. are ripping off veterans, this was recently told of a local office in my state. They need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, made to pay the money back. In the future more vetting done and background checks of them.First Lady Michelle and Mrs. Biden have from the time they came into office, have worked hard to help Military Families. God bless our military veterans, there is a purpose for your lives, you have so very much to still contribute to society and the best is yet to come for you as you seek it. I am so grateful for what you did for our country, so thankful you are home, and I mourn for the ones who didn’t make it back.

  218. I do have family members who are serving, and have served in the military. One a Sergeant in the Marine Corp., ( Iraq, Afghanistan, Okinawa, S. Korea) the other in Army Special Forces. (Afghanistan)

  219. First off let me start by saying that I served in the Marine Corps from 2002-2006. I happened to have the pleasure of sharing a bit of that time with Grifter (full disclosure). We were both basically kids back then (I think he would agree) but we took very divergent paths in life after that. Today I am an atheist and Voluntaryist (google those terms before you assume), but still carry a gun every day and work alongside fellow vets. I say that as a way of explaining, not a fire starter. I believe that in order to find the weight, meaning, and intent behind a mans words you must first understand the man. Unlike Grifter, however, I did not do shit. I was trained as a grunt (minimally as Im sure he would emphatically agree) but I never went to Iraq, and I never went to Afghanistan. Why? Timing really, just good/bad luck depending on how you look at it. I wasnt broken, I wasnt a problem child, just bad/luck of the draw. I, like almost all of us from back in those days, have lost friends, more than just 1 or 2, and a few were combat casualties here in the USA, and a few more We keep a close eye on. That pain digs DEEP, it hurts more than some of my ACTUAL blood family members that Ive lost in that same time. All that said, and so you know exactly where I stand, lets begin. I joined the Marine Corps at 17 in 2000 because I grew up reading about the men that helped create and forge our country, both on and off the battlefield. When I was 14 or 15 I tried enlisting. The Marine Corps recruiter laughed and said come back at 17. I did. Sounds romantic, yes? I joined not because I wanted to see war necessarily (none to fight in the year of Y2K), or for college benefits, but because it was just what I thought I was meant to do. It wasnt a conversation I had with myself, it just was. Ah childhood dreams.by year 4 of my enlistment I had had enough of the politics. Thats the only reason I got out and stayed out. Jesus enough about me. WTF someone stop me..I do not agree with what we did after 9/11. I do not agree with the decisions to invade Iraq or Afghanistan. I do not agree with the Patriot Act or almost ANY of the policies that we are now forced to live with. I do not agree and rather detest the military industrial complex that is so pervasive in our society, benefitting only a few at the very top at the expense of so many truly well-meaning youths, of which I was one. You can get as tin foil or conspiracy theory as you want, whether it be banking, oil, or just a knee jerk reaction, we did not need to outright invade two sovereign nations and covertly a few more under the published guise of revenge. At this point I wouldnt be surprised if a lot of the fighting is with the children of killed parents, for their OWN sense of justice and revenge and having nothing to do with a religious war at all. Im going to butcher the quote but someone once said that war is constantly created by the old for money and power and forced on the young to carry out, and while its extremely cynical I cant argue with it. The kids in the military world or coming up into it are raised with that mentality that war is a good thing, those guys over there are evil and all must die, and that just isnt the case. I cant blame them for how they were raised and the blinders that society puts in place. I do not think of myself in some enlightened or better light, by the way, merely a change of perspective. I blame MY parents generation for allowing it to happen, and mine for perpetuating it on our kids. The EXACT same arguments and excuses that we saw used back in 2001 and 2002 leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 weve now seen used to try and garner support for an invasion of Iran, Syria, North Korea, and most recently Ukraine.theres a pattern of international bullying here that cannot be ignored. I can already see protests coming my way, have at it, we can debate this for days; but I wont here. Ok so we know who you are, and that you hate the war.so?Lets be crystal fuckin clear here, gentsEvery vet has my 100% support coming home. The loyalty, respect, honor, and selflessness is something you cannot even begin to toss aside or denigrate, and a lot cannot even understand. To suggest that the utterly unacceptable rates of veteran suicide is somehow a result of the wool coming off is ludicrous at best, dangerously insulting at worst, because it assumes that every veteran is a blind stooge that somehow all committed war crimes and suck starts a pistol once a different viewpoint enters their brain. Patently false. I think its exactly as Grifter said it originally. Refer back to his analysis, I dont need to repeat it. Vets that commit suicide never came home or tried and were made to feel like they still needed to defend their perimeter.think about that. The bottom line is this, say what you want about the wars, carry your opinions and hold your moral ground, but respect to those that serve, live, die or are sadly somewhere in between, is REQUIRED. I cannot speak to the essence of Grifters post because I have no right to except to say with some authority, that Im here for anyone that needs it. I may not have shared a 3rd world shithole (they may be sovereign but still a shithole) but I shared the uniform and the respect is there. I may not comprehensively understand the issues that are faced, but I understand them A LOT more than someone who never served at all. Out.

  220. What now? Get on with life. No, it isn’t easy, but generation after generation of men have who have returned from war and know the meaning of the bonds forged in battle; know the anguish of losing brothers; and know that ultimately what he did as an individual or as part of a team has little impact on the final outcomes. I’ve deployed three times; lost half my team in the most horrific manner, and deal with TBI and PTSD each day (and night). I have people, however, who depend on me to show up every day. They are too young to know and hopefully will never know the ugliness of war. It is for these that we must not tarry too long wondering "what now", but rather do the most for with the time we have left.

  221. Grifter,Thank you for articulating this amazing piece. I spent 16 years in the service of this country; enlisted and an officer – active and reserve – deployed multiple times in all categories. I recently transferred to the IRR having spent most of my adult life giving it to this man’s Army and recently returning from a combat command; I could no longer chew the fat associated with burying Soldiers, a divorce and a quality of life most complain is boring. It was a tax I was unwilling to pay anymore. I have some very close friends and lady that I am hoping will one day be me wife. I have been unable to articulate what my service meant to me and this article did just that. Thank your for capturing the soul of a generation in such a well written article. As for the question of what now? For me – live. I am the eternal evangelist of serviceman young and old. I am the patriot. I am the guy that scorns people for talking during the national anthem – even if it is just on the TV. What Now? Take what I know to be true and live – to not let experiences like yours and all of the others that served die in some watered down history book so that the world forgot the tax that was paid.

  222. This is easily the most articulate description of the story of the GWOT veteran. So simple, yet profound.

  223. I have read your whole story. I understand all the bull you have to go through. And the frustration you all going through. I went in 1067 served tell 1970 and I learned alot. Not the F Bum or all the excusess. But as a combat personal I fought with all my Ranger at night. We were always in the middle of something every night. I did not know if I ever get Home. But at least as a Sargent of my group of men. I new what to do, because my Father was a military men. So I had a lot of respect for his military duties and a Navy Captain. As for you all just come out go to Collagee or go to a trade school. Just like the military gave me all my expenses. It was good training. But i went out and made something of my self. Not just stand there and cry about what I was going to do. Thanks for your story and God Bless you. Let me know if I can help Sgt Army 75th unit Rangers.

  224. I’ve followed the war closely while my son trained with the 1/6 Marines then deployed to Marjah. I’ve also noticed the present administrations attempt to disassociate itself from the war in an attempt to appear peaceful to the Arab community. And the presses attempt to lambast the previous administrations attempt, from an aircraft carrier, to applaud the efforts of the finest military force in the world.I’ll tell you what I told my son: You feel the way you do because you did it the right way. It wasn’t easy, and no one will understand unless they were there too. 3500 people were murdered and you were the only ones to do anything about it. Just know that there are many of us that are eternally grateful and are inspired by the actions of "the few". You may not hear us, but we are there. Thanks for crystallizing my thoughts in this post.That being said, my son is in school and going in a direction. I’m not sure where he’ll end up, but it’s the right direction. Please don’t be another casualty of the enemy. The Talaban is waiting for you to quit. DON’T LET THEM WIN. Pick a direction. There are many to chose from. Take pride in the fact that it may never match what you did there…but you’re not using that as an excuse to quit.JJ

  225. Grifter respect your service , I served in this war also from 02 to 13, tours as a combat medic and in a SOF capacity. I would disagree with your current viewpoint. I work with getting our Homeless Vets of the streets and in to stable housing and on a path to leading a productive life (If they choose to accept the help) . That is my new mission back at home using soft skills not the killing skills we had to use before. Grifter the war hasn’t been worth fighting for years ( it has been noted in past posts that we spent blood and treasure will nilly on the wrong wars for the wrong reasons Afghan and routing the AQ and initial Taliban defenders excluded , anything post 03 in AFG waste of time) , all folks are doing, is going over for "another rotation" with real danger of losing life or limb for a mission even the Generals cant explain. Guys like Grif are the ones I see who become very close to the edge , homeless, addicted , frustrated . Counselling and some real critical thinking to actually look at the whole conflict through more than a video game ( Bad guys and Good guys , Asskickers and REMFS, Sheepdogs and Sheep) lens. Grifs mysoginism and immaturity shines through, not one mention of our brave women troops who have served so professionally in this conflict……………………………………………………………………… Yes people have done their duty , some have done extraordinary duty , but in the end thats what it was , no one is going to write Sagas about them like the Iliad or Aeneid. There will be no processions and Gladiatorial games in Yankee stadium to mark the " Triumphs" of GWOT Vets…This is an attitude that is destroying lives long after this war has officially ended, and its partially on the soldier /Vet and partially on the indoctrination they bought into. The Troops / Vets who were more open minded and didnt buy into the Warrior/ Spartan/ 300 nonsense tend to fare much better after they take off the boots for good ………

  226. Stand tall, lead. Do not miss a sunrise, ice cream cone or a swim in the ocean. Breath deep. Feel your life for all your days. Keep writing it is your gift.

  227. Hey bud…here is my answer to your what now question? First of all most of us think that Afghanistan and Iraq are the only places in the world with conflict. You and I both know that’s not true. If Soldier’s want to continue being bad asses I would recommend Special Operations. There are a wide range of things a unique Soldier can do with in the Special Ops Community. I wold also recommend to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Yeah the war is over but not your life. America don’t owe any of us anything, the sooner we as Soldiers realize that, the better. I didn’t deploy 1 time to Iraq and 3 times to Afghanistan to get a pat on the back. I did it because I loved it, we shouldn’t care about the recognition, "I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it anyway" (Tobe Keith). Lastly bud good writing I enjoyed reading it. A little about myself, I’m a conventional Airborne Ranger who came in two years prior to 9-11. And let me tell you thinking your about to go jump in only gods knows where was pretty scary. Let’s get that quite professional back. "AATW, RLTW"

  228. Thank you for sharing this man. I did one turn to Afghanistan in 2010, and then parted from the Army in 2012. It had less to do with the politics than a simple realization that I wasn’t like most of my comrades. Simply put, I’m more of an intellectual than a tough guy. (you can read that as nerd…) I kept up with you big dogs just fine, and I performed my duty honorably. But I realized my heart wasn’t in it like it was for some of the guys. Since parting from the Army, I’ve taken up graduate study in psychology (mostly because of having had the honor of working with soldiers) and taken a hard look at some of the issues that you’ve so aptly illustrated above. Without inundating you with graduate speak, i’ll simply say that I hope you continue writing. I don’t agree with everything you’ve said, but you’ve said it well (as have several individuals below, specifically the recent post from "siop"). I hope you can find an answer to your question.

  229. Well said my friend, whoever you are. I always and involuntarily judge the people that I meet against the following standard: Are they living a life worthy of the sacrifices that the members of the military have made on their behalf? Most are found incredibly wanting against this standard. However, I have made piece with them in the following way. I know that the people I served with are better men (I was in SOF, so women were in support roles), than the lot of the sorry losers who comprise the majority of the civilian world. So in order to honor those men, I strive to accomplish in the business world absolutely as much as I can. Then I give back to the guys still on active duty and their families.I also keep my rifle clean, 40 rounds loaded, my hatchet scoured, and maintain myself ready to march on a moment’s notice. The complete creeps and losers who comprise most of our politicians might need a 7.62mm round in the forehead some day.

  230. once i made some goals for myself at home i finally started to get a sense of happiness."The only hero’s are dead"

  231. Powerful. Thanks Grifter for what you and your men did (your job) and for writing this.

  232. Saddam is dead & gone. OBL is dead & gone. And a clear message has been sent to would-be terrorists and despots. Some very significant things have been achieved. The coalition of the free democratic countries doesn’t need to be an occupying force. Occupation is not a strategy to defeat terrorism, it only makes it worse.Pulling out is the right decision, but the war ain’t over. There will still be the need for surgical strikes and clandestine operations. The GWOT will continue but it will revert to it’s previous form. The one that has always been going on behind the scenes. Hell when the were two major wars going on, most people still had no clue! The world will still need Operators.

  233. All star in corporate America. Rejected by the branch. Loner with nothing to lose. Suicide may be the only choice. Reinforced by this article here. Worthless

  234. This was so incredibly sad for me to read. Mostly because our son was lost to us in Afghanistan. People thank me for my sacrifice and I sometimes reply "Don’t thank me, I tried to stop him." But he wanted to go. In fact he had always wanted to go. We had successfully stopped him twice. In the end, how do you stop a 30 year old. I had seen what Viet Nam had done to the returning soldiers and I wanted no part of that for him or our family. Most of what is to come when Afghanistan is a memory will be similar. I would bet my entire years salary that this is the tip of the iceberg. Yes this nation is cruel and unfair as is life in general, but let’s face it not very many can actually be called "hero". You who have returned have a special mission….to keep the honor and memories of our fallen heros alive. I say, "Now that the music has stopped, do diligence to your fallen brothers in arms, our nations treasure, that is lost to this world along with it the greatness and power of their character and the fiber of their being. The greatness of a nation is not measured by the gold it hoards in the vaults of its banking institution, but by the moral character and backbone of its people. Take back this nation and ‘right’ its course. Who else can do it? Who else is left to lead? Who else can come to this fight, but those who have been knee deep it the blood of our lost ones. Afghanistan is just training for what lies ahead. You have a new purpose now.The fools who are in leadership have no stomach for what is real. They shrink from the truth and reality of your ability and your skills. Don’t let them beat you down and back with the rhetoric that deceives the ill informed citizens. They do this because they know and fear your power. Do not despair there will come a day when your special skills will be called upon again."

  235. I saw my friends get physically and emotional scarred from IEDs and ambushs and each one that could stand up, did and went back out the wire only because he knew he had to be there for the platoon for his brothers, you don’t find that kind of heart at home.

  236. Great article man. My Dustoff unit was the last in Iraq- flying south to Kuwait Dec 2011. Our unit also Evac’d the last IED wounded and KIA of the war. I disagree that we left with ears and tails tucked, but we simply shut the door and turned out the lights. Parties over. Post deployment hasn’t been that exciting, but a few Vietnam Vets have let me know that we are not alone. I think we have an instant understand of each other now, nowhere else in Civ life have I found that. Bought a new Harley- and the open road is a great place.

  237. This is the best reflective essay I’ve read in years. It sums up how I felt after all three of my conflicts since despite the bloodshed, the USG doesn’t consider some operations as warfare. While the nightmares will never go away, time will eventually sand down some of the jagged edges. But what we’re all left with is strong psychological congruity: camaraderie toward our buddies and a sense of having fulfilled out duty. Only death can take that away from us. Stay the course and keep writing. We need younger voices in the public forum.

  238. Think about the atrocities of the World Wars. What did they do? Come home, start a family, build a farm, get away from all the stir, booze, drugs, media. You’ve put not only a down payment on your future, but your families. Service is not easy, War is not easy, but the road ahead is.

  239. I could sit here and write a 1 million word essay about the army, Afghanistan, leaving the army and then adapting into ‘normal life’ but I still couldnt hit the nail on the head. Sadly for me like many normal life just isnt good enough, you could offer me 100,000 to rejoin the army and I would laugh and say no but if you offered me 10 to go back to nad-e-ali south with my boys and stay there doing what we did for the next 40 years I might just snap your hand off! I have a good job earning good money, a beautiful girl at home, my own house and a set of family and friends you couldnt dream of but I think of Afghanistan every single day and how I would love to be there again… Sad really considering what I have but this is what it does to you (maybe just me)They will forget the war, the war will forget me but I will never forget the war.

    1. Grifter wrote a great article, but your comment here also hit home. Thanks for your thoughts, Brother, I understand. I really do, I understand. Mine was a bridge on MSR Tampa. My platoon lived under that bridge for 7 months as a place to launch patrols and react to all the shit that was going down on the MSR, which was a lot. I would go back there, any day. It just doesn’t make sense, but then again…it does. You’re right, 1,000,000 words ain’t enough to get the idea across.

    2. I feel the same way brother. My biggest problem is the lack of purpose adjusting to civilian life. Over there, life was in a way, so much simpler. You live or die, there is moral ambiguity, but for the most part you know what is right and wrong. I was a medic, I had no shit purpose. I had the welfare of my boys in my hands and they had mine in theirs. I miss my military family, I try to connect with people but I’ve lost respect for my civilian peers. Their priorities seem ridiculous to me. I walk around and talk to people back in the States and I feel like I’m just going through the motions. They’re wrapped up in bullshit that shouldn’t matter to anyone and when I try to be honest and point out how much their problems shouldn’t matter to them in the big picture it just pisses them off. I try to have patience because I know my perception of reality is seen through the lens of my experiences and they haven’t been there, but fuckin A I’m sick of wearing this mask of acceptance. I have a great life, a beautiful woman, but I think about roaming around the Stan as a man every night. Sometimes when I’m out at bars I wish I was wearing my armor and my nods creeping around with my boys, instead of drinking my face off just to tolerate the conversations I’m having with the garden variety douche-bags I’m surrounded by. I dunno man, maybe I’m just a bitter fuck who needs to harden up, but feeling like I’m alone in a crowd gets old after a while.

  240. I’m an FMF corpsman who served with G/2/26 & D/1/4, RVN 1966-1967!! The Marines of those two rifle companies were in their finest hour!!! Their dedication to one another was that of warriors, who lived and died for each other!! Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them, especially those who gave all!! Grifter, you rendered honors to all you served with in a way, that no one else who wasn’t there, could have!!!! Kudos & Bravo Zulu brother!! Doc Greenough

  241. Well said.http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/tommy.htmlI went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,The publican ‘e up an’ sez, "We serve no red-coats here."The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I: O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ "Tommy, go away"; But it’s "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play, The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it’s "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

  242. You know, I’m really not sure if PTSD was not as big of a problem in WWII as it is today. Its hard to compare numbers on that. WWII was a conflict involving over 6 million servicemen & there being 450,000 KIA-much more than the 10K that weve lost between Iraq & Afghan. Never made it Afghan but I have one pump as an 0311 in OIF, and 3 years PSS (1 DOD and 2 DOS PSS), so in a very humble way, I feel compelled to comment on the subject. That and, like most guys, my Grandfathers were great men who served in combat in WWII.In WWII, the whole U.S. population was affected by the war. 99.9% supported the war & the troops. PTSD was still there; nightmares, flashbacks, etc but generally there wasn’t as much anger associated with it (that is just my perception, I could be wrong). The returning vets achieved (they were allowed to) full victory, and came home to a country that had literally sacrificed tires & meat in order to give them this victory. Everyone seemed to understand the stakes of what losing would have meant, & the general populous followed Veteran’s struggle in detail every time they went to a movie (opening war update before movie). Overall, was there massive psychological trauma? Yes. Anger? Not as much. Not for WWII vets. At least that is my perception. My thoughts turn to Ira Hayes and if there are any quotations from him that are revealing. Still makes my heart feel empty thinking of him laying in that ditch all alone. I can’t help but think about that.We all know that Vietnam Veterans had it the worst. They received the opposite of WWII vets: few supported them; even less supported their mission. They had psychological trauma that wasnt balanced by clear cut victory or the notion that people shared in their sacrifice.The experience Vets receive today is hit or miss. How many of the general population know how common it is to go to an infantry battalion, and hear America is not at war, America is at the mall? The guys know what’s up. They been fighting anyway and they will always fight anyway. No matter what. They are only balanced by the 15% of America (maybe) that goes out of their way to let them know they care about them & support their mission. Politicians have not defined the GWOT mission well, to put it mildly. Guys like Amos don’t balance the situation or offer sound wisdom to elements of stupid civilian leadership. I understand the moral imperative that drives counterinsurgency but it just isn’t working. I want to help women not get treated like donkey’s as much as the next guy, but we need to annihilate the people that are treating them like donkeys first. Back stateside, the victim mentality and the ‘look at me, I’m special’ bullshit in society is commonplace, and encouraged in the mainstream. Everything is about feeling, not about thinking. The only place where critical thinking is alive anymore is in business community, because there at least nothing is guaranteed, that is unless they can convince a crooked politician to give them favored status. I’m meandering now, but those are your anger components. Vets speak truth as it is whereas most grown adults in the U.S. are fucking lying to themselves on a daily basis and haven’t even considered the most basic questions surrounding their own existence. I think Vets see those people and say "oh that guy, he’s a mindless civilian shitbag…hell no I will not hang out with that guy." There is your isolation component. For my part, I haven’t been able to find a Vet group and force myself to follow-through. I’ve just met a good dude here and there and that has been enough to keep me afloat to vent and feel like I can be understood, if just for a moment. The VFW is not my style, sorry boys if its yours. I went there and got told that I couldn’t where a HTP hat at the table during a casual dinner. Not during the meeting, during weenies in BBQ sauce made by some old vets wife. I never went back.

  243. The world should read this poetic introspection. Never in this mother’s/grandmother’s life have I experienced what I read so virtually, and I don’t know why I can feel what you feel when my life has been such a cush. You have allowed me into your most private thought and emotion.I must say to all. You will never know how appreciated you actually are. We have no idea how to express it. And yes, when you come home and put on your shirt and jeans, you completely conceal the hero you are to those who pass you on the street. Tickertape parades also become a memory like the cast party at the end of a long-runing play.A better way to think might be to see that society honors rather than dishonors you through the Hollywood medium. Movie stars and films are the only vicarious way we of the cush can begin to understand what you have sacrificed and what it can possibly be like to be so patriotic that you are willing to give your lives for the sake of the cushes so they will continue to live in freedom. Just how would we be living now if it weren’t for you and your fathers and grandfathers?I am no fan of Hollywood, but I know there is always something very good in the seemingly bad. And, thanks to your poignant article I know that you are the true stars. Go forth in the knowing of the greatness of you that we could not possibly comprehend until we join up and become one of you. Thank you is so trite. Bless you all…

  244. Wow! That has got to be one of the best articles I’ve read…ever….when it comes to our soldiers and what being in the middle of the sh*t really means. Some of us here do appreciate you guys and are ever thankful for your service and sacrifice. It’s unfortunate that we don’t control enough of the media to make sure ya’ll know it. Thank you and bless you.

  245. I wish I had a answer that would give you peace you your "what now?" Question but I do not. As a Army Wife I want to say thank you for everything you’ve done and please know that I have the upmost respect! Your article is very well written and full of emotion! Thank you for sharing it!

  246. I’m not going to analyze. But I’m a veteran of GWOT and a lot of what you wrote echoes my own truth. Some of it doesn’t. Regardless thanks for posting it because it hits home for a lot of us who hadn’t had the courage to think about it let alone put it in words.

  247. very powerful article and well written. I can relate to all of it. After 13 years of service and 6 deployments I too am wondering "what’s next?"

  248. When I left the Marine Corps, they gave me a check for $2700 and a plane ticket. I had to get a job before the money ran out, because I got divorced on the Drill Field and was raising my two kids on my own. My ex-wife just disappeared. Six months later I received a letter from HQ Marine Corps stating that they over payed me by $600. Needless to say, I had no money and my credit went bad because of this debt. My only thought was, How could I miss the over payment? No problem, they took it from my next tax return check that I was going to use for other bills.My son recently got out of the Marine Corps. He is actually going to school full time, feeding his family, making a car payment and a mortgage payment with out working, thanks to the benefits of the military.My point is that the generation of "self entitlement" is alive and well in our military.I think that someone should give the author of this whiny rant a huge cross, so that every time he feels unappreciated for his self sacrifice, he can go nail himself to it.There was nothing in your enlistment contract that said you would be honored and revered at every street corner. You received your "agreed to" compensation for serving. There are many professions that keep a parent from seeing their kids grow up, but you don’t hear them whining. Oh, but YOUR cause was more important, Right? I’m pretty sure there are many professions that will result in some kind of PTSD. But YOURS is worse, Right?I can’t go anywhere without the military being recognized for their service. Something that didn’t happen 20 years ago. I stand along side everyone else with my pride for our military. I truly think that they are the only ones worthy of the title "Hero". But I hear this self entitled rant from people who served and I just want to tell them, Shut your pie hole!!Tell your stories of your experiences to your friends and family as the truth should be told, Hell, you can even write a book, like all the Navy SEALs do, but don’t think anyone owes you anything more than what you agreed to receive as compensation for your service. You’re making all the military look like a bunch of greedy cry babies.

    1. In essence, the anguish that GWOT vets are feeling and leading to a suicide epidemic is to be written off as something to be expected from service and we all should get over it and move on? A very easily stated sentiment from someone that didn’t serve in the GWOT.

  249. When I left the Marine Corps, they gave me a check for $2700 and a plane ticket. I had to get a job before the money ran out, because I got divorced on the Drill Field and was raising my two kids on my own. My ex-wife just disappeared. Six months later I received a letter from HQ Marine Corps stating that they over payed me by $600. Needless to say, I had no money and my credit went bad because of this debt. My only thought was, How could I miss the over payment? No problem, they took it from my next tax return check that I was going to use for other bills.My son recently got out of the Marine Corps. He is actually going to school full time, feeding his family, making a car payment and a mortgage payment with out working, thanks to the benefits of the military.My point is that the generation of "self entitlement" is alive and well in our military.I think that someone should give the author of this whiny rant a huge cross, so that every time he feels unappreciated for his self sacrifice, he can go nail himself to it.There was nothing in your enlistment contract that said you would be honored and revered at every street corner. You received your "agreed to" compensation for serving. There are many professions that keep a parent from seeing their kids grow up, but you don’t hear them whining. Oh, but YOUR cause was more important, Right? I’m pretty sure there are many professions that will result in some kind of PTSD. But YOURS is worse, Right?I can’t go anywhere without the military being recognized for their service. Something that didn’t happen 20 years ago. I stand along side everyone else with my pride for our military. I truly think that they are the only ones worthy of the title "Hero". But I hear this self entitled rant from people who served and I just want to tell them, Shut your pie hole!!Tell your stories of your experiences to your friends and family as the truth should be told, Hell, you can even write a book, like all the Navy SEALs do, but don’t think anyone owes you anything more than what you agreed to receive as compensation for your service. You’re making all the military look like a bunch of greedy cry babies.Semper Fi.

    1. Apparently, you missed the point of this article. However, way to go about supporting our fellow former Marines. I got out, honorably, learned a skill set that makes me extremely marketable and I’m doing well for myself, however, this is to draw attention to those veterans I’ve served with, who feel jaded enough by not only society but the government that asked us to do our jobs as well. As I told the gentleman above, you have not helped anyone nor contributed anything useful to the issue. Perhaps YOU, should shut your pie hole, or at least read my most recent article. I think I’ve managed to clear up a few things for those that lack reading comprehension. Semper Fi

  250. I had five Uncles that were all in WWII at the same time. Three in Europe and two in the Pacific. One of them you can actually see on one of LIFE Magazines film clips on the beach in Normandy. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which was subsequent to the battle fought in the movie Band of Brothers. He talked about some horrific events, but I never heard him mention anything about being unappreciated. But then again, he didn’t have the internet. My uncles lived out their lives, raising there kids, living their lives and all died in their 90’s. I think THAT was their "what now?"

    1. I agree. I definitely think they are the greatest generation for a reason. I think they came back, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, and were able to carry on because that chapter in the world was, for the most part, over. They knew what needed to be done. My newest article is, I think, what needs to be done for MY generation.

  251. Grifter,Were you drafted or did you volunteer? You can probably volunteer to go back as a contractor and make some decent cash, but you won’t get any appreciation for your efforts there either. What upsets me is that they only put two pickles on a cheeseburger at McDonald’s. Why not three? At least cover the burger, right? Are pickles that expensive?

  252. stop complaining. USMC stand for U SIGNED THE MOTHERFUCKING CONTRACT. am i happy marines are wounded phyically and psychologically? of course not. you signed up to be a soldier, nobody drafted you. nobody is saying you "wasted" you life. that’s you projecting and putting words in people’s mouths. your job was to do what the suits in washington told you to do, and you did it. you think it was mismanaged? well then go become a senator/represenative/shot-caller. the public cares about bieber more cause he’s an entertainer. he generates advertising revenue on tv when they talk about him, so they follow his every move. its entertainment news. its about M O N E Y . theres no money in talking about dead soldiers. thats the real world man. thank you for your service, but nobody is here to pat you on the back. you reap the accolades and benefits of being a veteran, as well as (unfortunately) the physical and psychological scars.

    1. That was very helpful. I’m glad to see such a contribution to the discussion of the current veteran suicide epidemic.

  253. To Frank……..Go fuck yourself you yellow bellied coward who probably hide behind your mommy every time any type of fight broke out.

  254. Teach your children the truth as you lived it. That fir all the treacherous demagoguery of the Democrats, Saddam was a wicked bastard who violated his cease fire way too often and the Iraqis WERE happy to see me on the streets of Baghdad.

  255. haha sure gary. whatever you gotta tell yourself you get through the day buddy. you must be in a shirt and bad tie stuck in traffic. i love marines and all you super tough guys. but jeez sometimes you sound like a bunch of over the hill guys with bad knees at a bar reminisning about the "good ole days’ when you were the shit on your high school football team.

    1. We feel like a bunch of over the hill guys with bad knees and i won’t dispute that, but we revisit and talk about that stuff because its the only way to deal with the hell we volunteered to go through. Maybe you should listen in on one of those conversations and really pay attention because you might learn something Frank. Please don’t compare what we did to high school again, because it wasn’t.

  256. Thank you for that. As an Army wife who lost my husband to suicide it was a great informative read. I glanced at some of the negative comments posted, and all I will say is don’t let then discourage you. I encourage you to continue to try to bring to light the thoughts and struggles of those now home from war. Hopefully it will help at the very least slow down this epidemic of suicide our soldiers face. Thanks again.

  257. Aging helps.When I first got out I damn near went crazy with the sheer boredom of civilian life. I had done three WestPacs, went to the first Gulf War, and then Somalia, and had endured six of the best/worst years of my life…and then BOOM–tossed into the shallow, insipid waters of civilian life. I missed EVERYTHING about the Corps—the adventure, the brotherhood, the partying and the fights, the rush you feel after a good pt session—EV-RE-THANG!! But I’m in my forties now, and finally adjusting. It’s taken twenty years, but now I appreciate boredom. I’ve come to realize that boredom is a luxury. Over my six years on active duty, my units lost 14 men. And many more maimed. Those who are maimed–mentally and/or physically—sure as hell aren’t bored. Everyday is a struggle for them. I remind myself of that. I’m DAMN LUCKY to be bored.

  258. We can preserve our stories in veteran service organizations. Most of the VFWs and American Legions have a huge age gap. My thoughts are that if the Iraq and Afghan vets swell these organizations with our ranks, not only will we be able to continue to hear the stories of brotherhood from the Korea & Vietnam vets, we’ll also have a platform to tell and preserve our own.-VFW Post 1 Member

  259. im in tears becaouse u are right this is vieatnam all over agaian i know i havent seen a real battle feildi was a welder during a time when the country was being rebuilt by these guys the were my best freinds and family the only reason i wasnt aloud 2 serve was i was flat footed and my fathers only son when i was 18 i treied but please see it a little our way our way we had our hearts and our minds and prayers concentrated on the soul perpous of hoping that as many sons daughters fathers mothers and kin would come home so we could love u in our arms agaian ive got a lot of family in the milatary fromevery war america has just about fought and i gave plasma 4 a company where it went straight to the milatary 4 twice a week 4 2years so much so i have 2 be on on perscription strength vitaman pills and praying2 god that that al least 1 drop brought some ones loved one home and that regardless of what they have 2 deal with that there loved 1 come home yes we lobied hard 4 ure return we got what attacked our home land and killed it let them start 2 take up demacracy its ther turn 2 fight 4 what is right and just 4 them we just wanted our loved ones home safe with out the fear of a whistle of incoming even though it may never go away ure coming home and trust me when i say we need u here more now then any time in our countrys life yall are the ones that know how 2 stand up agaianst whats happening here more than any one im 40 i grew up being told all what happened in the past wars and there words still haunt me 2 this day iwake up with dreams i shouldnot have of being in the war in the bush becaouse of being told the truth about what really went on and what really had 2 be done being slung up agaianst the wall 4 waking my grandpa up who served in korea so basically there is a place right here at home 4 u ther is still a job well suited 4 u helping us get this country and everything it stands 4 back where it belongs we as a nation that bleed 4 u so u could come home to us please brother take up the good fight and lets put our homes and familys back 2 gather agaian before we do lose what is known as america the home of the free and no doubt the brave my ure nightmares stop may ure hands be washed and may u find peace in a land that morned 4 u from the very day yall left a simple citazan eric c mullins and god bless u and forgive u 4 what we made u do

  260. With a son in the armed services who did a tour in Afghanistan I can only appreciate what you did, what you sacrificed. Please know that when a stranger wants to shake your hand or someone shyly thanks you for your service, its because they remember the Vietnam vets, and how society confused the individual soldier with the policies of their government. They want to recognize you for the special human being that you are, thank you for doing what most of us can’t do. You are a special breed of men and women, and we are thankful that you are there for us. I can only hope that somehow we can make you feel and know deep down that we care deeply for what you are going through and do want to help you in whatever way we can. Some of us can only reach out to a stranger, shake their hand and thank them for their service. But we care, deeply. Thank you all for who you are.

  261. Every single word is spot on and perfect! Thank you for writing this. I will share this with my son when he redeploys!

  262. Wait 20-30 yeas and you can virtually repost this, just change the countries and the key players names. If you want something to post now, that shows similar feelings, just check out some of the archived editorial comments from the Vietnam era. Again, just change the countries and a few names. Go further back to Korea and WW I, you can see more of the same. WW II, the Spanish/American war and most of the earlier was were different. The population cared, the press supported them and the veterans were respected when they came home. Not something we are likely to see again.As a nation we don’t pay much attention to history.

  263. This is not about "self entitlement" and many that think that are missing the point. Not to mention, you lot clearly discredit/disrespect this post, ideas, beliefs, facts, cases, lives and lives lost out there… those that have fallen to a life of disconnection, alienation, and suicide.Maybe some don’t get it or see it because they’re still around it in some way? Maybe it’s just that you have no deep appreciation for those you served with? I get it, everyone’s a brother and sister who serves, right? Right…to a degree.I don’t put limits on words like: love, family, friendship, brother/sisterhood, life, and help. Clearly there are those that do. So some of you have a great life without any problems, that excellent (really) and I’m proud for you. If you’re going to ridicule and criticize a post that touches on the thoughts and feelings that many vets are suffering from, of which their very life is in question, you have no right claiming anyone who you served with is a brother or sister. You clearly, ultimately, and without doubt place limits on your life. You’re a "fair weather friend" and obviously self-serving to your "holier than thou" attitude. You’re part of the problem, not the solution. Stop being part of the problem. We’re not here to compare dicks or tits, we’re here to collectively support each other through the only means many of us have: the power of words and LISTENING.Well then, instead of posting as being a brother or sister to the uniformed family, why not put your brain in gear before you shift to your mouth; do something to reach out and help those that you so call claim to be your brothers. Not everyone is an elite emotionless robot. Spare me your thousand yard stares. This is not about you. This is not about many of us. This is about recognizing that people many of hold more dear to our hearts than (perhaps) our own blood family members are left with a lot of time, drugs, and the means to end their lives. They left one war where the enemy was clearly defined (tried to kill you) to come back to a life of peace, but are still dying.Acknowledge the facts that show a lot of your proclaimed family members are dealing with. Something is wrong here. People are still dying. You can take an experienced soldier out of the military, but you can’t take the military experiences out of the soldier. I give a crap if it’s 1 life lost, 2 lives, 400, or a thousand. 1 life lost is 1 too many.If many of us knew we were going to have to come face to face with this post-war/service demon, a demon who takes many forms and lives inside us that we never knew existed, but we knew it could cost us our lives after, would we have juiced up our moral and balls and still went to serve? Before you preach to me some gung-ho blurb about "fight America’s enemies" and "protect those I love", I want you to think about your family, loved ones, and your children before answering that. Then, I want you to educate yourself on the happenings throughout the course of War in the Middle East that we (seek) the facts for. Look into the Soviet’s invasion and what our Nation did, take note of who we supported and why. Then tell me, do you "really" think you were over there to stop "terrorists" ? (Many have no clue what one is or what I’m talking about)So I ask you, what kind of person would trade the rest of his/ her days of never being able to support his/ her family (Protect and Serve them) just for the sake of getting to experience war and killing? (Someone who has little self worth of their self and their family’s, I’d wager).And while, yes, we all signed up for it and took that Oath on our own, your indifference or self-righteous (diluted) thoughts reflect upon and expose the true nature of your character. Do not call me a brother and do not dare to call others one as well. "For he who stands with me and sheds his blood with me…"… does that mean anything to you?There is a war going on back home. People, my brothers and sisters, are still dying. Death is death, no matter how one is met by it, be it on a battlefield or sitting on a porch at home. That so many would dare lay claim to calling those who wore the uniform as being their brothers and sisters… if you cannot get off your high horse and still support us and them, realize that not everyone else is you, you have no say on this subject. Ever.OAF Nation has become a heartbeat for me and others. It’s a living breathing pulse. It’s raw and not diluted. It’s pure and not tarnished. It’s healing, not cutting. The support and comfort is as close and meaningful to real life as is holding my loved ones in my arms.The people here with the courage, insight, respect, and admiration for others and themselves, who dare take that first step to admitting they have a problem and/ or want help or just to help… they offer something tangible, substantial, intellectually stimulating, and invigorating to keep OAF Nation’s pulse strong. To keep people alive, I daresay!Respect it. Remember the fallen. Honor them for whatever way they left, be it shadow or light. There’s still an enemy among us, inside us, so come here to "Protect and Defend" their lives, their cost, our lives, our cost.Don’t come here to spit on graves or fan the flames of the war we’re trying to win; save lives, save lost souls. Our cause is just. Our will unshaken. You’ll find nothing but justified pity (by the humble) and outrage (by the not-so-humble). In my case, you’ll get both… for I do pity you for continuing to live your life so closed-off from the reality and gravity of this situation that people like -Grif, -Nico, and the other mates @ OAF Nation are addressing… are taking timeoutoftheirlivestogivesomethingpositive_back. My outrage? That you’re a sorry excuse for a human and dishonor the memories of those who fell into darkness by their own trembling hands, or are staring into the black waters at the edge of their personal abyss. The fact that there are some who have worn the uniform and spit our way or try to naively believe we’re out to reap profits for ourselves in this fight… You may as well burn that uniform and strike all words of "brotherhood" from your mind. You do not own that right.Some of us, when we took that Oath, took it to heart. Just because we’re not lacing up and putting boots on the ground, doesn’t mean that Oath holds any less meaning. We’re still fighting the good fight.-Grif, and all OAF Nation troops, keep this motivatin’, inspiratin’, and rejuvinatin’ up!

  264. Last week we saw tommies laying down wire and walking it back in the middle of the night…guess what we did with that PID…? …we just watched..FML

  265. You’re right bro, and I feel bad. But guess what? Members of Congress make up roughly a millionth (.000001) of the population while GWOT vets make up .45% We must commit to making this country everything we THOUGHT it was while we were fighting for it…and we can, but we must bring our brothers and sisters along. I believe the only people worthy of guiding the direction of their nation is those who have already sworn an oath to give their life for it. Keep strong and remember #22kill

  266. My son, I can’t say I know how you feel! You and my Daddy did what our country asked of you! I mourn the loss of every soldier that laid there life down for our country! Too many soldiers have died during this war, especially since Bush left office. We have not had the support we needed. We are backing out, it will only be a short time until we feel the pain of attacks from our enemies once again!!!! I send my love to all who have served and are now serving!!!!!!

  267. Absolutely beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this & I agree with others; you have a gift in writing.

  268. Dear God why have we(and I mean the higher ups and our great leader) don’t give a flying fu#^ about these wonderful men and I MEAN MEN“They risked their lives very second of everyday,some to barely make it home alive and only God knows what they will go through ALL of their lives.Some came home with a Flag lain across their casket,leaving behind a wife and young children who will never see daddy again-if they even saw him.AAnd now you uppity ups want to just let them fend for themselves.?That my friends is pure unadulterated Bullshit.There are no other printable words I can say here.We as a once Great Country NEED to Stand up and tell the Higher ups we will not stand for treating our troops like they were throwaways playing Army.I implore you to write Washington,your senator and if you see and young seriously wounded but alive soldier,you better do more than shake his hand.Tell him your PROUD of him,you’re backing him with petitions to DC to get more help for those so,so damaged and does he need anything.Then be a proud US citizen,you salute that MAN!!!!

  269. Thank you. Continue to write. And never, never believe we don’t need you. Things change so quickly. I’ll continue to keep you and al the brave men who have spent their lives fighting for me in my prayers.

  270. Well done, you put into words what so many of us have been thinking and feeling for a while now. Keep up the great work. SEMPER FI!

  271. I only did 26 months in OIF, four years AA, and am finishing out four in the Guard, but a lot of those feelings were still a substantial presence in my life for nearly three years. I also became a very dedicated EMT for two years. Some story though, I burned out on it. Holidays still do not mean much to me, for the longest time finding value in anything other then drink was a challenge. The VA is about is useful as you say, and eventually people do start treating you like a beloved outcast. Joining the military and doing what we do is like being reborn on another planet. The person you were when you joined gets put in stasis and a whole different person is created, as well as matures in a separate world. When we get out we have this idea that if we could handle that, its all going to be down hill from here. That just isn’t true. Civilian life is just as challenging, only it comes with a completely different set of rules. The hardest one to accept is that you are pretty much on your own. You don’t share that same common task that you and your buddies had, therefore you quickly feel abandoned by a world that you find you understand even less. For the longest time you have been the member of a team. Your whole world has been your left and right for years. Now it’s all about you. It takes time, but for me it was a matter of getting back in touch with who I really am. You can view all of this as a sign that your best days are over, and from a military stand point you may be correct. However, as an individual you have fought and truly earned a chance to start again. What did you love before the military? What made you, you? Don’t get caught up in the negative side of this world. You still live in the land of the free, and you can still be whatever you want. Ultimately, it takes time. Start slow. If all you can do at first is eat just enough food to survive sleeping through the day, that’s a victory. Robert Kiyosaki is a millionaire and a Vietnam vet. He was asked in an interview what gave him is drive once. He explained his veteran background and said "People died so that I could live. Giving up just isn’t an option". Take that as you may, but it resonated with me. Good luck, we’re still in this together.

  272. A powerful message, who’s primary purpose is to ask a question that I am forced to look into the mirror and ask myself daily. What now? When one has chosen to define their life by the profession of arms how does one then move beyond the need for his profession and intentions? Where do we go? What is next? Will we get what many of us desire? Another war. Will we get what is truly best? Peace. Either way I don’t know how things will play out but either option leaves me feeling drained and as if I’ll die one day scarred and broken or bitter and angry. Neither option is appealing. We need to find a new path for all of us. Without intending to sound melodramatic ours is about to become a lost generation that only our brothers and those who have worked in the affairs of veterans will understand and those who have not will seemingly only have either pity or apathy in their hearts for. Let us turn a lost generation into what our fore fathers were and who we always strive to emulate. Let us not stand on the shoulders of giants but stand should to shoulder with the giants of the Great Generation. I do not know the road to this end but we collectively must find it together and not allow our self pity, regret, trauma, or anger destroy us. There is hope for something better. Let’s find it.

  273. The idea that, in general, no one cares, nor even knows what you’ve done for them isn’t confined to Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else. It’s the result of not being instructed in appreciation. Our society is so self-centered that nothing anyone does impresses anyone else. ..The only hope is to build up your own self by taking pride in doing your job as well as you can, building up others by showing pride for them doing their jobs as well as they can, helping them with their needs, and then together helping others.

  274. Powerful stuff, but nothing new. This goes back to the citizen soldiers of Athens, who struggled to find meaning in their lives after returning to civilian life. It’s a transition every veteran goes through. It’s also something within your gift to decide. Make the decision to make your life meaningful yourself. Don’t expect someone else to do it. People do care about veterans. It’s just they care about their own lives and priorities more. We volunteered for this, and it was for the duty, not the recognition. Those lessons learned, values lived and sacrifices made put you in a far better place to make a success of your life. Now do so, brothers.

  275. Hey brother, you said: where do we go when the world no longer needs us? One word: POLITICS. WWII vets did it. GWOT vets need to get up and get politically active. Every election cycle some legit combat vets get up and run for congress. They need our support. If we want a legacy that is how we do it.

  276. I was recently contracted by the VA to create a program for educators in NC to learn about veteran issues, specifically those faced by vets coming home from OIF/OEF and trying to use that GI Bill to pay for school. I’d like your permission to use this magnificently written piece in my program. After reading it, I feel there is no better way to describe my (and the feelings of thousands of other vets’) feelings when we hit the home front. Please e-mail me at reardonj07@students.ecu.edu to grant permission or ask further questions.

    1. Email sent with no reply. You do have permission to use this, especially if it’s for a purpose.

  277. I will never be okay. That is to be expected. I live to support my family. That is how I do my brothers justice. I asked myself what would they do if they were here and I there. They would live. To address the War on Terror,No matter whether we are there or not they will not stop. Society can not ignore attacks on American soil and anyone who the illusion that we are safe is a fool. This is an evil enemy and they here in our country now. If you are hard headed or needs stats then google Acts of Terror on American soil. Look at the number of attempts dont just count the successful ones. We cant pull away from these ones boys. These jokers have no other purpose in life. No family. No job. No future. This is our reality. I am aware. I understand. What kills me is If you knew where a monster lived that killed four of your brothers what would you do to get your hands on it. Only we can answer that. I cannot go anymore. I will never be good at anything but I was built and bred to wage war. Waging War and believing in the War you Wage are polar opposites. I believe. How can a Man be wrong to kill hatred? But I cannot go anymore. I have to suppress my rage. I struggle everyday to blend in and have realized how much of an optical illusion I am. And if you don’t understand what I mean then I am not addressing you. Nothing will ever be as real, as pure or as funny. I have lived hard and fast. I am now just a husband and just a father. I would provide and I will raise great Americans. If trouble finds me then I dispatch it as I deem nessasary. Thank you to you guys who have said things and spoken words that only I and my brothers have spoke of. I have lived amongst men with unconditional love and zero judgement. I will never know anything greater. And…you can’t trust a man who’s never been in a fire fight.

  278. I never served in the military. my grandfather served. my dad served. a cousin of mine served. but I didn’t. however, I have the deepest respect for all of our men and women who have given of themselves to ensure our freedom. I know America is a twisted place that idolizes athletes and ignores veterans, and I’m ashamed of it. but I am one American who supports and honors you veterans. thank you for everything you’ve done.

  279. To my son, a vet of Afghanistan, 2 terms starting at 18 years of age, a Marine (still serving) AND to all the vets and those that have served not just Afghanistan or Iraq, but every war to date – YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN – maybe by some idiots that do not realize or appreiciate the sacrifices you have made – YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN – all the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, family and friends that have or know someone that served, that died or lived – YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN – You are loved and appreciated beyond measure by those of us, those Americans, that understand what you really sacrificed for each of us – YOU are NOT forgotten and YOU will ALWAYS be remembered! God Bless each of you and I pray he brings you peace and happiness.

    1. Beautifully put Teresa Rene LaFontaine thank you. All our soldiers please don’t feel alone, there are more people that support you than you know.

  280. I’m a career police sergeant in a large Midwestern city. I am not fit to carry a soldier’s or Marine’s sandals, but so much of what you say resonates with me on the local level. It is a job that you become so intertwined with it becomes you. Nearer then end than the beginning of my career, I often ponder what’s next? "The hardest thing about growing old is that other men stop seeing you as dangerous." -Act of Valor

  281. Grifter,You may think your mission is accomplished, but it isn’t. We need you at home more than we ever needed you in Ramadi or Fallujah. The document you swore a solemn oath to support and defend, the Constitution, is under attack at home. We need every man that fought in the GWOT to come home and help us in the next front of the war for freedom: our liberty.Semper Fideliswww.oathkeepers.org

  282. There is an answer. If you look for it, you know it when you find it. It cannot be told. It will not be given to you. You cannot take it. There is no glory in it. It will demand every ounce of your strength, every second of every day. It will not be an easy road. No one will hold your hand. But there is an answer, and you are not forgotten.

  283. TRUE THAT! I find farming and art through Art of war project helps a great deal now. Serve with friends and wake up helping myself to all hard living I was looking for. Nothing beats that boot kickoff feeling after going close to 12-18 hours straight.

  284. I am a military wife. My husband serves in the United States Marine Corps. Im not a part of his brotherhood. I didnt fight in his war(s). Im not in his trenches. Im not taking out the enemy. But, then again, I am. Every day is a battle. Whether it is storming the gates of Congress, or encouraging my once-again deployed husband despite the fact that Im alone (again) and the roof is leaking (again). I know I stand on the sidelines; I know I am just a military wife; but MEN.THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER! Stand up and fight. Stand up and defend what you promised to uphold all of those years ago. Our United States Constitution the people are who you fight for. The battle may be changing, but it is not over. WE (THE PEOPLE) STILL NEED YOU. Our administration may belittle your efforts. Some may scorn your history. But I, my children, and many others, will never stop needing you to stand up and fight. Your fight may look, sound, smell and taste different; but in the end it is still the same. YOU ARE OUR WARRIORS. You are the cream of the crop. You are who my children will look to with admiration in their eyes. You have a job to do. Grab a hold of what you have been trained for defending the US Constitution and fight. You may not be fighting with M-16s. It may be a battle of words. It may be a simple vote. Just please please please remember remember me. Remember what and who you stand for. Never give up. For I will never stop needing you. YOU ARE MY HEROES!

  285. I am a military wife. My husband serves in the United States Marine Corps. Im not a part of his brotherhood. I didnt fight in his war(s). Im not in his trenches. Im not taking out the enemy. But, then again, I am. Every day is a battle. Whether it is storming the gates of Congress, or encouraging my once-again deployed husband despite the fact that Im alone (again) and the roof is leaking (again). I know I stand on the sidelines; I know I am just a military wife; but MEN.THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER! Stand up and fight. Stand up and defend what you promised to uphold all of those years ago. Our United States Constitution the people are who you fight for. The battle may be changing, but it is not over. WE (THE PEOPLE) STILL NEED YOU. Our administration may belittle your efforts. Some may scorn your history. But I, my children, and many others, will never stop needing you to stand up and fight. Your fight may look, sound, smell and taste different; but in the end it is still the same. YOU ARE OUR WARRIORS. You are the cream of the crop. You are who my children will look to with admiration in their eyes. You have a job to do. Grab a hold of what you have been trained for defending the US Constitution and fight. You may not be fighting with M-16s. It may be a battle of words. It may be a simple vote. Just please please please remember remember me. Remember what and who you stand for. Never give up. For I will never stop needing you. YOU ARE MY HEROES!

    1. This War Machine may be a little older and not the newest model, but I have experience out the ass. I have and will never stop defending the citizens of the United States, whether they deserve it or not.

  286. To all the genuine HEROES here, all I can offer is my indebted gratitude, and a true heart felt THANK YOU!A Military Mom.

  287. We’re looking at a new generation of disillusioned veterans. America let down our Vietnam veterans; we’re doing the same thing to this generation as well, albeit in a different manner.I vacillate between feelings of disgust and nausea. America is not worthy of it’s veterans.

  288. It’s true, all of it. And while we will always feel the connection with each other this breaks my heart. Some of the best times of my life were deployed. and now I sit in college classes with the lesser. Breaks my heart.

  289. "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."George Santayana Great read! Much respect. My dad is a Vietnam Vet. ……

  290. It won’t be long before a new war is upon us…unfortunately it will be on our home front… The American way of life will be at stake

  291. When I promised to defend the Constitution and this country, I didn’t say an expiration date in my pledge. I am a war machine, parked, collecting dust. Years go by and I feel like my purpose in life is lost. I use to chant, SHOCK TROOP, DEVIL DOG, BLOOD SUCKING WAR MACHINE! READY TO FIGHT, READY TO KILL, READY TO DIE, BUT NEVER WILL! The fight, my fight, is over. My buddies have died with their shields on their backs and I am damaged goods. With all of my physical and mental injuries, no military branch would take me back. All of my training is now for not. I sit in civilian life like an alien from another planet. I don’t fit in and don’t want to be here. I don’t know what to do and no one understands my torment. Semper FidelisCpl. Townsend J.C. 1833 04-0824th MEU 06Fallujah, Iraq 07-08

  292. thank everyone for your protection and commitment for us americans i can’t even begin to understand to walk in yalls shoes.i have never been in the military because they wouldn’t accept me during the vietnam war but i wanted to join the marines.i have never in all my life seen such turmoil and hate of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA until these last two wars but i’m afraid at 60 years of age i will be fighting the radicals on our god given soil and every state will have to take up arms are die.i am here telling everybody even you vets that it is coming and maybe real soon.this evil administration aka govt. has actually declared war on our country and the real american citizens.the elite bankers and feds would like nothing better than for us to be controlled.i am an american born and bred and cornbread and biscuits fed.and now i call on all american vets to prepare for war you still have a purpose god has only given you rest for the time being.the true americans will stand with you me included but we need your guideance and your leadership to teach us to fight to win.i hope you all will past this on thanks southern bred.

  293. If you’re asking, "What now?" then I hate to be the one to say it, but you are a dupe. It was never about some noble goal. No US war ever was. It was about money. It was about drugs. It was about the oligarchy and shady businessmen lining their pockets with the mountains of money that can be raked in by spilling the blood of the innocent, the young, the dupes. It’s always been about the money. And the hard men, the ones who believe in honor and service and enjoying "the suck", they are the ones in the ground, or in the dustbin of history, because the only nobility that ever existed was in them.

    1. I think maybe you should go back and read some history books. Not the history books in schools, but actual accounts and other similar works. Maybe Vietnam wasn’t a noble cause, maybe GWOT wasn’t a noble cause, but I can assure you that not all US wars were about money, drugs, or whatever other bullshit you want to spew. I served, I fought, I was not a dupe. I knew what I was doing and I knew what I was fighting for. Fuck you for saying otherwise. Maybe you were duped and thats why you’re bitter.

  294. Fuck buddy holly. Those are the words of a man who hasn’t served in the military.To quote "The mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart: For those that believe, no explanation is needed. For those that don’t, no explanation will do.

    1. No, fuck you. Six year USAF combat veteran here, served in Afghanistan 2010-2011. 50% VA disability rating. I know exactly what I’m talking about, and I didn’t need a silly quote to do it. If you hate hearing the truth from someone who has earned the right to speak it, I suggest you take some time to reflect on what kind of person you are.

  295. Exactly why I have the vets in my college classes I teach talk to the children they find themselves surrounded by. No one is more eloquent, more capable of cutting through the bullshit, hype, hyperbole, and voodoo spin than vets. Hang in there, Grifter. Your Brothers and Sisters are out here, and we understand.

  296. You have two families, the one you share the same blood with & the one you go to war with. Nothing ruins a person’s internal happiness more than losing family or being separated from family.Except dwelling on things you can’t change. It will consume you, hold you back and make you miss all the wonderful opportunities life has to offer. Everyone is talking like there is a problem with "this generation" or "that generation" but you dumbasses don’t realize our parents & their parents had said the same damn thing. YOU HAVEN’T UNCOVERED ANYTHING NEW, STOP ACTING LIKE YOU DID. The times change, get over it. You all talk like you can only ever do 1 thing in your life. Well, that’s BS. Stop feeling sorry for the life you can’t have anymore and start focusing on creating the life you want. "Boo hooo I can’t kill random people anymore, my life is worthless, its all I knew how to do"Yeah… you all identify your issues & nobody fixes them. Let me help: "I all knew was…" If you only know 1 thing, then learn something else and you’ll know 2 things… then learn another and before that you might have developed a skill-set you can actually use & enjoy that doesn’t require war. Sure it’ll be a little bit of hard work but it sounds like you all have already gone through some hard shit so in comparison real life should be a cake walk for you. It’s YOU who is making YOUR life hard. Not other people, not different generations. Stop the excuses & better your life, it sounds like you need it.

  297. I served in the military. I served with the 82nd ABN Division. I did not go to war. I served during peacetime. I did not witness or experience war. However, I had many brothers and sisters who did. I have seen them go to Iraq and come home different, changed. They cherish life even more. They understand what it means to live and what our freedom means to us all. I have had two step-sons serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have joined a brotherhood of those who served. In my family, we respect and honor our soldiers and veterans. We know what’s it’s like to experience separation of loved ones off to war. The anxiety, the constant worry of what ifs, and hope nots, and the elation of Thank God, when they came home. All men and women who put their lives in harms way have my respect and heartfelt thank you for your service and sacrifice. I have your back and will support you in any way possible. I teach at a high school and do not teach history with a defeatist attitude and the I’m sorry attitude about why we went to war, but I teach about the heroism of our soldiers and the sacrifices they made to keep us free and comfy in our own world. Thank you for your service and welcome home.

  298. Grifter, your reflections are heartfelt and painfully true. They are also nothing new. "Tommy" – a poem by Rudyard Kipling, says it all. "it’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, ‘an Tommy ‘ow’s your soul? But it’s "Thin red line of heros" when the drums begin to roll." Combat is easy. We are in it together. That is a gift the memory which is worth holding on to into the twilight of your life. It makes us richer than any civilian can ever imagine. Civilain life is hard. You are on your own. The "twitter age" is all about self, never about comradeship. So be it. I am a combat veteran. The best advice I ever got on the subject of accepting the memory of what was and the challenge of facing what is came from my son, an emergency room doctor. It was "Dad, get a life." I think each one of us that came back owes it to our brothers who did not to do just that. That is what they paid for and we shortchange them if we do not. Signing off – Fitzroy 6.

  299. I understand every word at the core of my being. I retired after 21 years of Combat Arms, two wars,and three deployments to Iraq. Now to my horror the war is coming home, and we have all been marked as Terrorists not Warriors, BY OUR OWN COUNTRY !!! The change Barrack Obama promised is coming, look around you brothers. Open your eyes and see what others are afraid to. We are all still Warriors, and even the most injured and disabled are feared by the enemies of The United States of America. Why? Because we will always stand up and fight with our brothers to defend Freedom and our Country, it is what we do, it is our mission in life and the only job that is worthy of us.

  300. This speaks volumes of ANYONE who works in a service oriented issue. The thing that I Bwant these young people (including/especially my Staff. Sgt. son)—to realize is, the essence of human nature. The essence of human nature is to be greedy, proud, arrogant, bitter, spiteful, self-involved,etc. AS LONG A HUMAN NATURE REMAINS THE SAME, and it will, THE SPECIAL PEOPLE THAT SERVE AND GIVE THEIR HEARTS TO TAKE CARE OF SITUATIONS AND PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN——because of the OTHER ones who care!!!! We "will not be broken"–Bonnie Raitt. love and prayers from the mom of a special one.

  301. GrifterAgain a well-done article. But not something all of us involved in the GWOT haven’t had to postulate on at one point in time or another. We all have to deal with our demons sooner or later, especially if our time does not end on the field of battle. And all warriors have to come to grips with the fact that someday, be it shortly after returning or far off in old age, they all will have to set down their arms eventually. Typically, in the past, it was safely in the knowledge that those following him were competent (and willing enough) to continue on with the fight. But sadly, with our political system, schools, and society not even in the same realm of experience or understanding, I just don’t see it. It leaves you empty inside thinking that somehow everything we scarified for, the brothers we buried and the widows our wives wept with, were wasted. Those experiences are among some of the most precious I have. But sometimes I look in the mirror and think that for all we have seen and done, I have lived long enough to witness what was the greatest and most powerful nation on earth fitter away into nothing. And like you I’m constantly wondering amid the closure of "our wars" what comes next? Do we fade away or do what we can to change our society and nation?

  302. YOU didn’t "waste" yourself, nor did your comrades-in-arms. If anyone ELSE wasted your efforts, you can doubtless TELL, but that was THEIR fault, or faultiness, not YOURS. My advice? You and your surviving comrades are STILL needed, and WILL BE needed, in a serious way, in the bitter days, ahead, because the same kind of mismanagement which was the cause of ANY of the "waste" of you and your comrades’ efforts, is ongoing, like a wretched disease process, and the end state of that ongoing, outrageous mismanagement is bound to result in the need for seasoned, clear-eyed, clear-thinking, hard-bitten MEN who can take care of business, without failing, flailing, or flinching. There IS no "waste" in having become such a man, period. For now, and from now on? PRAY to be shown, or to be brought-into slots and roles wherein your efforts, your expertise, and your seasoning, under the harsh lessons of having repeatedly been put in harm’s way can become an opportunity for your skills, your instincts, your mindsets, and your wisdom in crisis situations, to be best used, in the service of people who, whether they realized it, over the years, or not, have been depending upon you, and the other personnel LIKE you. God bless you, and keep you, in the days ahead.

    1. Thank you for stating that so eloquently. Your life has not been wasted. Seek comfort in God and your loved ones even though they cannot begin to comprehend what you have been and sre still experiencing.

  303. Great read ! But it’s not over . ISIL is rolling through Iraq , Ebola is creeping around every were . We have open Borders with worn out very tired Border Patrol agents . ( perfect place for an invasion ) Diseased kids , that are not really that young ( gang members ) infiltrating our homeland . Europe is being stomped on by Putin , while he’s thumbing his middle finger at the head of the ‘empty suits’ in DC . No Sir it’s not over . It’s just beginning . And it’s going to be bad . We have No leadership anywhere , the gutting of the military of combat NCO’s . And the lack of Patriotism from the next generation . It’s going to be you and your generation . Me and my centuries old generation . And all the centuries in between . We all see the Tide of evil coming . And mind you it’s coming , and it’s very EIVIL ! Stay vigilant . Clean yourself and your rifle ! Count your silver and your bullets . Day of reckoning is coming , and God IS PISSED !

  304. Grifter,To answer your question "what now", for those of us who are civilian pukes that love our country and respect your efforts to protect us here and the sacrifice all of you made, my answer is TRAIN US TO FIGHT what is coming next on our home soil. This regime is just a s evil as those you were fighting in the sandbox.There’s a lot of patriots who would love to have the privilege to learn from veterans like yourself. So your job on this earth is not done yet by a long shot.

  305. "If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."Samuel Adams"Bundy Ranch" was just the begining, The Border needs to be controlled and not by the "O"s regulations either. The BP is overwhelmed and ICE has joined the other "alphabets" in the Progressive Tyranny. We need combat veterans to form and train local Militias all across the country. That’s why the Progs are drugging and calling you domestic terrorists along with TP, or any other group standing for what little is left of the Constitution.

  306. "Another movie reference is the grocery store scene in The Hurt Locker (regardless of the movie, that scene was powerful). "Glad to hear someone else felt the exact same way about that as I did.

  307. I fear the moonlightAnd dread the shadowsI live in turmoil amongst the calm of the superficial But long for the horrible sympathetic past The spirit of my fallen comradesIs fading in my memoryWas it a dream Or a time in my lifeJack LawsonMember Special Forces Association Chapter 51Author of Slavers Wheel, A Failure of Civility and A Question of time http://www.AFailureOfCivility.com We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand watch as our guardians in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. A soldier must seize every advantage to defeat his opponent. He must strike swiftly and strike hard-he who dares-wins. But under all circumstances those guardians must stand ready to protect the innocent and those too weak to defend themselves<br />Often spoken quote of my friend Martin, KIA - Africa 1979

  308. well said and so true for so many that have served just as you have, I am an old guy served in 72 and 73 Army, we let our people, brothers and allies down, pulled out and they paided the price for trusting the american gov. same type of folks then as now, all I can say is stay stong, stay ready as now more then ever all of us that have seen the truth and disapointment of giving and then having the asshats change the rules, know things are not going to get better, shit has gone down hill now for 40 years and the piper will be paid. You and your brothers did not waste yourself anymore then we did, hang tuff, stand proud and be ready we will all be needed again,

  309. GenEarly’s comment is spot on."We need combat veterans to form and train local Militias all across the country. That’s why the Progs are drugging and calling you domestic terrorists along with TP, or any other group standing for what little is left of the Constitution."

  310. On May 23, 2013, POTUS Obama declared the GWOT over.We need to realize that the GWOT was just another name for the 8th Crusade.While there are many similarities to the way the Viet Nam war "ended," our legacy is to come back and fight again. And likely again after that. The Americans who walked patrols in Ramadi, Fallujah, Paktia and Paktika may not be on those streets again, but they will be those who determine what America does to push back the enemy again.Where the communist expansion into South Viet Nam was complete with their control and political domination of one nation, the war we fight against Jihadist Islam will not be satisfied with just one corner of the globe. They fight, as bin Laden said, to recover back all the way to "far al-Andalusia." The leaders of ISIS have said they will raise the black flag of Allah in the White House. They are a millennia-old foe. So, what now? Be ready to fight again. Call out the appeasers and cowards who talk a big game but hide behind "strongly worded letters" as the height of bravery. Laugh at interventionists who want "something done" in all things but have no clue about Ojective or End State. Be ready to train your sons and daughters to fight the 9th Crusade. Be ready to defend America against those who offer only three options: convert, submit, or die.The Global War on Terror is only "over" in the minds of politicians who have no concept of what "Terror" really is and why it hates. This is only the barest of pauses. It is hesitates only because our strategy will not realize the required end state. This war is against an enemy who will only be stopped when we essentially give them their own options back to them.

  311. you know what now guys, we went to both countries for reasons we’ll never truly know, but I see a nation in need of resuscitation, a nation in need of liberation, and a nation in need of rediscovering it’s roots. We’ve all been gone too long and now we ask ourselves wtf is happening in this land that sent me somewhere besides my home telling me the war/ problem was there. I got there and turned around, realizing, I’m needed more at home, to fight a more dangerous enemy. To sound entirely cliche and cornier than Uncle Travis’ Thanksgiving shit; Leonidas said something like "get ready mofo’s because unless I’m not a tactical God (and I am) they’re gunna probe our perimeter all night, they’re gunna probe it all night long…. There’s an issue for us to deal with here at home now. It will continue to develop until we take a "walk" North toward the hot gates (dc) with 299 of our closest friends.

  312. I tell a story about watching a basketball game at Ft Bragg, and talking to another soldier about what would we do now that the War was over, my first war – Nam. My conclusion was that I would stay and make sure someone that knew how to would be there to train and lead and tell the officers the truth (which many might not want to hear). His answer was the he heard ‘the Company’ was hiring for South America. There isn’t any quit in our lives since, but we do get real old. Two or three generations and still the same questions, do look hard for your answer, you matter. Go with God.

  313. While you may have to find something else to do for awhile, don’t ever lose your ability to fight; and whatever you do, please do not forget the oath you took to protect the United States and The Constitution. You may very well find that you and your particular talents and abilities may become a very needed commodity in the not-too-distant future – to protect this once-great nation, and not to fight in Charlie Foxtrot foreign wars that only seem to enrich the undertakers, those supplying the war materiel, and those doing the "lending". (Remember, ISIS wants to raise the flag of their "caliphate" over the White House, not to mention others who want to destroy this country that many in my family have also fought to keep free.)

  314. From an old Vietnam vet… welcome to the club.Much of what you say, reminds me of those days, in almost the same words, except one… clusterfuck. Now, I got another word for you brothers… Mexicans.We’re being invaded, the other day I lost it in the grocery store… when this Mexican bitch and her daughter, who couldn’t speaka d’ english, bought better food than I could, with a damn EBT card… my tax dollars paying for this shit… my sacrifice being wasted on this communist crap come home to roost.Robert Heinlein said it right, when he wrote Starship Troopers… the Vets, took over, and I mean, took… over…Its about time, we vets started understanding, there wouldn’t be a USA without US, and without US, there may not be a USA left for my grand kids, and that sucks the big one.Maybe, that’s why Uncle Sugar is so freakin’ scared of vets… maybe he should be.And no, a Republican admin and congress will not fix anything, you will see, and then you will see its too late for anything but watering the Tree.There is profit in illegals;Democrats get voters.Republicans get cheap labor and wage deflation.Catholics get tithes.And, we’re fucked, if we don’t get a clue.

      1. Dutch you truly are a fuckin useless POS MORON. Time for you to crawl back into your parents basement and play with yourself.

  315. Well said my brother. I will turn 50 in the sandbox in a few weeks with over 30 years in. Never felt more alive that while being shot at.TGT

  316. Spot on. I was never in the military but fate and my career were with the military. First at the Pentagon, an asylum run by clueless lunatics, then with an AF SMU. When they opened the Pandoras box, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I belonged. I was with men with real world missions. I was never more proud in my whole life. I still am. I begged to go with them into harms way, it’s where I belonged, not for a cause, or mission, or policy, or GWOT, or any other GD reason, but to be with the only men I ever respected….and loved as my brothers (even when the feeling sometimes may not have been mutual). I would probably still be there today but the Lord has other plans for me.The battle is here. Now. In our own country. We have lost more freedoms here than we have saved for others in third-world s**t-holes. When the S has HTF I will stand with the other warriors emerging from the shadows to save our country. I’m here. Send me. the biggest and most important battle we will ever fight is here. The question is when. Let’s win, and make the other traitorous SOBs die for their selfish, greedy, misguided cause paid for with the blood of many brothers.photom

  317. Us moms love our soldiers fiercely, and prayed for their safety every minute they are not home. We understand the sacrifice the need to serve. But we do have a little problem sending our kids to fight for a senseless war. It does matter to us and we do love all of you.

  318. It’s a mind fuck to read something like this and to know I have brothers out there who feel the same way as I do. But when I look all around me I’m the only mother fucker here.

  319. It would’ve happened sooner or later. All wars end, and history moves on, as life does. Am I hurt by what’s going on due to the lawmakers in DC? Yeah, especially with the extermination of the Christian populace in northern Iraq and a lackadasical Executive care-factor. But at the same time, even if that didn’t happen, and all went happily ever after – what then? I realized that daily American life is actually an un-fulfilling waste of time after a bit. so what was real? What is actually worthwhile? If we took rowdy risks to keep available a bizillion choices of cereal at Kroger, it’s time to re-think priorities.Well, here’s how I made life work: For my questions, I turned for answers to philosophy and religion to seek Truth, and discern what is real and good. I ditched most of my uniforms and souvenirs a few years ago, don’t pay attention to the news, and got involved with the Knights of Columbus, and grew new friendships (though I still keep in touch with the guys). And I’m going to school to teach history while I work construction. Best of all, I got married to a wonderful woman 6 years after leaving the Marines; I’m good to her, she’s good to me, and we’re out to start a lively family, in our late 20s. I am looking forward not to an old age of VFW poppy sales and such, but of having the grand-kids over for holidays and more. Life is beautiful. The war was one point in life, and though it forever leaves different marks on us all, it is not the only thing that becomes us.

  320. I don’t know what to say, but you hit right in the bulls eye. Sitting and feeling empty in a cubicle is exactly what I fell. What now? …. emptiness.

  321. NAM 68 -70 TO MY BROTHER WHO WROTE THIS MY MIND AND HEART HAS BEEN READ. AFTER 44 YEARS THE FEELINGS ARE STILL HERE. THE PULL OUT OF NAM IS JUST LIKE WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. THOSE WHO SEE THE GREATER PURPOSE OF FREEDOM AND LIBERTY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE GIVEN THE MOST AND ARE THE POINT OF THE SPEAR.

  322. You learn to be bored. You learn to be content. You learn to be happy. Your new mission is to be a reminder to those of us who have not risked everything for the noble effort of serving our nation, what true resilience is. It is still the hardest of missions, to be a reminder of just how petty most everyday concerns are. But the only way to win that battle is by showing it can be done. And if you succeed, you get a truly great reward…LIFE.Thank you for risking your life, thank you for surviving your brothers so their bravery and risk is not forgotten.

  323. What now? How about enjoying that freedom that we’re supposedly defending? Care must be taken to avoid starting more wars solely for the sake of keeping soldiers deployed.

  324. It will always be about us…he who put his life on the line for his buddies, his country. ..about the one’s who came before and after…I started in 1976 and finished in 2006 with almost a 7 year break in between. ..9 Marines. .14 Ga Guard…COLD WAR..or GWOT. ..it’s all the same. You train you teach…you get the next-generation ready….Tactics of the Cresent Moon is a book I read over 8 year’s ago. …we can’t be weak in heart mind or will….it’s not going away…it will never go away for me….it’s about family now…getting them ready for what’s a head. …and as far as DC go’s in till we put the right people in power we get what we get….being a person of a certain color doesn’t matter just do the job !!!! Because these cats don’t care who are….your just in the way of their plan’s. ..You see what they will do and have done to their own….Semper Fi brothers and sisters because it will take us all….

  325. I care. God bless you all and I will always remember that your jobs were filled my men and women of pride, courage, passion, commitment, and HONOR for your Country and your brothers at arms.

  326. What now?Don’t miss the point in your life when you decide to let your past become your past. Be happy with it, miss it from time to time, but turn your attention to new worthwhile things in your presence. Nobody but you can make that decision. Nobody but you can lead your life. Uncle Sam and the whole society don’t owe you that.Don’t miss the point in your life when you look back at your brothers who are no longer with us, and say your thank-you for having had them in your life and having witnessed their greatness and ultimate sacrifice. Miss them, shed a tear from time to time, but be thankful for them.Only we know who much is "wasted" or not. Others can’t make that judgment for us.

  327. Young man i dont know you. but after reading your words i now no how you think of what the hell was i doing there. you young man are a hero in your own right.as all your mates were. i am of scotish decent and done a bit in my life. but i have watched you guys being shat on from a great height. by people who stand a tell lie after lie. and then drop you just like that. i respect you your mates dead and gone over. and i would like to say thank you for what you done for your country,god bless and watch over you. james mcindoe well done to you all.

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