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July 11, 2013

Closing the Book

Back in October, I posted a picture of me with my kids and said that it would be the last post with any tie to my deployment. Well, let's just say that definitive statements such as that should come with an expiration date. Sort of like "I'll never drink vodka again." Because, well, this post is about deployment. Or, better yet, post-deployment.

Let me just get this out of the way now: as far as adjusting goes, I'm doing pretty well. It's been nearly nine months since I arrived home - the length of an average deployment. (In fact, as an example of tempus fugit, the unit that replaced us should be leaving FOB Shank at the very least or, best case, de-mobing now.) And while early on just being home and insinuating myself back into the routine was difficult, I think we are all gelling fairly well. There are still hiccups from time to time, but on the whole it hasn't been too traumatic.

Psychologically speaking i.e. PTSD, well, I think I dodged that bullet (ha!). There are things that cause me to tense up now and then, but on the whole, I sleep pretty well; I'm happy; and in the immortal words of the Godfather of Soul, I feel good. As far as the tensing thing, I'll give you an example: the Alarm tone on the iPhone is remarkably similar to an Incoming alarm which is why I used it as my wake up alarm while in Afcrapistan. However, after a while, you become inured to the sound and rather than sprint to a bunker or some other shelter, the reaction is more a frustrated, "Again? ::sigh::" (See my post from, whoa, nearly a year ago - Comfortable with the Uncomfortable) But now? I hear that sound used in radio commercials or someone else has it as their alarm tone and my ears perk up - the vernacular is a**hole puckering - I'm not looking for a bunker, mind you, it's just a little unnerving - I hope in time, it too will fade.

We all deal with our experiences in very different ways and some thing may have bothered one person while it had no effect on another. Case in point: I was texting with a couple of guys last week just to check in and see how they're doing. Jokingly, I texted a Coffee Talk-type question: Fireworks: awesome display of patriotism or nerve-wracking nuisance? Discuss. One of the guys replied he'd been bothered by them but then clarified to say that he was more bothered by the fact that they had bothered him more than they actually bothered him (ya follah?). I'm happy he was self-aware enough to recognize that it did bother him on some level and felt no shame in telling us it did. For many, that shame or lack of people who understand inhibits their ability to get the help they desperately need and we need to do more to help them cope.

When I got home in October, a question I was asked often was "What was it like?" This very same question is asked of everyone and, really, no one knows how to answer it. It's like asking your grandfather that fought in WWII "What was the war like, grandpa?" Usually, the subject gets changed or your told something inoccuous about France and that's about it. My usual response was "Shitty. I hate that f*ckin' country." That sentiment hasn't temprered with time either. I think constant readers of this blog have a pretty good understanding of what it was like - I like to think I was open and honest with you as far as I could be without worrying those closest to me unnecessarily. I'm happy I'll never go back. I like to think I'll never deploy again - once was enough. Knock on wood.

I'm back in uniform full-time now. For those of you keeping score, you'll know that one reason for deploying was my woeful state of employment - I just could not land a job for the life of me. I'm happy to say that I'm now doing what I think I was always meant to do and that's recruiting - finding smart, dedicated young men and women who want to make serving in the National Guard a part of their lives. Even after a decade of wars, hundreds of National Guard units deploying (the rule now rather than the exception) and constant uneasiness the world over, there are still thousands of kids enlisting each year. I hope that all translates into job security.

I won't promise this will be the last deployment post. I'll just say that I'm trying to put that part of my life behind me and appreciate the here and now with my family and friends. If something comes up that's worthy of writing about, I might serve it up, but for now, let's consider this the epilogue, okay? Cool.

mr. big dubya - Home Sweet Home


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