Welcome to my warrior mind.
You’ve just chosen to experience real-time therapy, warrior style. With a keyboard and LED screen, I’m putting pen to paper getting my mind to do the work. The hard work. Puking up shitty memories of a past I cannot recover. All in hopes I can crossover into a new life where I find Jojo, Little Man and a new bike. The very sources of my peace.
Keep in mind, this is me speaking for myself, not other warriors. Or, I’m speaking for other warriors. Not certain which way this is working. I want to make something clear. Let me get something out of my system. “Fuck” the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). The very federal government agency designed with one purpose. VBA is supposed to provide financial and other forms of assistance (Education and small business advising) to veterans and their dependents. Personally, because of my choices with failing to manage my health combined with being deemed incompetent and the unwillingness of the VBA to invest in me, I can no longer receive those benefits. With that said, I will give credit to many in the Veterans Affairs (VA) medical system who tried to help, even more, I will single out a Psychologist and two Social Workers who never quit on me. They proved passionate in their fields, which was enough for me.
Let me make this clear. You are damned right I’m screaming for attention! I’m screaming for all our attention. Rangers lead the fucking way…What’s on my mind are not only my own memories, more importantly, the memories of Vietnam veterans and World War II and Korean warriors, even World War I vets who could never talk and reveal their experiences.
Yes, I realize how I’m not fighting anymore. Problem is how you simply cannot take the warrior out of the warrior. What you now see, maybe thoughts of a wounded warrior, or someone who cannot forget. It is reality as I know it. Where I go is down a repeated path filled with mixed memories you want to forget. These memories don’t wait for some anniversary date to remember. For fuck sakes, it’s February. Nothing bad, except the Super Bowl, winter storms, ice, Valentines and St. Patty’s day happens in winter. For me, it’s 9/11 and war all over again. What was a memory before 9/11, no longer exists today. Lost in a past I cannot remember, today left with a life that no longer stimulates. Now, everyday is the same. Waking up to realize I’m alive safe somewhere in America interrupted with memories of a past life I can no longer lead. There is no way I can travel overseas again to fight for this country. So far out of practice, I would be ineffective at best.
What I think today is not how I thought after 9/11. When I left for war, I prepared for battle and did well overseas. Preparing for war is what you did. It was your job. Where we all fucked up, not once did we talk about what we do after war. It’s what happens after you return home where life will change forever. Good luck to you who have no support to return home to. If you are alone, may God help, you. For those of us with a life trying to move past war, just keep your baggage away from us. We support you and what you did, in the same breath, it’s you; we fear will drag us down.
Perhaps similar to your life or nothing compared. Fact is we’ve walked different paths leading to much different views of the world we call home. For you, it’s as the civilian, and I as the warrior. Not that we are better than the other, instead, for me, today and everyday, things are on my mind. Last night they appeared joyous at times yet, a split second later, they were painful the next. As if it was extremely clear and concise the moments they occurred. The brisk memories are the sharpest ones leaving burns on the mind like tattoos, never forgotten.
Times best be forgotten, it never does, nor will ever again. It was that time, the very September morning, approaching Indian summer at 8:45. All those experiences in such a short time, were found on that mysterious yet simple Tuesday. Under those clear sapphire skies, the free world came to life no different from any other weekday. Something so unpredictable violently shook life as you knew it leaving everyone speechless. How in the fuck could people do this? Are they human? What is acceptable on battlefields abroad are despicable here at home.
No different from you, my friends and teammates or those families who’ve lost loved ones at ground zero, these personal memories are my own. In late fall 2001, as warriors, we all went forward with good memories of our home land. Now, they’ve become distracted by hints of disturbed accounts of a world painted in brown, tan dusty deserts interrupted with overpowering smells of a land abroad. We weren’t ready to be overcome by new-found realities. It’s where our minds slowly started to peel like onions. The new found conflict comes much later than 9/11. Found only when everyone is still in a reactive state simply trying to survive the repeated trips after trips overseas. With no time to comprehend battles and lives lost, because no one understands mental health and warriors, we are forced to hide our issues. When our families came apart at the seams, or we compensated at home and money dried up, it’s here where we become distracted and lost our minds. It’s the reminders of those dark days forever dictating our tomorrows. Today, our minds carry distracting baggage carelessly dragged around filled with unwanted emotions. Fuck off. I’m a man; I struggle with feelings. Why in the fuck can I not understand?
In this following video, you will see up close the Al Qaeda terror training camp known as Tarnak Farms. Sitting south of Kandahar, Afghanistan, ten years ago, our team of operators and pilots over took Tarnak Farms, the Kandahar Airport and city of Kandahar. What they describe in this video mostly captures what we accomplished.
Looking at the remnants of Tarnak, you have no idea how fucking proud I am of my teammates and myself.
For us as warriors within weeks after 9/11, we carry reminders of ground zero from a different angle. We weren’t the ones who placed photos, flowers and notes begging the world to find our family members and lost loved ones in Manhattan, Alexandria, VA and Pennsylvania. Instead, we were the ones who looked at those pictures. We left home and chose to do our jobs and do them well. What we trained to do. It was our calling at a time of need.
With us, overseas we carried the mental chain linked fences and their purpose, driven by the NYPD and NYFD ball caps we wore, never forgetting the faces of the lost. Carrying with us to the lands once roamed by Genghis Kahn, the very sources of extremism now found on our doorsteps at home.
Later to follow, all your choices and actions never forgotten in the past. It is those memories that at no time leave. The new conflict is found in all the bright memories of battles survived and victories found, yet behaviors and choices made in war that cloud and contrast with everyday life now trapped as memories in your mind. “Did you see that mother fucker bounce?” “Holy shit, it took four fuckin bombs for that fucker to go down!” Hahahaha! “Oh shit, did you see that? Was that right? Are we going to get in trouble for this?”
After 9/11, it’s more than these memories that complicate life. It’s the new-found behaviors even fears and distrust slowly creeping up to reveal themselves. Whether wanting to or not, those feelings and emotions will always raise their head. Everyday, reminders and recollections both good and bad now follow us everywhere we go. If we do this right, you will never know or see what we don’t understand.
One moment the piercing images of streaking white vapor trail cutting the clear blue skies became mixed realities. As a civilian, for the rest of your life, it’s an airliner filled with innocents now targeting Americans. In contrast, for warriors, that plane you see above, could be the response to those horrific attacks. Found in the form of a welcomed US Air Force B-52 Buff at 40,000 feet in the air, those planes are filled with 100,000 lbs of iron bombs, which take only 55 seconds to impact on the ground designated specifically for “Arabs.” You raised your voices in joy at the sight of their destruction. All the way until the father walked forward with his daughter in hand left without a jaw. That’s when life smacks you in the face leaving you to stand in disgust yet confusion. Asking yourself, “is this the way it’s supposed to be? Life?”
As modern-day Americans, life as we know it are now filled with those very memories smashed against the original images of the lost ones posted on chain-link fences near “Ground Zero.” Following 9/11, before warriors even left from the United States, we all carried fresh signs, and memories now seared deep within our American minds. Up until 9/11, we carried in peace, mostly good memories now dissected with disturbing accounts of what took place that terrible day. What’s so incomprehensible is the fact as Americans, we were caught off guard. People aren’t supposed to fuck with us? We are Americans, the home of the free world. We dominate others, have done so for the past 150 years. As a free nation boasting in what we feel is the best in the world, we now found ourselves with pants down, left with our innocence now departed. How in the fuck did we allow those men, the animals, to get away with this? How could they have taken advantage of us or taken us for granted? Where did we all go wrong?
Some would say a lesson long learned, or a tale best never told, on our own airliners, nineteen made it through to our planes. All at a time, family could be met at airport concourses and gates. When others would welcome loved one’s home, with no hello, these men said their good-byes long before that fall day. Albeit, with arms raised and finger held high, their version of the book in hand and America, as their source, fueling their rage and resentment, all ingredients for recipes of their evil. However, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter!
Images and memories that come to mind, so piercing, threats to our way of life, now felt naked in our freedoms. To everyone that horrific day, no where again could we walk in peace.
Life after war now never fails to surprise me. At times, I find myself surrounded by a hurricane of thoughts. At first, I see memories on mental horizons, approaching before they arrive. It’s the other reminders that catch me off guard. Leaving me to fight, wrestling them to the ground, finally, putting them away, only to return again later. That is my dilemma. Why? What are we supposed to do? How do you carry this weight of past choices, and the images yet not forget? It’s consequences of my actions. That is why I cannot keep them down forever hidden from sight.
I refuse the “silent agreement” where warriors come home not wanting to talk and share. Fact is how every warrior wants to talk; they just cannot. Some don’t want to remember; others don’t understand how to translate the experiences in plain language. Reality is how memories of war leave men and women speechless. The mind clearly remembers what happened. However, the brain cannot guide a warrior fully revealing confidently discussing what is recounted. Warriors feel ashamed even wrong for either their behavior overseas or how they had to do what they could to survive. What happens in war does not reflect real life. Or is war real-life of man, only forgotten over time? Reality is how warrior experiences are so piercing, and surreal, words cannot capture what the brain begs to understand. Failing to comprehend leaves one with memories and images lost in the mind to swirl in distraction.
You know what is the worst part? Family, friends and those you’ve never met simply do not know how to listen. It’s not their fault; I know that. However, as a warrior, you feel wrong for even trying. Life is that way, a strange way where it’s not accepted to talk about war. Those who do, were either not there, or feel insecure needing attention. Those who know, don’t talk. Fuck that shit. I want to talk. What I did was right. It had to be done and I’m proud for what we did. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done far more than we did. Fuck those mother fuckers (This is where I discard the ways of true warriors…). Convincing myself everything was right, yet I know I did my best. I could have done more even better. Yet, I’m not left with many thoughts wishing for something different. Just images of the girl without a jaw. The innocent one no longer with a mother or siblings and cousins. That’s the part I cannot stomach.
In the minds of everyday citizens who’ve never carried a weapon, in the past have simply viewed wounded warriors as broken veterans destined for failure. Unable to let go of the past, untrained for civilian life, all to see failed marriages, lost jobs even living under bridges surrounded by discarded liquor bottles. In the eyes of those who chose not to go, those with hidden injuries no longer become productive members of society. Instead, they are a burden, left alone as baggage to our American way of life. Sure, they say they are proud of their sacrifices and want to help. Fact is on the other sides of the doors to mental wards; none of them appear. It’s the warriors carrying the weight of their choices, held down by consequences. Why won’t people understand it’s not what we want?
With all that said, I refuse to deal with the past alone. I refuse to put up with your failure to understand. It’s me who wants to comprehend. I already spent my time and energy thinking about you overseas. It was you; I thought about when I made the choices I did. It’s not your time anymore. Now, it’s my time to think and simply deal with the life I’m left with. I refuse to accept anything less than the best. It’s me who wants to stop the madness and move on in life. At one moment, I’m proud, the other ashamed, lastly left speechless. Leave me the fuck alone.
Pardon the reminders, I’m the bringing up the subject how every day and night; distractions follow like shadows. The goal is to comprehend, moving forward letting go. A goal is a dream with a timeline. That time is now. Walk with me where I may roam. Don’t expect action hero stories even doom and gloom where inappropriate descriptions of the dead and mangled. Instead, go where I go and help me understand. All to move forward towards better lives…
The memories of the moments, planes and skyscrapers, forever branded deep within our brains.
Those actions are what fueled our own responses. Images and memories of their lands, what they built and how they did it. Surreal at first, focused next, actions followed. Fierce drive for justice led our actions. Alone, in the middle of dark nights abroad held skies filled with our own planes, tracking down the lost. It was hunting and removing the source that comes to mind everyday. Pure revenge, what true warriors are not supposed to do. The eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, it all seemed right…at the time. However, they were not the warriors. No uniform, no rules of warfare, they chose to hide within civilians yet pluck us off one by one.
To this day, it all must be done. Whether we were the source of their actions or not, what will not be forgotten are the images and photos posted on the chain linked fences. Not asking for forgiveness, for our maker will provide. Tell me simply, did it all work? There will be no parades, nor do we want the attention. Just tell us this…don’t say thank you, or you appreciate the sacrifices. Simply answer this question. Did we do right.
Forget all the memories and questions above that distract me by the day. Because I’m the one who chose to go to war, I will live with the consequences, yet ultimately find and lead a good life. That’s what true warriors do.
See how this treatment works? This writing post is called true fucking therapy! If you got this far, thank you. It helped.
Deep within, I know we did right.
Prepare to Crossover