I've been back for about 5 months now and a lot of the guys I deployed with are beginning to have that five month I want to pull my guts out feeling. They have been asking me a lot about how I deal/get by on a day to day basis. I guess they think I know some magical secret because I've gone and come back so much.
Well first let's dive deeper into what I'm talking about. For many of you who have deployed know the time frame of redeployment I speak of. It's about five months after returning to home station. When you redeploy you are full of wonderful feelings. You are surrounded by friends, Family, Friends family, and everybody in-between. Words like "hero" are used .They shower you with affection and you feel like this is the greatest time in your life. That warm bath feeling on a cold day, a first embrace of a love and Holding your newborn all wrapped into one. Euphoric.
Month's role by. The combat stress of returning home has begun to set in. You start getting the feeling like somebody threw a toaster in your warm bath; your love is cheating, and your newborn just shit in your cereal. The walls close in and the silence and calm becomes so evident that it claws at your soul. You get angry and agitated for no reason. This.....is.....bad.
The worst situations come at his time. It can be triggered by just about anything, and nothing. As poignant as infidelity of your spouse while you were gone or as small as forgetting where you left your keys. Anger turns to rage, rage to violence or the worst case scenario........Suicide. You start to wonder if you are only comfortable when people are trying to kill you.
The real problem is that you now have time to think. You go over all the good and bad of your deployments. Things you did or should have done. Things you did or didn't accomplish. Grief from lost friends or questions of morality in some things you may have done to others. Was I right to do what I did? The thoughts of how close you came to facing death.
So they ask me.... "Sergeant how do I make it stop?" "Sergeant what do you do?". The truth is that there is no magic cure. No pill you can take. No counselor will understand. The best thing we can do is find something to occupy our minds. Nothing will let you reach that adrenaline induced high that combat provides. You just take it one foot in front of the other. Take the dreams and nightmares one at a time. Deal with your anger and understand what it really is. It's you. Your own mind is playing tricks on you. Get away from the idea that you want to get "better". You are not sick. This is you. This is who you are from now on.
It all gets easier as you learn to cope. Don't get hung up in answers to questions that don't need to be answered or even asked. It is what it is. WAR.
Hang in there my friends, Brothers and sisters. Remember I've got your back.
- Chris LeJeune