So, Iíve been away for a while. I figured it was time for me to look back at the huge events in the last few years and maybe process them a little more than I have.
Iíve only had one landmark before this one. And to make this as short and sweet as possible I will try not to repeat myself. There were some amazing things that prompted that landmark, and there is no way I can duplicate the rush of the events. If you want to read it you can find it here. But donít worry, I donít expect everyone to read it.
So, my entire adult life has been consumed by the military in one form or another. I joined the Air Force in March of 2001 and Iím now finishing up my last obligation to the Army. I am literally awaiting the piece of paper that will liberate me from the military; forever. As you notice, I am leaving the military in different branch than when I came in. Itís been a bumpy road. It got especially bumpy in the last few months. But, before I tell you about recent history, I need to take you back a bit further.
I left the Air Force in May of 2005. It was part of a deal that took the rest of my time on Active Duty and put it towards time in the Air National Guard of Idaho. It was honestly the best decision I could make at the time. Then a terrible, horrible thing happened to myself as well as the entire country: Hurricane Katrina. And because Iím the kind of guy that canít sit by idly while there is something I can do to help another person, I volunteered to be mobilized with my state.
Over all, it was a good mobilization. I would easily do it again. I got the chance to help a lot of people who had lost absolutely everything short of their lives. But there was a catch. I did something I never imagined I would ever be forced to do. Something so terrible and so destructive. It was so hard hitting and influential that I was told to keep it secret from everyone. According to the military I did nothing wrong. And yet I fought with myself about it for over a year before I cracked. You see, one night in the middle of a routine patrol, I killed a man.
Even now itís hard to cope with. Iíve given up on the secrecy that ate away at me. Iíve given up on the people that forced me into this. Shortly after my trip to Louisiana, I decided to serve the rest of my time in the Army. I needed something to get my mind off what I did and allow me to concentrate on more than the past. The Army promised to be and has been great to me and my family. Iíve called for artillery strikes, air strikes, Iíve controlled Apacheís on the battlefield, Iíve jumped out of helicopters in more ways than I once thought possible. The Army proved to be what I thought I needed. Until we got our orders to Iraq and were sent to the National Training Center in California.
We were cruising in our Bradley Fighting Vehicle when over the radio we were notified that our vehicle was simulated dead and on fire. Being the only person in the back at the time, I kicked the rear-door out and squeezed my way to the chaos around the vehicle. My first responsibility was the Platoon Leader. My main job in situations like this is to keep the Platoon Leader safe. He easily popped out of the turret followed by the Gunner. Our Driver labored his way out the driverís hatch. Immediately the Gunner, the Driver and I formed an immediate secure-zone on the right side of our vehicle after which we started receiving fire from the opposite side.
This is standard procedure for a situation like this. The Bradley gave us cover for one-hundred-eighty degrees so the gunfire could not reach us. But, something about that scenario flipped a switch in my head. The following day, after not sleeping, I went to the medics and was sent to the rear with shell-shock. Soon after we got back here to Georgia I was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for a month and a half while a case to discharge me was made. My stay was entirely in the psychiatric ward. I didnít realize the huge burden I was holding onto for so long. I didnít realize that the thoughts I was having about life and death were abnormal. In fact I hardly realized when I started to contemplate my own death by my own hands. I had forgotten who I was, and what I was. I had seen past every person that cared for me and saw only the load I was forced to carry. My dreams tormented every moment I was asleep and made me afraid to turn-in for the night.
I never made an attempt at my life. In fact I never had any real plans for carrying-out suicide. But I had come to feel worthless. I felt so much pain for the man I killed and his family and his friends. I felt pain for every person I had given a void that wouldnít be filled.
Through the time I was in the hospital I came to realize that I am no different from countless other soldiers that have done similar things in there time. I have accepted that these circumstances were forced on me by the man I was forced to take down. Iíve accepted that I am completely justified in my actions. I just wish it never happened.
I was diagnosed with PTSD, Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I can honestly say now that Iíve done more for my country than I ever thought I would. Iím happy for that fact. Iím happy that Iíve served my country and my God. Iím glad that Iíve helped. But, most of all, Iím ready for this next part of life. Iím ready to be who I was before things went to hell. Iím taking my family back west again. Iím taking them to where my kids will be with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Iíll go back to school. I might get into Psychology or I might fall back into television or maybe I might get into Computer Animation. Iíve never had so many doors open to me. But most importantly, Iíve never been so ready.
Thanks for sharing this with me.
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
Thank you for what you have given for our country. And good luck with the next stage of your life!
Posted by imogen (Member # 5485) on :
Best of luck for this next phase.
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
Best of luck with your future plans.
If you ever want to talk about this in more detail, let me know. I had a similar experience while I was in the Army.
I was mugged walking home, and and one of the muggers, 18 year old kid, died. They left me for dead as well, but I survived.
So while I am sure our situations were different, I might understand more than most. No pressure, just let me know.
Posted by Dragon (Member # 3670) on :
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
What a lot to carry, and what a lot to have had to process. I'm glad you are in a good space now, but I ache that you had to bear it.
Posted by ElJay (Member # 6358) on :
Oh, scott. . . *hugs*
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
I have nothing to contribute, except that I want to to show some minor support, so I am posting in your landmark thread, despite the fact that I have nothing to add.
Posted by Uprooted (Member # 8353) on :
I was wondering what I was going to type, and then read m_p_h's post, and I think all I can say is "ditto." And thanks for sharing. It makes what so many of our good people in the military are experiencing more real.
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
I think posting in here IS offering him something...and not something minor either.
Posted by airmanfour (Member # 6111) on :
Thank you for your service and your story.
If you're still in Georgia and anywhere near Augusta let me know and I'll buy you a drink.
Posted by Brinestone (Member # 5755) on :
I'm glad I read this, and I'm glad you wrote it. Nice to see you around again!
Posted by Ela (Member # 1365) on :
Thanks for sharing your story. And, yeah, what Brinestone said: Nice to see you around again.
Posted by Jon Boy (Member # 4284) on :
It's good to see you again, Scott. I hope everything works out for the best for you and your family.
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
Wow. Thanks for sharing that with us. It was powerful to read, and I imagine that it wasn't easy to write.
Posted by BlackBlade (Member # 8376) on :
It is to be hoped that this forum can offer you some semblance of tranquility after all you have experienced. Take a seat, and feel free to continue speaking, you have earned my attention.