Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Some Thoughts on Veterans (my comments in bold)

(2/4) “The 2nd Battle of Fallujah began on November 8th, 2004. The plan basically called for the entire 1st Marine Division to form a giant line and advance through Fallujah from north to south. The city was overrun with insurgents. My company commander ordered the platoon that I led to establish a forward position. Forty-six of us snuck across a highway at 3 AM to seize a building 150 meters in front of everyone else. It was a candy store. The guys were excited at first because the place was filled with chips and soda. And we were starving and thirsty. But all hell broke loose when the sun came up. RPG’s started slamming into the side of the building. We could see guys in black sneaking up all around us. My platoon sergeant was shot through the helmet and knocked unconscious. Another of our guys got shot in the femoral artery and his blood covered the floors. And we couldn’t get out. Every exit was dialed in with machine gun fire. You couldn’t even poke your head out. We were pinned down all day. And suddenly my company commander is on the radio saying that we’ve got to advance. And I’m shouting into the radio over the gunfire that we're probably going to die if we leave the store. I’m shouting so loud and for so long that I lost my voice for four days. But he’s saying that we have no choice. He’s being pressured by his commanders, all the way up to the generals. And the generals are being pressured by the White House. And all my guys are looking at me because they know if I lose that argument, we're going out there. And I lose the argument. And I tell them that we have to go. But instead of running out the door, we piled a bunch of explosives on the back wall, and we blew it out. And we ran. And everyone survived. Twenty-five guys were wounded, but everyone survived. A lot of that was luck. And a lot of that was our platoon and how good those guys were. But I also feel that my decisions mattered that day. And if I had decided not to serve, and stayed home, it could've ended much worse. So no, I don't have any regrets about going to Iraq.”
A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

I'm going to write more on veterans, how we're treated in the world and the veteran-civilian divide, but let me comment on this first. Here we have something of what I expect from the world when a person says something about the war. Below are some of the comments:

  • monztulcey@rachel.ical read this one
  • k_g_r7You are a brave man, thank you for defending and protecting our country.
  • czy_1Courage. Wisdom. Ingenuity. And then some.
  • zahra.siddiquia@kevin_oconnor2095 What absolute rubbish. Your ignorance is overwhelming, Kevin. If you understand what it means to defend your people, surely you'd understand what it means to the Iraqi people to defend themselves against invaders who have destroyed their country. Surely, you can't be so blinded by your ignorance to realise what you're actually saying.
  • dannymack12@dick_chevy13 @mikep1210
  • ro_jo95This is awesome. True American hero @maryhelenjones
  • lailygulWow a very different perspective I've never come across before thank you for sharing your story
  • erikaoakvik@courtney_mjohn - we can never thank our servicemen and women enough.
  • virginiavk@anthony_minor Interesting, so why not go and give this dictator a hand at murdering people? :/ That's not even the real reason behind that war, just a false pretext: there were true genocides happening in Rwanda and the Balkans, and I don't recall the US intervention... Guess there was no interest at all to play superhero in those cases. Tell me how Iraq's situation has improved after that? I would not have taken the time to reply if you (as many others) simply defended war as mechanism to solve a conflict, but to imply this was a humanitarian intervention?!? You make me laugh... US has only a slight idea of what war really is because of their veterans, but the society in general is completely clueless: you have not seen war for centuries. You just have this tendency of going to other countries and create chaos, which is why many talk about war as if they were playing a video game: you have not seen your entire town tear to pieces, your family dead, you're whole live interrupted. I don't deny that some probably think they are doing the right thing, but how many ISIS do we need to create before realizing that societies also need to follow their natural course of evolution? That you can not impose change nor your values through force?
  • kellie.sanfordThank you thank you! You are a hero and so much more!
  • samar_zwaylifThese posts will bring a lot of negative feelings to a lot of people, these wars are stil fresh and their consequences experienced by many all around the world.. Soldiers and civilians.. Don't think it's a good idea to remind anyone of them now :/ as an iraqi who was a kid during that war i don't hate this man or any other soldier that was following orders but i can't bring myself to accept the 'regret' comment either.
  • peteramahonyIts certainly true that socioeconomic status, education, etc in America is unfair, but that's not the point you should take away from this and not a reason to give him a hard time. If you reeally want to convince yourself that those people who have had the luxury of a higher education are equally as likely to make good decisions when there are lives on the line... as somebody uneducated... well... Thats just a bit dense. I think he's just stating fact. (This is also coming from somebody without a college education).
  • georgemm90@b_b_03
  • mommacantlinThank you for your service. Thank you for your perspective. But I am scared there are 2 more posts to come..
  • hakadhHero complex ..?
  • etemi@worstmomri Totally agree. I thought it was just me. Hoping next segment disproves this impression.
  • auntiedru623Thank you for your story and most of all thank you for your service!!!!
  • niamhquilty@rebeccadooley7
  • katiesjourneytoabetterlife@alittlemeg I don't think you make those "who have been raised to hate and kill for not other reason than that's what they were taught" see the error of their ways by waging war on their country. Neither Afghanistan not Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. And both countries have been suffering for over a decade now. Completely unstable. That has also something to do with the hatred some people there feel towards the Western countries. There are no easy solutions, but I do think we have to go at it from more different perspectives than just a military one. In my view that only increases hatred, because if you're suffering, if you've lost family members, friends, your home, a safe place to live, some people need to put the blame on somebody and I believe the wars in the Middle East have rather increased extremism and done quite the opposite of wanting to make the world a safer place.
  • remoteviewerwpa@elliotdaljungberg as my brother often says, i don't know sh*t about being in the army, but is there a difference between seizing a building and hanging out in it eating candy/drinking soda while an enemy squad sneaks up on you? it just sounds like an erroneous disadvantage. πŸ€—
  • dollybug1024Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for your service!
  • ticialaHoly shit
  • misty.maqFinally, a story with honor and integrity
  • amordepadres_9701⭐πŸ’œπŸ™
  • wolfepack59Amazing story. Thank you for your service.
  • jc3nation44@tyler_bonick @trump_likes_nickleback
  • auntiedru623@samar_zwaylif with all due respect, you have no reason to "accept" his view point or not. He doesn't regret serving his country, following orders, or being able to get his fellow soldiers out of a deadly situation. And he has no reason to regret it. He served with courage and honor in spite of the circumstances surrounding the war and that's all we can ask of our military. Peace to you and yours!
  • emmystarkExcellent. Thank you!
  • philalbanThis man is a man who should be thanked for his service. Glad he was resourceful enough to follow orders *and* save his boys.
  • bri_like_the_chz@katelyntoo this story 😱
  • kevin_oconnor2095@zahra.siddiquia I've been there. I know what happens over there. I've seen it first hand. Don't tell me everyone is innocent. I have plenty of friends who have selflessly gave their lives. Friends who aren't ever coming back.
  • katiesjourneytoabetterlife@kait_marie_13 But also consider what the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and all the shit happening in the Middle East have done to enable something like ISIS. I strongly believe that the increase in extremism has a lot to do with the unstable situations in these countries which have been suffering for more than a decade now. Imagine living in a destabilised country like that. Imagine growinh up and knowing nothing else. Waging wars in these countries was absolutely wrong in my opinion. This is not the fault of this individual soldier or your fiancΓ©. Though I do think a society as a whole plays a role and can influence their politicians to make better choices. We as people in general need to do better. Be better. Help those who are suffering and are underpriviledged. I know that this won't stop the fanatists who use impressionable people to commit their terrorist attacks, because they are ultimately only interested in gaining power. But if you wage war on the country they live in, destabilsing it, accepting the death of civilians as unfortunate, but unavoidable casualites... in my view this can only make matters worse rather than help.
  • marquisa99That was amazing and heartbreaking!!!!
  • kclrparisYour leadership and courage made a difference
  • youngalwaysyogiThank You πŸ˜¨πŸ™πŸΌπŸ˜”πŸ˜°
  • gemmacaglioti@paolocaglioti
  • 0h.autumnn@markthepinoy
  • samar_zwaylif@auntiedru623 see that's the point ma'am, serving his country destroyed mine.
  • mister_perfect243Smh! You killed innocent people and you do not regret? You must be very evil then.
  • tommy_lounsburyHero

  • Though you may want to disagree, this is essentially a good summation of the comments that I've seen about veterans in general. Ranging from hagiographic to ultimately hateful. The former one seems to stem from a knee jerk acceptance of both the actions of the veteran and the war, while the latter seems to also conflate the acceptance of veterans with the war (and thus it tries to reject both the love of veterans  and the war at the same time). It's such odd reactions (rather than trying to treat each veteran as humans) that annoys me. Not to place the blame squarely on the civilians. A quick look at my Facebook stream will show that plenty of my fellow veterans are warmongers, to put it lightly. And to put it less lightly, many are ignorant of the global picture of geopolitics and their role in it. Hard, then, not to blame them some, isn't it (but again, individually)? And when some civilians do reach out, there's a common trope of veterans lashing out and saying that civilians should not judge. Right. Again, plenty of people to blame on both sides, but I get somewhat cynical when I read such comments and how all too easily they reflect the broader consensus on veterans.

  • Note, that I'm saying that veterans are humans, fellow citizens, and should be treated like that. Even the whole bit about saying :Thank you for your service" doesn't ring true (though it's better than being harassed) to any veteran I've talked to and they would rather have a real conversation than deal with blind thank you's (or blind blaming for being tools for imperial actions). Those may be true, but one cannot assume that. As for the former matter, the thank you's, I'm pretty aware that they don't amount to much. It won't help you get a job, as the person who says that only says it as a social bonafide and may still think a veteran is some PTSD harboring maniac (most likely true of both groups). 

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