The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


July 07, 2008

Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 7/7/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: c/o

So we sit, in the middle of New Jersey.

I listen to everything that happens around me.

I have Dead Kennedys and One Republic, Cicero.

I have something in my life.

There’s something in combat that you lose.

You look at the flowers, the literature. You look at your life.

There are things that you see that no one else can find.

You grow old, you grow tired. You find happiness. You call in an air strike.

You watch as somebody grows upon you. You just wanted her to know how you felt.

You’re tired of feeling like some used up bag of war. I am ready to stop and come home.

I get tired of telling her that she’s nothing but beautiful.

But you’re old, you’re tired, you’re beat up.

Yet you don’t remember what it was like not to drink a bottle of vodka and make excuses for your country.

You sit there and just say I’m sorry. How do you sit there and say I drank too much and believed too much? Because that’s what I did.

How do you sit there and say this shouldn’t have happened, but I did them? Part of my life that I can’t explain.

That’s it.

That’s what you’ve got. I’m sorry I blew up this village or shot down these people. It is what it is, right?

You come home on a C-130 to nothing.

To you, to this imaginary life. To a woman who loves me to no end.

I have music and I have art.

Everything stops when I get off that aircraft. And here I am, still missing everything. It’s never fair though.

It’s not fair to say what we want to say and do what we want to do because it just never is.

Last night I got to hang out with good friends, and tonight here I am, ready to argue again. If I have to do this, then they’re the ones missing out.

Sometimes I wonder if I gave up everything. I’m so pissed off. Find war is such a simple matter.

I’m not sure it’s that anymore. But what about my beach? My Ocean Grove? Having wine with my future wife?

What about the things that I care about?

What about the things that I gave up?

What happened to the things that I cared about?

What about the drafting table, Osaka, Piancone's?

Where is my rose that I left so long ago?

I sit here and sometimes wonder those things because I have a house and I have a family.

I have shot and killed, and the worst part is that my family thinks I’m a drunk. They think I’m a failure.

Sometimes I think if my new family thinks that too?

What do you do? How do you suffer? I’ve seen life. I’ve tasted art. Will we find our own way? I just don’t know how to do it anymore.

I’m tired.

So I write this, I sit here on my living room floor, my future wife typing as my German Shepherd sits with us.

But I can’t explain shit. Here I am, tired, worn down, beaten down. But I love my country. I love my ocean.

How do you explain what you have given up for 11 years?

How do you explain what you’ve given up for everyone else for 11 years.

I miss the times, I miss the art. I miss the humming in my life.

I’m tired of people shooting at me. That’s what it is.

I get to sit on my floor, drinking a beer.

I’ve got 48 hours left until I go back and I’ve got no excuses.

But I have rosemary wine, I have salty wind.

These are the things that people dream of. I have books that people imagine having.

And I have a fiancée that no matter what, I will jump out of a helicopter for. I will do anything for her because I can’t do anything about the war. So it's back to war then back to my real job.


We're all getting chewed up by history. World leaders set chains of events in place that we participate in, but can't control. None of us know how it's going to come out in the wash. All you can do is remember that there are people that you love, and try to do the right thing, whatver that is, and maybe try to believe the whole world is your country, that you're at home wherever you go...It's just that some parts need more work... I doubt your people think you're a failure. They may think you drink too much, and they may not understand why, but the ones that love you will know you've been pushed too hard. They may have a hard time dealing with you, but they know you're doing all you can.

Some of the best I have read about how you aren't here or there and want to be somewhere, safe. Take care out there and hang on to all that is true. I did notice you didn't tell us anything about the Presidential Race - so you are still sane. Thanks for being there.

There's a Buddhist saying that most of my friends find very dispiriting...
but I've always found it oddly comforting -

"This is what's happening. It cannot be otherwise."

When all the other answers to the despairing question "WHY?" are washed away through the sewer of time and politics and violence, that's the one answer that is never swept away, never gives an inch, is always TRUE.
For what it's worth...
Love and Best Wishes.

I urge you to seek some help. Please.

Do what you need to do for the moment. You are supported by loving energy from so many in this country for doing what at the time our country thought needed to be done. Look to Naikan and Morita therapy at ToDo site. Focus on the things you are grateful for. Let peace find you. Thanks for your service to all of us!

Well put.

Don't worry about what others think or even what you think. You are stressed beyond measure, fatigued to your bones, and the why's & wherefore's are not there. This is like the flu, you just keep plodding through it & come out the other side. Part of what you feel is physical, but your ability to put it into clear words shows that your non-physical self is still there. Alcohol can help in the short run (very short run) but ultimately interfers with physical & emotional rebuilding. Try cutting back, even a little bit. Replace it with something else - salt water taffy? :-) Seriously, be a little kinder to your body; it deserves it and so do you!

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