REDEPLOYMENT AND TRANSITION |
March 27, 2011
Name: Major Dan
Returned from: Afghanistan
REDEPLOYMENT. That's the odd name our military uses these days for returning from deployment. So despite whatever logical tendency you may have to assume that it would mean "deploying again" or "returning to deployment", now you know it means coming back from one. That's what I've now done, or am still doing: redeploying.
It's an abrupt change, being stateside again after most of a year away. Return from deployment tests us all in different ways. For those with their own families, there is the "reintegration" of that. For us without, there are still numerous challenges. Everyone you know is at a different point in their respective lives now. You've changed and they've changed, and as much as you may strive to find an immediate "normal," there is none.
It has rained in Jacksonville, NC, for three days straight, and at some point during most of the others as well. It's a drastic change from experiencing rain maybe three days in all of eight months, and only briefly at that.
I check my hip constantly for my weapon. We all do. It's weird how many times you have to process the realization that it's not there -- you turned it in, dude.
I'm incredibly anxious, to what's probably an unhealthy extent, about what's next. My pattern for a few years now has been one of chucking aside the uniform for awhile, only to grow restless and return to the one known commodity: that of going to fill an open job somewhere, one that ostensibly requires my skill sets and experience. I've been offered a few already, and haven't even finished the mandatory outprocessing from this one. Wish me luck as I seek to buck that trend for once.
Some seem to anchor themselves quite easily to what's consistent or stable in their lives. Some might be free of past associations, but set about going after their goals in a straightforward manner. And some return to their struggles. I belong to that category -- of those who turn inward and don't find clear goals, who overthink just about everything, who find themselves dwelling too often on things out of our control, and consequently, who wonder just where we are supposed to fit in.
I hope I can purely enjoy life for awhile, and shake off this philosopher's lament. It comes saddled with too much attachment, too much fantasy, and often, too much heartbreak. Although I yearned every single day for all that I couldn't enjoy while deployed, there is a sudden unhappiness in being back and realizing that some things are not as you remembered, or would like them to be. I think every day about the latest struggles my team is facing, and about those whose deployment is infinitely more dangerous than mine ever was. And I have enough difficulty taking my mind off all the possible tasks to tackle without constantly being asked what I'm doing next. I know most people mean well, but please -- cut a recent veteran a break!
Now the hard work begins. For whatever reason, it is far more daunting to me to establish some sort of 'normal' life than it is to log 18-hour days for eight months straight in Afghanistan, working my tail off to try and build a government ministry and new army's capacity. That is my next thing, I think, to create stability where I've known none. And to ignore the teasing temptation to simply be irresponsible for awhile, which works counter to that. In the frequent, more depressed moments, I see myself as a homeless, jobless, car-less, even ski-less (in Colorado!) single veteran who still somehow is saddled with too much accumulated stuff. It's as if the last ten months were an odd dream, and I'm back trying to figure out life in the place to which I up and moved just a few months before that.
I didn't plan on a segue from my Afghan chronicles to the personal lamentation of a restless, anxiety-hounded Nowhere Man who is searching for the motivation to do even some of the most basic things. But it seems that I'm doing it anyway. Bear with me. I still plan to post "lost chapters" of this deployment (hopefully in time to keep the attention of some loyal readers, anyway). And your honest feedback is always welcome.