By Bam Bamrick
I got to thinking about that and came to the conclusion that, while the grind of military life may well be a young man’s game, once you raise your right hand, take the Oath, and leave family and friends behind, you can never go back to what you were. Once you go out into the world, you can never go back. You are, irrevocably, changed.
Once you leave active duty, the nature of your battle changes, but the fight is still on, nonetheless.
I would suggest that the correct path is that of the Wise Warrior. To be a role model for your brothers and sisters, and the civilians around you.
For us, who have gone forth, the battle is never over. It simply changes its nature, from hot to cold, large to small, from armies to individuals.
For some of us, the battle is within us, trying to reconcile the past, trying to get through another minute, another hour, another day, or often, through a sleepless and terrifying night. For others, it’s trying to feed yourself and your family, in this strange land, full of people who don’t think or act right and trying to find some gainful employment when virtually all of your employment history has no civilian side use.
For us, who have gone forth into the world, seen the evil that men can visit upon one another, or the chaos that ensues when the equipment you’re using, (from the lowest bidder), says “screw it, I’m done”, while you’re in midair, or the sea decides to rise up against you, and claim you for its own, we are a different breed now. We have been irrevocably changed by the experience.
I would put forth the idea that we are needed, now, more than ever, by our brothers and sisters in arms, by our families and friends, our neighbors, and indeed, by our nation. Our work, having left the active-duty military behind us, has only just begun.
You have left the military, but you brought your spear home with you.
We are experts in contingencies and crises. Few civilians are as well trained in responding to crisis situations as the least of us. And we’ve trained for all sorts of contingencies.
We need to be fully engaged in looking after our own, as clearly, no one else will.
We need to be role models, for all who know us, in being prepared for unfortunate events, whether natural or man-made, and pass on that knowledge to all who are willing to learn.
We need to be the Centurions, here at home, setting the example, and getting our nation back on track, one person at a time. Be self-reliant, and pass that strength on to your friends and family. Teach them to be prepared, mentally, physically, and materially, for whatever might come our way. Reach out to Veterans in your community. Get to know them. Reach out to people you served with, and check in.
Make sure they’re ok and let them know how you are. One phone call, text, or email can be that thing that gets them through the next moment, rather than becoming another casualty at home.
Understand that there’s nothing “wrong” with you, you are exactly who and how you should be, for what your life experience has been, and learn to leave the past in the past. It’s the past. Who and what you are today, or tomorrow, is completely up to you. The future is yours to shape. You will not get where you want to be without effort, and especially not without physical and mental discipline. That’s easy! We’ve learned discipline from the best. Just have to get back on track, one small step at a time. And you have over 22,000,000 brothers and sisters that will help you, in any way they can.
Stand up. You may not be able to do some of the things you were able to do when you were a kid. There are a great many things you can do now, that you never dreamed of being able to do then. Rise up on your hind legs, and get at it. If you can’t affect yourself in a positive way today, have a positive effect on someone else today. Take some small step forward, every single day. Do it for yourself, your brothers and sisters, your family, and your nation. Rome was not built in one day. Neither will your success, or the success of our Constitutional Republic. Get through the next second, the next hour, and the next day.
Make a plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect, at all. Murphy will make sure it doesn’t survive intact. That doesn’t matter. Make a plan, and move out. If you have no idea, ask another vet. It doesn’t have to be all-encompassing, it just has to get you moving in a positive direction. And help others do the same.
The other day, I read this, and it struck home, hard.
Better to be a Warrior in the garden, than a gardener at war.”
Lead from the front. It’s what we were all trained to do. Your mind is your spear. Keep it honed, sharp, and ready. And train others…
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on January 6, 2017.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.