YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN |
December 29, 2008
YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN
Name: CPT Beau Cleland
Posting date: 12/29/08
Stationed in: Iraq
I made it. Barring some mundane tragedy here in Kuwait, I will have survived deployment number two. A cursory review of the odds reveals that this isn't a statistically significant event, but if you're a member of the unlucky percentage you would probably disagree with that statement. I haven't been in significant danger since I left Sadr City after Mookie cried uncle back in June, but there was always the chance of a random rocket or mortar. On the whole, it still feels good -- there were a couple of episodes where my team and I could have easily been casualties, but we made it out with just one Purple Heart among us.
I thought that the last several months of being on staff (and a fobbit) would help me unwind from the tension that comes with being out on the street all the time, but by and large it hasn't. I've enjoyed the novelty of not having to wear armor or carry a weapon for the past week on this rear-echelon base in Kuwait, but I feel a great disconnect from (and not a little bitter hostility towards) the inhabitants of this place.
They get paid pretty much the same as everyone up north without sharing any of the danger. The only thing they have in common with us is being away from home and family, and I can't help but feeling superior to them, as if my comrades and I earned our gold medals in the Olympics of suffering and they got their blue participation ribbon, only to discover that the prize is the same. Sure, they probably didn't choose to be here and certainly had no say in the pay policy, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
This has made me reflect on my imminent homecoming, relative to my last one. I know a little better what to expect, but that doesn't necessarily comfort me. Will it still take me six months to stop thinking about it all the time? Will I still drink myself to sleep in that time? Probably not. I hope. I'm one of those types who thinks he has the answers, that I won't need to get any help because I know better. I've given the brief to my soldiers before, about not being afraid to go talk to someone if you are having trouble dealing with it, but I have no confidence that I'd take my own advice without some deep problems first.
Personally, I don't think most soldiers would willingly go to a counselor, out of fear of seeming weak or like a shirker. If the Army really wants to make sure no one falls through the cracks, they should probably just make it mandatory for everyone to talk with one in private during redeployment processing. It might catch a few more than the current screening system, which isn't terrible and is certainly much better than the non-existent one when this whole thing started, but there's always room for improvement. Here's to hoping I won't need their help.
Editor's note: Beau Cleland was an early contributor to this site during his 2006 deployment to Afghanistan. His post GETTING SHOT AT appeared in the Sandbox book.