I hoped all my reservations would melt away as I donned the dusty uniform. I hoped that my every hesitation was nothing more than the obsessive dwellings on negativity I had found myself in for all those years. I hoped that my memories had been altered by that same lens. The reality came crashing down only moments after it was finally over.
I have donned the dusty uniform. I have kicked the dirt of my boots. I have refreshed my memory. I have tried to view through a new perspective of positivity. I have tried to assume my reservations were far from reality. Affirmation of all my reservations has come time after time. It came the moment it was finally over. It came in the weeks spent refreshing and retraining. It came only days on the streets. It came again only days after that.
When I finally sat and reflected upon my first rotation back, it only reaffirmed everything I feared. I reaffirmed every frustration and irritation I hoped was nothing more than the obsessive dwellings in darkest moments of my life. I was once a silent professional. I was nothing but a name never forgotten because it was never known. My name was nothing to anyone. What I did was not mine but ours.
Now, in this world, I have so desperately fought for the impossible. I have fought to be a name never known, a futile pursuit. Instead, “Ranger” instantly placed a spotlight upon my every action and inaction. “Ranger” placed a target on my back for so many. Now, my name has been plastered all over. My hope for a silent return, after all these years, as a forgotten nobody, failed before I even began.
All I can do now is bide my time until it can all be over. Until I might once again be a name never forgotten because it was never known.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
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.