Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

We got a long weekend because well, as my Dad said it would be pretty messed up if we worked Veterans Day. Veterans Day is certainly a good one but I will take any excuse for a 4 day. Wifey and I did some various errands this morning and pretty much just hung out for the rest of the day. Didn't do anything big or special. No parades or celebrations or anything like that. I just didn't really feel like doing much of anything special. Wifey asked what I wanted for dinner (tacos) and suprised me with some Heineken which was cool.

Maybe I should say something cliche about sacrifice and honor and all that but I just really don't want to. I am a veteran in the most literal sense of having personally been in combat and just don't really feel the need.

I can say that everybody is mentally affected in some way by combat. How the mental stuff  comes together from your past experiences and personality and whatever experiences you may have in war is truly intangible. I am not going to use value based words like weak or strong but for whatever reason the way people react to the same stimulus and experiences is not at all consistent. It absolutely is not A+B=C. What will profoundly affect one person might not do anything to another.

One interesting thing about OIF and OEF is that our soldier survivability has improved dramatically. Body Armor, new advanced medical training implimented down to the soldier level (in particular needle chest decompression) and better/ quicker access to higher levels of medical care are responsable for this. However an unfortunate second order effect of this (particularly quality body armor) is that while fewer soldiers are dying we are seeing a lot more amputee's. Basically with an IBA or OTV and a helmet on unless the face/ neck gets injured or one is completely vaporised there is a pretty  high probability of survival. If you have ever spent any time near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or Walter Reed you have almost surely have seen the real scars of war up close.

I think about these seriously wounded soldiers (and marines, airmen, etc all) a lot. I don't think you can see a young man missing multiple limbs and covered in 3rd degree burns and not consider it. I think about what their lives are going to be like. Hopefully they can find some kind of a meaningful career and a good relationship and build a life for themself. Unfortunately I believe the statistics aren't optomistic.

Despite my intentions otherwise this got all heavy and depressing, sorry folks. To be honest I just find veterans day really depressing. It is a testimant to my personal functionality that I do not spend it alone in a dark closet with a half gallon of whiskey.

7 comments:

Mayberry said...

Thank you Ryan. And please relay my thanks to the folks you work with as well, from an old squid...

Anonymous said...

Willie "Irish" Driscoll was Duke Cunningham's back-seater when they shot down 5 MIG's over North Viet Nam and became the only Navy ace of the war. The last one in particular was a very near thing that could easily have been them instead, very harrowing. Years later, Driscoll was interviewing a WWI ace, and asked him if he ever had nightmares. Oh yeah, the old guy said. When was the last one, Driscoll asked. Last night, the old guy said. Point is.....some things stay with you. But what you do with them is up to you. Personally, it takes years, but some of it will remain regardless. Stay strong. And thank you for your service, and welcome home.

H

John said...

Yeah, Veterans Day can be depressing but it doesn't have to be. A friend of mine emailed me a shot he took today at The Wall, told me thanks, I told him it was a priviledge, too many names, some we know. 40 years ago I was a combat medic in the jungle and he was the man part of a tracker team. He's still a dog guy and we're both still on the lookout for ways to help.
Carry on.

Stephen King said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

As powerful, yet subtle a post as you've written. Thank you.

Brad K. said...

Ryan,

Veterans day is an important remembrance of what it means to defend the United States and freedom, as expressed by the experiences and changes of those that survive their service.

Veterans bring back with them the scars of trauma, and the experience of their service. All continue to serve their family and community, and their nation. Some in protest or support of various issues, some in growing and nurturing their precious families and communities. Others provide visible reminders of why we serve overseas, to reduce the risk that armed aggression plays out here at home.

Few veterans receive all the support they need; many manage a "transition" from service life to civilian life and make a place for themselves. Others need more direct intervention, especially those with ongoing medical and rehabilitation needs.

The nation and communities, and families, are enriched by each veteran's service, in social mobility, in the culturally leveling effect of serving beside those with different beliefs - and learning to respect and trust strangers that had never lived near your community or home. Veterans have always provided a seed of social stability that reaches far beyond any individual member's contribution.

An astonishing amount of the strength of America can be traced to those that have served in her uniformed services.

Serving is an honorable life choice. Service contributes to national security, and prepares veterans to enrich their communities, families, and descendants.

Urban Preparation said...

Thank you for your service. I am a veteran also, though I served just after the first Gulf war, and never saw combat. I regret that you had to experience some of the things that you did.

I recall reading article that detailed exactly what you describe - the law of unintended consequences, if you will. Injuries which would have been mortal in previous battles, were now survivable due to recent advancements in medicine.

I am not sure how to describe my feelings when I see a young, military amputee (or multiple amputee) these days. Sadness for their pain and loss is certainly one of the emotions, admiration and respect are others.

Most importantly, we can express our gratitude to the individual in person. Sure as hell beats doing it at a granite wall.

Best,

Mark

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