My memories stand as a testament to those lost. A shared post from a young widow whose husband struggled with peace because of war. A quote from a friend no longer here. As I approach 30, I realize how much I have gained and how much I have lost.
I have watched as my family has dwindled away, loss after loss. I watched my best friend fight for his life for 5 years when he was given 6 months to live. I watched every day as he gave the odds his middle finger. I have lost friends in war, preparing for war, and returning from war. I have stayed up night after night talking guns out of mouths and pills out of hands. I have watched others battle the juxtaposition of war and peace, trying to find some place in this newfound world. I have watched the abuse of childhood tear away and mind and soul.
I take these calls, I stay up late, and I make the drives because I understand. I would be lying if I did not admit there was a time in my life when I wished I might find the cold hands of Death on my shoulder. I wished this not by my own hands, but in the name of a cause. There was a time when I felt as though my life had so little, so I joined the military to sacrifice it. As time passed, deployment after deployment, I survived while others did not. The struggle intensifies as one tries to make sense of a senseless world. The mind begins to obsess with, “why them and not me?” They had so much more to live for, family, friends, a wife, kids… As time passed, I reconciled my demons. I relinquished the notion of control beyond my own thoughts and actions. I found my own purpose in life. I recreated my perspectives, but I did not do this alone, so why should they, why should YOU?
I know I say it time and time again, but there is always someone who cares. There is always someone out there willing to listen. If you are reading this, you know it is true, because I am always willing to listen. I am willing to drive in the wee hours of the night if only for a shoulder to cry on, arms to embrace, or ears to listen. When you begin to feel like Atlas, and your knees begin to quiver, do not bear the weight alone, and do not quit. Raise your middle fingers and say fuck the odds, and always remember, “Pain shared is pain divided, joy shared is joy multiplied.”
You are never alone, no matter your struggle.
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.