One Ill Turn
Every time a Soldier does something stupid, another Soldier has to sit through a brief about it.
Every time a Soldier does something stupid, another Soldier has to sit through a brief about it.
Whitney’s televised funeral was earlier this morning, and I’m sure there were millions of viewers. For whatever reason we are a society that seems to idolise celebrities, even though they don’t really do anything that special. Think of the millions of Michael Jackson fans (myself included) that were transfixed by the non-stop coverage after his death. If you say something bad about Beyonce to one of her fans, they call you a hater and they want to punch you in the face. On the flip side of the coin, these same people will deny that they idolise anybody. As one girl I know put it, “I just respect Beyonce.” Respect her? How, when you have never met her. At any rate, regarding Whitney Houston, there was quite the buzz on whether or not Bobby Brown would attend her funeral, and one person put it like this:
“Who cares, we have soldiers over in Afghanistan and other places fighting for our freedom and rights that die everyday. Do we see the soldiers get this special treatment? No! They deserve flags being half-staff and the publicity these addict celebrities get! Get over it already it makes me sick that the media makes a big deal about when a celebrity has passed and now the state of New Jersey will be flying the flag at half-staff for this addict … Our real heroes are our soldiers that sacrifice so much to fight in war for us.”
-Danielle Slaven Conley
As much as I love some Whitney (pre-crackhead Whitney) I agree with Conley. Flying the flag at half-staff because a singer died. Much celebrated as she is, she’s still just a singer and hasn’t done anything particularly special to deserve that sort of treatment.
It’s just something to think about, this level of love we give to people we don’t even know.
About 50 times a day we receive emails from the base command regarding the status of things around post. The emails can be anything from “the hospital is closed until further notice” or “the chow hall has run out of food.” Most of the time the information does not pertain to me so I just delete it, but every now and again they send out something that is truly important. I received an email the other day stating that certain facilities will close early in honour of Valentine’s Day. I was rather taken aback by this because I did not know that Valentine’s Day is a federally recognised holiday. I am not one to begrudge anybody some time off, but I just thought it was peculiar, particularly in this environment. This is not like we’re back home and you can get off an hour or two early to take your sweetheart out for some fine dining and a moonlit walk by the bay. Perhaps those particular offices are having a sweetheart dance, or maybe the extra hour off is so they can take their deployment wives to a free movie at the theatre tent. Nothing says romance like his and her PT belts.
In other news, it has been reported that the neighbourhood pizza place is back in business. Employees were seen cleaning rat traps just two days ago, indicating that they may have cleaned up whatever made them fail inspection in the first place. No news on whether soldiers are actually allowed to eat at the place. We may only be allowed to stand around outside to take in the wafting aroma of cat meat in tomato sauce. It is possible that health inspectors will have to do another walk through, followed by taste testing to determine the safety of the food. All privates report to the pizza place immediately. If they float then they are not witches like we thought.
Sunday I will be transferred to a supermax prison facility for a period not to exceed 14 days. At first I was excited but then I realise exactly what I got myself into. It’s like this guy I once knew who got into some minor trouble with the law. Since he was a single father with all these kids to support the court system sentenced him to 20 weekends in jail. Monday through Friday he worked at his thankless job and then Friday nights he reported to the county jail where he spent the entire weekend, only to be let out to start the whole charade again. I never heard of such a thing until I joined the army and I realised it was called drill weekend.
I will update my blog via carrier pigeon if necessary.
It must have been the money for college. The recruiter talked about things like bonuses and special pay and your mind boggled with the possibilities. Or maybe it was because you didn’t have any plans after high school. You lived in a small po-dunk town with very few options and it seemed like a good idea at the time. All your friends had plans and you didn’t want to be the only one hanging around. Or maybe college just wasn’t for you and you needed a job skill that was transferable to the real world. Maybe you just didn’t have anything else to do at the time and your friend talked you into it and you heard that chicks dig guys in uniform.
Or maybe you really do believe in all that stuff about God and country. You feel a sense of pride when you look at the flag and you love to tell people how American you are. Maybe because you didn’t ask what your country could do for you but what you could do for your country. Maybe your father was a soldier. Maybe your grandfather landed on Omaha. Maybe you got inspired by 9/11. You answered the call to take up arms in the name of peace. Maybe you believed in the War on Terror, or maybe you didn’t even know who Osama ben Laden was before everything went down. You don’t know anything about weapons of mass destruction. Maybe Saddam Hussein was really a tyrant. maybe you don’t even care. Maybe you’ve never even given it a thought.
You just think about how long it’s been since you’ve been home and how come you haven’t gotten a care package in weeks. You’re wondering why you volunteered again and what the consequences of that might be. You’re thinking about the things you’ve seen and the things you’re gonna see. You wonder if the next time you step outside that wire might be the last time. You get that feeling in your gut when the convoy has to stop. And when you make it back in, maybe you thank God and maybe you don’t, because you don’t believe in that kind of stuff. Whatever the case may be, you’re just glad to be alive. But then you hear about a buddy of yours in another company.
And you start thinking about getting back home. You’re tired of waking up at o’dark-thirty. You’re tired of the crappy food and the limited selection at the PX. You miss your mom’s apple pie and going for long runs with your dog Spot. You left the hot rod in the garage and it’s waiting for a fresh coat of paint. You haven’t worn anything new in months and it doesn’t matter because you’re not going anywhere anyway.
And when you do get back home, maybe you come home to a hero’s welcome and maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ll be met by protesters. Maybe the media will follow you around when all you want is a little bit of quiet. If you come home in one piece you consider yourself lucky. Your body is in tact but it’s your soul that you have to worry about. Forget about the fact that your friends and family don’t seem to understand why you keep getting called up. They don’t know the difference between volunteer and volun-told. You don’t even know why you’re doing it to yourself.
When you look in the mirror and ask yourself why, you can’t come up with an answer. Maybe you like the way you look in uniform. Maybe you’re proud of that patch on your shoulder. Maybe you’ve achieved a goal after working so hard for so long. You’re a pilot. You’re an officer. You finally got your stripes. Maybe you feel like you’re apart of something greater than yourself. Maybe you feel like you’re a member of a team. Maybe when you’re with your buddies you feel like you finally belong. Now you have a family.
Or maybe you think about all the sacrifices you’ve had to make. You’ve missed your tenth anniversary and your wife has moved on. Your son spoke his first words while you were gone. You missed your daughter’s prom. You were supposed to be the maid of honour at your best friend’s wedding. It seems like everyone has moved on with their lives and you’re still in the same place. Maybe it’s bittersweet and it is what it is. Maybe you feel small, like nothing you do is making a difference. Maybe you feel like nobody cares and you’re alone in the world.
So you go back to what you know. You’re a Marine. You’re a soldier. You’re a sailor. You’re an airman. There’s never any rhyme or reason. If they ask you the question you can’t quite explain it. Maybe you do it so that someone else won’t have to. Maybe you do it because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t know why you care. You don’t know why you don’t care. There’s just something in you and you’re going with your gut instinct.
It must have been the college money because there’s no way any sane person would put up with this. You’re thinking that your recruiter lied to you because all those bonuses and special pay don’t quite make up for all of this. The sleepless nights, the thanklessness, the melancholy and the stress. Yet time and time again, you put on that uniform and you head out that door to do your duty. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. You figure, whatever the reasons are, and who knows the reasons why, you did it and now someone else doesn’t have to.
Thanks a lot, Major Hasan.
Because of you more than likely I’m going to have to sit through another tedious round of briefings aimed at making me a more mentally solvent soldier. The army, like the rest of the government, is reactive. They never do anything about anything until after something happens.
Soldiers are committing suicide at a rate much higher than the national rate. After all these soldiers have hung, shot and stabbed themselves to death, the army decided to upgrade its suicide prevention classes. Just last month I had to sit through several hours of training: long-winded power point presentations, videos and a forced class discussion, you know the kind where you have to participate even if you don’t have anything relevant to say.
So now we have some jackass who decides to go shoot up an army base. Had he been your local nut case, some anti-military activist, this wouldn’t even be a big deal. No, I don’t mean the deaths of all those people aren’t a big deal, but I mean there wouldn’t be this in depth thing about it. Kind of like the guy who shot up the Holocaust Museum. They talked about it on the news but as soon as they found out the guy was a racist, everybody was like, oh, okay. He was racist; yeah this is what you expect from racists. It’s not that shocking.
Major Hasan, or Major Nidal, whatever, doesn’t have a readily available motive. He was some officer who had been through years of schooling at the army’s expense. He counselled soldiers just home from the war. He listened to people’s horror stories as they battled PTSD. Then he decides to shoot up a processing centre full of soldiers who are about to be deployed.
I’m not an investigator but maybe he has thing against the war. His own family said he was mortified about his upcoming deployment. He had never been deployed before, and I guess after listening to all those soldiers talk about their own terrors, he just decided that maybe Iraq/Afghanistan was not the place he wanted to be. I don’t blame you, buddy, I’m not too thrilled either. Not exactly my idea of a vacation destination, but I’m not really in the mood to go shoot up an army base.
I’ve read some reports that this guy may have made some questionable comments about suicide bombers. Something about likening these lunatics with soldiers who throw themselves on grenades to save their comrades. I’m not sure how that’s the same thing, but if you want to believe that, that’s your perogative. At any rate, they are not 100% sure that he made those comments. They are still investigating. There’s a lot to be investigated.
But this is just another black smudge!
When my sister asked me if I’d heard about the Ft. Hood shootings, I immediately ran to my computer and got on CNN. When I read his name NIDAL MALIK HASAN, I was like, “Oh, Lord, here we go again.” I was hoping that there was no real connection that it just happened to be his name and he shot up the place because he was a drugged-crazed maniac, not because he was an anti-war, radical Muslim.
It’s the same since of dread I get when I read a black person’s name in connection with something heinous. LeRoy Jenkins robbed a bank and shot down 12 people. Oh, God, you know he’s black. Everything about my identity piles up like bile in my throat. Because there’s always talk.
I have drill next weekend. Are they going to talk about this? Are they going to talk about “warning signs,” and how to tell if your peers are on the verge of a homicidal episode? Perhaps. Someone is going to link this to the same techniques used to detect suicidism in our friends. “Folks, just like we’re being trained to watch out for potential suicide attempts, you can also use these same skills to prevent homicides.”
And then someone is going to make that leap. It only takes one person. “I heard the guy was an Islamic militant.” Flashback: AIT 2007. I was in class when an instructor stated that we [the United States] should round up all the Muslims and put them in an internment camp like we did back during World War II with the Japanese.
“Because we don’t know what these people are up to,” said the instructor.
Gee, thanks. I won’t tell you how that story ended, but we already know me, my mouth and my dramatics. We’ll just leave it at that.
At any rate, I’m glad they didn’t kill Major Nidal. I hate it when they either kill themselves or they get killed. If you’re balls out brass enough to do something like this, then you should be balls out brass enough to stand up and take your licks like a man. Killing yourself is lame. I know the cops have to shoot you down to neutralise the situation, but I still wish they would go for the kneecaps in the hopes that you will stop the rampage, but we can capture you alive. We never get to hear the full story. Oh, the FBI goes to search the home and they piece together what they think is really going on, but they don’t know. I hope this guy survives. I want to hear him speak. I want to hear his side.
What’s really going on? Are you a lame ass coward? Were you really that terrified of going to Iraq/Afghanistan that this was the only way you could think of to get out of it? Are you an extremist? Are you in a sleeper cell? Do you really think that suicide bombers and soldiers who throw themselves on grenades are the same? What? What? What?
The papers don’t say what sort of condition he’s in. Initially, they had said he was dead. They also reported that there might have been others. Man, I wish I could be a spider on his wall right about now. Inquiring minds want to know.