Thinking About Iraq

Posted by Katherine | September 24, 2008 – 10:35 pm
Marine arriving back in US
Home [Jayel Aheram / Flickr]

The economy, Sarah Palin, and, well, the economy have largely replaced Iraq in campaign-related headlines. For many voters, the war may resurface during the first presidential debate (in theory happening on Friday), which will focus on foreign-policy issues. For veterans, the war never went away. Alex from Austin, Texas, wrote “a guide to coming back” on September 11th, a year after he returned home. In it he describes some of the ways Iraq affects him daily (thanks, Sarolta Cump):

No matter your thoughts on the war and the military, you will want to go back. You will crave the adrenaline rush of a firefight and the intertwining smell of gunpowder and rotting trash under the desert sun. Compared to the civilian world, deployed life is resoundingly simple. You’re not concerned with car payments, traffic, American Idol or getting your hair to do that flippy thing. In combat, you’re looking to avoid your ass getting shot. […] Back in the states, you’re another face in the crowd, paying taxes like every other sucker. Take away our guns and we’re nothing. Not a damn thing.

On the flipside, life is sweeter coming out the other side. I’m still amazed to drive down the road, pick up groceries and arrive back safely. The satisfaction of a completed deployment will not lift any time soon. We have earned through blood and sweat a fresh, shrewd perspective on the world that many in our country are not afforded. It might not be apparent yet, but a whole lifetime of experience is crammed into a deployment. You have a different way of looking at things when you realize it was you at the other end of the sniper’s scope. Life will forever be different, for better and for worse.

Alex notes, too, that redeploying means having to deal with an “uninformed and apathetic public,” which he says “will be a frustrating ordeal if you trend left, right or middle.”

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