Coming home is not easy for some vets. May this Memorial Day be a healing time for you, and a time to hold in the light those who made it home but are struggling to cope with that.
In this morning’s New York Times I read a helpful article by Benedict Carey, “After Thriving in Combat Tours, Veterans Are Struggling at Home.”
Carey shares some findings about what psychological dispositions make for a good warrior, and how these traits can be dysfunctional when a warrior returns home.
Another recommended reading is War, by Sabastian Junger, a photojournalist who was embedded with Marines in Afghanistan. That book will help you understand the geological and sociological terrain of Afghanistan, and why many American soldiers relished the firefights there:
1) Excitement! Adrenaline brings a natural high. One may never feel so alive as when one is so close to death.
2) Camaraderie: One’s platoon becomes a soldier’s tribe, the social unit enabling one to survive, and in turn demanding the deepest dedication.
3) Purpose: Many of the soldiers Junger writes about joined up for patriotic reasons; but it isn’t ideology that sustained them through hardship and danger, but rather, the primordial contest of surviving. Depending on each other to stay alive creates a bond like no other. Coming home to a flat emotional landscape, where no one seems dedicated to much of anything is a great let down for warriors who have tasted of deep belonging. They would gladly re-up and spin the wheel of fate one more time to regain it.