The long road home…

So this is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, and while I’m sure I’m going to upset a few people with this, I am excited to hear what some of you have to say about it.

I retired in June of 2016 and went to work as a white water rafting guide the next day. I had my own business to fall back on as well but as we all know, the struggle is most definitely real. I started going to school in the fall of 2016 at a local community college and that is where I first saw the image that most veterans are encouraging. What I’m talking about is the guy that everyone has seen on campus sporting his day pack he kept from supply with his t-shirt covered in veteran this and veteran that.

Point I’m making is this, the more we alienate ourselves from the rest of the world, the harder it is going to be to move forward. I love the fact that my military service, including the things I did, saw and was subjected to, made me the man I am today, and while I will forever hold onto those things with pride and honor, those things don’t make up who I am as a person. What is going to define me to the 99% of the population, which is the bank tellers, my kids’ school teacher, the lady at the front desk of the gym, is how I conduct myself in spite of those hardships.

What’s worse is that everyone automatically assumes that what we are experiencing is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and for some of us, that might be exactly what it is. There is a large body of us, however, that fails to recognize that what they’re actually experiencing is nothing more than growing pains. Separation anxiety from the tribe that we, at one point, fit into so perfectly. In the last year and a half that I’ve been out of the Marine Corps I have had several moments where I felt alone in a crowded room. I remember sitting in a raft on the river, guiding a group of thrill seekers through a calm stretch of water and reflecting on who I was and who I am becoming. It could be very easy for me to fall victim to the stereotypes thrown at all of us for the simple fact that I really just missed my friends.

I could write on this for hours but I don’t want to bore anyone. What I will do is throw down a challenge, one of many that I want to do with this blog. There are so many options for us that are available that we don’t utilize. So here is the challenge. When you feel yourself fall into this trap, don’t take to the internet and make a cryptic post like “How do I make it stop?” or “When will the nightmares end?” or something like that. Instead, pick up your phone and video call a friend. Don’t send them a text and don’t call them. Video chat with one or more of them. Make sure that you can see their face and they can see yours. I’ll say that again for emphasis, make sure that you can see their face and they can see yours. If these guys and gals really know you, they’re gonna see that you’re dealing with something.

Chip Retirement

After I was out for about 9 months I did this with a friend of mine. This guy had seen combat in Panama, Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. This dude is the real deal and I have known him through some of the darkest moments of my life and for me to tell you that he lit up completely when he got to see me and I got to give him a quick video tour around my home, I would be completely understating it and it had the same effect on me.

You are all stronger because of what you went through. You are different from the rest of the world, and we’ll talk more on that later but for now, let’s take some baby steps and make that call.

If you enjoyed reading this, send me a comment. If you make a call to a few of your battle buddies and it had a profound effect on you, leave a comment. If you think I’m off base, leave a comment. Let’s have an open discussion about it and get it out there. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that what is easy for some is hard for others and vice versa so your comments will hopefully illicit some thoughts and actions from your brothers and sisters and don’t forget to check out my other website http://www.dollarmountainwoodworks.com to see how you can get a custom piece of art to show your pride in this great nation of ours.

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9 thoughts on “The long road home…

  1. Great read! I agree, it is important that the military doesnt define who I am anymore. Like you it has played a major role in forming me but now that Im not in anymore I wanted to lead with something else. I prefer to be a rafter first! I am a Vet, always will be, but I like people to know the new me, not SSG Paul, first!

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  2. You are a true motivator, always have been and always will be. This truly works, I have done it myself. But reading it and hearing it this way really makes you think about it. It is always better to see someone’s face. You really get to see what they are thinking because you know that person so well.
    Thanks for the blog brother. Keep it up.Semper Fi.

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  3. Great write up!
    Thank you for keeping the article short enough to where I don’t lose focus and I am more inclined to visit when I know I am not committing to reading a novel. There is some magic about being in uniform; the one is the whole and the whole is in one. Much like the Wolfpack motto 🙂 When you return to the civilian ranks you are tempted to re-conform but you inevitably find yourself not wanting to, having grown accustomed to operating at a higher level and with much more efficiency and efficacy. I think there is a real struggle there for many veterans and celebrating that uniqueness is necessary. Seeking out other like-minded individuals and making ourselves open to vulnerability is what forged our strength from the get-go so it proves that after the military we continue in our previous successes.

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  4. I hid my service from others. I still do. People figure it eventually. Most don’t say or ask anything after. I totally understand your CC description. There’s plenty of them. Every once in a while I will wear my platoon sweatshirt in public; mostly because of dirty laundry. I think I didn’t display myself like others for a couple of reasons. One, nobody gets it. I think a group of actual combat veterans accept this, so I won’t elaborate. Two, they don’t deserve to know. I don’t see a good reason for them to know what I’ve experienced. I find it controversial to have some pussy tell me how he “thinks” firefights and warfighting occur. Last, I was trying to push it all behind me and recreate myself. I think I’ve done a good job of re-defining myself, but when people try to get to know me I leave out the USMC unless they ask. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of it. Honestly, I think I do it for the sole purpose of not having to answer stupid questions. I think I’m still pushing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brian Hogan
    It’s highs and lows. You nailed it on the head when you said it’s mainly you miss your friends. Every time there’s been a low for me. It been missing my friends that I know have my back.

    In my expierence. I was pretty low key. I found and hung with other veterans as topics came up. It was nice to talk and be active with them.
    I got a good job. Traveled for a bit and found myself getting the itch to do something. So I joined the reserves and learned to love the balance of it. I got to travel and deploy with them, make great friends and contacts. It was very enjoyable to me. For me.
    Great write up donnie

    Liked by 1 person

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