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No Ivy Leaguers in Afghanistan?

Discussion in 'Society and Culture' started by ethics, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Liked this a lot because it's coming from a soldier that was there, not some arm-chaired wannabe. But the story was not what I thought it would be. Quickly went on its own walk but I think I enjoyed it even more because of it.

    My Favorite quote was this, in which I've made the analogy with a motorcyclist:

    The most dangerous times of any deployment are the first and last thirty days. In the first thirty days, you don’t have the experience to keep you from making stupid mistakes. Add to that the swagger that any young person might have when heading off to war for the first time, and you’ve got a potentially dangerous combination. In short, you’re too stupid to realize that your aggressiveness and confidence is what is most likely to get you killed.

    During the last thirty days, you have the benefit of five to six months of combat experience, but you are tired and have convinced yourself that you have everything under control. You’ve patrolled the same roads and talked to the same people for half a year, and all you can think or talk about is going home. In short, you’ve become too cocky to realize that letting your guard down is what will get you killed. In both cases, it is our hubris that is our most dangerous enemy.

    But the core of his message was mental health and this was the focus:

    I’m concerned about the boys as they go back. The first ninety days can set the tone for their reintegration. These are young men who have stared death in the face and walked away unscathed. It can be hard to go back home and not become bored with the banality of modern life in America. Too many of these young men will try to recapture the thrill of combat by going home and driving fast cars, drinking heavily, self-medicating, or all three at once. Sometimes I wish that before we get home we could lock ourselves in a padded room with a couple of kegs of beer and some boxing gloves so that we could get most of the drinking and fighting out of our systems before we’re released back into the general public.


    http://magazine.columbia.edu/features/fall-2013/shades-green
     
  2. Arc

    Arc Full Member

    It's implied in the above but what's not directly stated is they are unable to talk or share with people about their experiences in Afghanistan/combat because they believe that no one would understand. So it stays bottled up. They also commonly develop strong hostility toward people in general that they view as just walking around living their lives in every way clueless to how good they have it and clueless to what the vet had experienced and how life is in places like Afghanistan---for everyone.
     
    ethics likes this.
  3. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    So how do we fix this? And believe me, I think this needs to be a focus because this is a huge issue not just for those coming back but for our entire society.
     
  4. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Yes, we should figure this out. But I do have a question. What makes these homecomings different than that experienced by vets of other foreign wars? I don't know what the key difference is, if there is one, but figuring that out my go a long way towards solving the issue.
     
  5. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    I didn't discern these vets with those previous. I think we should have done the same for them. All I am saying is that we are facing this now, with these vets, let's do something right for a change.

    I see and read so much mismanagement with our vets that I can't believe it's 2014 and we are repeating the same mistakes.
     
  6. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I don't think there is a difference from a practical standpoint, but it is possible that we who came back were able to handle it, being from a different generation than the kids coming home today? And for sure, society is different now than it was in, say, 1993.
     
  7. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    Vietnam vets weren't treated as well as they should have been when they returned to the U.S. Compared to those coming back from World War II, for example, it was terrible. People who were against the war often took it out on the vets who were hardly responsible for starting the war.

    This time around, I think there's a better distinction between the two, but we are living in a different climate. People are more self-absorbed, and there's not as much of a service orientation now, which is needed to run organizations like the VA. I can't make a blanket statement here because people are not all the same, but there's less caring and much less civility now than back in the 70s.
     
  8. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    I agree, SM, especially if you compare WWII vets with the current ones.

     
  9. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    You really think it's different or it's just more exposed now because of military personnel not being as closed up? With the internet and exposure to all of this?
     
  10. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    I tend to agree with SM. Kids today are raised in an environment that is pretty different from what previous generations were raised in. More entitlement, more coddling, and heading to a war zone is a rude awakening from the "special snowflake" environment many were raised in.
     
    Allene likes this.
  11. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Yes, I do. We've been going through a substantial shift over the past thirty years or so. One of the things that this change is bleeding out of us is the warrior ethic. It used to be that the hungriest wolf in the room got to eat, but now, it's the neediest. That's extending to our military, as well.
     
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  12. SixofNine

    SixofNine Jedi Sage Staff Member

    "Crazed Vietnam vet" was the butt of jokes for many years. When I see and hear all of those nice "Thank you for your service" greetings, beer commercials showing returning soldiers getting applauded in airports, I think of those folks returning from Vietnam.
     
  13. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    Thank you for thinking of them, Brian. I was living in Boston then, and it was a very hard thing for me to watch.

     
  14. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Obviously I have no first hand experience then nor now. Perception wise it seems like we are doing the same mistakes when it comes to vets.
     
  15. Arc

    Arc Full Member

    It's not "fixable." The only thing that will change is that with the "end" of the war in Afghanistan every violent crime committed in the USA by a vet from Afghanistan and to a lesser degree Iraq it will be pointed out that the perpetrator is a vet---regardless whether or not that is relevant.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  16. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    One other random thought:

    After WW2, it took a fair amount of time for most vets to get home, and they traveled in groups of other vets. Liberty ships took a week or so to transit the Atlantic, and probably longer for the Pacific, I think. So aside from being from a different generation with a different mindset, they had some safe time with a bunch of people who had gone through the same experiences, so they could decompress.

    These days, troops can be home before they've had a chance to shower.

    I have to wonder if maybe the changes in OPTEMPO have something to do with it, too. From Vietnam on, it seems to me that there wasn't really a "rear area" that was safe, and away from combat.
     
  17. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    That's a great thought, Bob. A week in the middle won't hurt anyone and may save a mental health?
     
  18. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    My uncle went across the channel with the Canadians to rebuild bridges the day after D-Day. He had problems when he got home--nightmares, sleep-walking around with a poker in the middle of the night, etc.--what would be called PTSD today. He recovered from it really well though--without VA--because he was a mature man, although still 20-something. He also had a lot of emotional support from an extended family who were locally available. Then he got married to a really nice woman, and that helped even more. He loved going to his unit's reunions, and one of his old buddies from the bridge-building period lived near him. Today many families are scattered all over the place, with fewer friends and family around them. Loneliness just magnifies everything else that's going wrong.
     

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