I’m not a pundit. I’m not an economist. I’m not a historian. I’m just a guy. A guy who happens to be a veteran. A guy who happens to have served a couple of combat tours in the army. Social media is full of a variety of people, qualified and not, commenting for and against the current issue of the day. News analysis abounds in the blogosphere. That’s a good thing.
But I don’t want to be that guy. I want to talk about the real, day-to-day, human costs of war. I fully appreciate all those people who take the time to share their insight and analyses of current events. In fact, I appreciate them to the extent that I feel like there are so many more people providing such analyses, that my own voice couldn’t possibly add any value to the conversation.
What can I lend? Creativity. Personal experience. A human voice. I’m not suggesting that others aren’t doing this, but I feel rather strongly that the discussion of war gets so rapped up in the minutae of current events, that basic principles get crowded out of the discussion.
Let’s talk about me for a minute. Of the seven and a half years I spent employed by Uncle Sam, I was home for three. That’s four and a half years that I didn’t get to participate in my children’s upbringing. That’s four and a half years that my wife felt like she had been abandoned. That’s four and a half years of resentment. Let’s add to that what it was like for my family when I was at home.
When I came home, however much I might have missed my wife and kids, I knew it would only be temporary. In an effort to curb the pain of separation I knew would come, I stayed distant. I’d while away the hours drinking on the back porch, instead of participating in the life of my family.
Today, I still live near Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the United States. It’s almost impossible to meet someone who isn’t a veteran, or active duty, or an army brat. On a daily basis, I talk to other vets at school, and inevitably, the discussion always ends up around how army life messed up family life.
We talk about drugs, alcoholism, abuse, and adultery. We talk about the latest eighteen years old who killed himself because while he was deployed, the girl he married to get more cash benefits cheated on him.
These are some of the unaccounted for costs of war. Mothers and wives, fathers and husbands, please look beyond the nationalist fervor before sending those you love off to fight a war that some talking head on the TV told you was in the national interest.