Thank You For Your Service

It was when he came home from his third tour that he knew it wasn’t going to get better.

The second tour was involuntary, what they called a stop-loss.

He’d been home from Afghanistan three weeks when he was ordered to Iraq.

It was the early days, before they knew to avoid boxes in the road.

Three times he saw the Hummer in front of him blown apart by an IED, the men inside transformed to bloody rags.

He still saw them in dreams.

He pulled his truck into the VA parking lot, cranked the Zeppelin.

He opened the glove-box.

Friday Fictioneers

At least 22 military veterans committed suicide at VA centers in the U.S. in the last 18 months, including a Texas man who shot himself this month in the waiting room of a VA clinic.

Veteran suicide is an acute crisis wrapped in a national crisis. Between 2005 and 2016, suicide rates in the general population climbed 21%. For veterans, already taking their lives at twice the U.S. rate, it climbed 26%. More than 6,000 veterans are dying by their own hands each year – nearly 20 a day.

The best way to thank them for their service is to question America’s obsession with war. There is no glory in it, no valor. It is only death and nightmares.

13 thoughts on “Thank You For Your Service

    • “Shell shock” or “combat fatigue.” The only veterans gung-ho about war were the ones who never saw action. (The exception, of course, is the psychopath, thankfully rare). Thanks for commenting.

  1. Grisly death is not glorious. But we are stuck in such a quandary, because if we simply lay down our arms then we also surrender our freedom. A clean sweep of all politicians might help. Or at least refusing to pay them unless they produce positive work.

    • I absolutely disagree with you. That is a lie perpetrated by those who profit on the suffering and bloodshed of others, those who never fight themselves. The forces of greed, racism, hatred, and cruelty have told this lie for many years. USMC General Smedley Butler, two-time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, wrote a treatise called “War is a Racket” in 1935, prior to WW2. He accurately describes the avarice and single-mindedness of the corporate overlords who continue to sell us this bill of goods. If good people such as yourself accept this lie without question, it becomes all the harder to change things. I beg of you to take a close look at this core belief. The word “freedom” usually equates to some form of oppression or savagery, at least as far as history shows us.

  2. When our economy makes joining the service an attractive option for the untrained and uneducated, this is the end game. It’s a planned obsolescence of a human resource. Until we mandate that the children, siblings, and other family members of Congress are on the front lines, there will be no interruption of the war machine. Who was it that asked the question, “What if there was a war and nobody showed up?” We COULD shut it down if every soldier decided no more. Same as if the police on the streets said no more.

  3. That stop-loss should be abolished. It’s bad enough to do one tour, even voluntarily (because who the hell knows what they are really getting into until they are there?)
    Too many vets with nowhere to go. Well done, sir.

  4. Well written, very poignant, and I was especially touched and saddened by those stats. Law enforcement will always be needed and armed; as Linda said, arms will always be needed for the defense of a country. But to go diving into foreign wars… Yes, time to take a good long look at how necessary this is. Especially, is it right to use another country as a testing ground for the latest chemicals and weapons?

    I’m told that in WWII, before the Japanese drew the US into combat, the States was selling arms both to the Allies and Axis powers. Then when they entered the war they immediately confiscated all German-owned businesses in the US with no compensation. As a nation we’re certainly glad the US came in on the Allied side, but war and armaments aren’t always as clear-cut or righteous as the Powers want people to think.

  5. I learned a lot both from your story & the notes along with it. It is tremendously sad & you’ve written a brilliantly emotive piece which highlights a very important issue.

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