Below is an article written by my son...
How does it feel for us?
Everyone always gives their condolences to mothers and wives and girlfriends of military members for the burden they bear while their loved ones are gone. Honestly no one will ever understand how that person feels unless they themselves have gone through it. Another note is the fact that no one ever asks the soldier what his greatest sacrifice is and how he feels about leaving his family and friends and everything he knows and loves behind to travel across the world to fight in a war and kill people he doesn’t know. As a veteran of multiple combat deployments I will shed some light on this for the people who do not understand where I am taking this.
When a soldier gets notified that he is being deployed a whole lot gets put on his metaphorical plate of life. The unknown stresses that come with having to tell your family you are going to be gone for however long they tell him to be are one of the hardest things someone can do. He has to explain to his children who do not understand why he serves his country and why he is willing to sacrifice his family, his friends and his life for something as unpopular as war. What is worse though is being a leader in charge of soldiers. On top of the stress of breaking the news to his family, not only does he have his problems to deal with but those of his soldiers. A leader can have as many as 30 or even more under his command and as low as four which we call a fire team. So a soldier who has four team members below him has four sets of problems, four sets of personalities, as well as his own. The stress of a deployment isn’t in what you have to do. It is whether or not what you are doing is correct and keeping everyone as safe as possible while doing it.
The worst thing however about deployments and how the soldier feels isn’t adapting to society after getting back. Nor is it dealing with the fact that people have died by his hand. It is trying to find a purpose with his life after such an event. A person sees things in a completely different light when he deploys. He feels his life is useless afterwards and that he doesn’t serve a purpose. He tries to find meaning in his life and he tries to make things important. He knows it doesn’t give him the satisfaction of watching his buddies back in a firefight or have quick enough reflexes to realize someone is a threat or not. People are under the misconception that it is about the war and that’s why soldiers enlist. Civilians don’t realize that there is a brotherhood that happens with people you serve with in a combat zone. It is always about protecting your friends that have become family. There is nothing they won’t do for each other. That is the point of being a soldier. Part of the soldier’s creed is “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” Think about that for a second and how powerful those words really are. What it is saying is I will not only save my best friend out there or even an acquaintance. It is simply stating that I will help even the soldier that I hate more than anyone on the planet. Whether or not someone is your friend does not matter once bullets start flying.
People don’t ever realize how soldiers feel after such life changing events or even in the process of these events. People say when a soldier dies he makes the biggest sacrifice. That isn’t true. That is in my opinion not the case. I would say that when a soldier dies it’s not him who made this biggest sacrifice, it’s his family. His mother will never see her son again. His wife will never hold him again. His children will wonder why their daddy has not come home. They won’t understand that he gave his life so they could live in a free world or the closest thing to it. Now granted when a soldier dies it is a horrible event but the greatest sacrifice a soldier makes is leaving his family and stepping out of his comfort zone and hoping and praying that when he leaves his family will be ok. Soldiers have a lot to worry about. Not only do they have to stay alive, they worry about their families and how they are dealing with it. They hear bad stuff from home and have to deal with it because they can’t fix it from the other side of the world. They have to trust people back home not to screw up and keep everything in order. In my mind that is the biggest sacrifice.
Deployments do crazy things to people. A soldier’s wife could love him more than anything on this world. They could have had a happy marriage before he left and an almost perfect life with their kids. Then all of a sudden though someone out of the blue plays hero to his wife while he is gone, consoling her because he knows she is in a moment of weakness and then that marriage has pretty much ended. If the soldier finds out about it he will be devastated and wonder what he did wrong. A lot of the times when cheating happens to the soldier the person who did the cheating shifts the blame to them because they are gone. It is a terrible thing to experience. I am not saying that all soldiers are angels. That was merely an example. So many things can happen on a deployment to both the soldier and his family. While the wife or girlfriend or mother has to worry about their soldier living or dying, he has to worry about so much more while being gone. So next time you want to tell someone you know they are going through or you understand how hard it is, ask yourself this question. Do I really know how they feel or am I just making a careless observation? Ask yourself as well before you go up to a soldier and ask him how he feels about what he did that you understand his point of view of the world and the people in it after everything he has gone through. You will however be lucky to get an honest answer of how he feels because no one ever asks us.
Cpl DAG Scania/Iraq
Thank you Derek - and those thousands and thousands other young men (and old) and women who are serving our country in this way - more than words can say, I appreciate you all!!!!