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Member since: Wed Aug 15, 2012, 02:17 PM
Number of posts: 2,590

About Me

I grew up hardcore Republican and conservative (although I never agreed with the religious portion of the party) and I even voted for Bush in 2000. (However, by 2004 I realized that was a mistake) I joined the Army in 1997, when I was 17 years old and my parents had to sign a waiver to get me in that young. I later went to college, obtained a degree in chemistry, and received a commission in the US Army where I served as an Infantry Officer from May 2002 until I was discharged in October 2007. While I was in the Army, I would consider myself your typical hardcore junior officer. I spent some time in Ranger School, did the typical stint at Airborne School, and I even had grandiose dreams giving it a shot at Special Forces selection. However, I deployed to Iraq as an Infantry Platoon Leader from Feb 2004 through Mar 2005. Seeing and being involved in combat as intimately as an Infantryman does really shook up a lot of my core beliefs. I could write an essay on this, but in short I now lean hard to the left with much of my political views.

Journal Archives

Something similar happened to me, but I went the other way

I voted Bush in 2000 when I was 20 years old. In 2004 I found myself in Iraq serving in the Army as an Infantry Platoon Leader and I was involved in a lot of violence over there (they don't put Infantry units in nice places). I did 13 months over there and it sure changed a lot of my mind. I went from moderate right (I agreed with most stances of the Republicans minus their religious baggage) to hard left on my thinking. The violence of war had (and continues to have) a profound impact on my beliefs. Instead of turning into a hardened killer like Rambo, I gained more of a "live and let live" attitude in life. I think the violence of combat, killing people, and losing Soldiers under my command made me a much kinder and understanding person. Maybe your family member had similar upsetting things happen to them and they just happened to turn to the rights on their beliefs?

I don't know. It's just a theory. War is very traumatic and definitely unsettled a lot of my core beliefs and I could understand it happening to someone else (even if they went the other way on their beliefs).

Yeah, you don't want to talk to a veteran of the recent wars about living conditions

I can't speak for Afghanistan, but even in 2004 in Iraq our living conditions on our FOBs were plush. We had electricity, airconditioning, satelite TV, internet access, beds with real matresses, and some awesome food. Haliburton may have been overcharging the government for the meals it provided, but the food was amazing. It was at least as good as standard garison chow that we were eating in the US or in Germany. In fact, I gained a lot of weight while I was deployed. All I did was eat, lift weights (and take lots of steroids), and go on patrol. Also, other than one issue with track pads for my Bradley Fighting Vehicles, I never had a problem with shortages of any kind as far as equipment, ammuniiton, etc went.

The Army really did a good job taking care of us. However, I guess you can do that when you're fighting the second most expensive war(s) in American history after WWII (when you adjust for inflation). Too bad that money couldn't be spent on something like healthcare or education instead. At least we'd have something to show for it other than a bunch of broken veterans like me.

Glad to hear that you are seeking help

I did a year in Iraq in 2004 and when I got back, I made it about a month before my wife made me see a psychologist. Many of the symptoms either went away or became easy to deal with them. I managed to get myself into a cushy job at Range Control in Grafenwoehr, Germany and I stayed there until I got out of the Army in October 2007.

Things started to get really bad for me when I got out of the Army. Being around Soldiers really helped me out a lot. I don't want to scare you, but don't plan on just getting out of the Army and it being easy. As much as some of the Army sucks, it's even worse when you get out and have to deal with the civilian world. Being around the Army and Soldiers really was a huge comfort for me.

Almost everything you mentioned sounded like me spot on - especially the forgetful part. I even get to points where I feel like I'm drunk and I know I haven't been drinking. I talk really slow, slurr my words, I can't move or walk fast, and my peripheral vision closes in and I feel like I'm looking at the world through a straw. Things like that come and go, but the one thing that constantly irritates me is my right hand just feels so out of place. Whenever I'm walking outside or in a large public place my hand just feels like it needs to be on the pistol grip of my M4.

Driving is an adventure. I find that I'm alrigt if someone is in front of me, but trying to focus on obeying the speed limit and staying in the right lane when nobody is in front of me sometimes is hard. I also sometimes forget that I'm stopped at a stop sign. It's kind of funny in a way. I get honked at all the time.

I have a lot of issues with relationships. My marriage is crap and sometimes I have a very hard time interacting with my two daughters (they are 2 and 4 years old). I get a lot of flashbacks (they usually last for a couple of seconds, but they really scare the crap out of me) and I have a lot of what they call "intrusive thougts". Even though the war was about 8 years ago for me, it is alive and stong in my head. Fortunately I'm not a violent person and when I get angry I close up, get really quiet, and never lash out. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have commited some sort of domestic violence (which obviously is never alright under any circumstances).

The most emberassing part is I'm a total emotional wreck. Things make me cry all the time and I can't control it. Like watching kid's cartoons with my daughter. Geeze. So much for turning into a hardened killer like Rambo after my combat experiences.

I've been diagnosed with PTSD and I've been receiving treatment from the VA since 2008. I've had a lot of issues with my previous job (I got out of the Army and managed to get a job working as a production manager for Amazon.com). I freaked out at work really bad and they suspended me for 5-6 weeks and then gave me a second chance. A few months later I freaked out again and I became unemployed. Now I work for the Federal Government and things are a lot better. I'm a chemist and my work is very slow paced and almost stress free. my boss an coworkers know that I'm a "crazy vet" and they are patient and are willing to pick up the slack when I can't. The head HR guy was an Infantryman in Vietnam (I was an Infantryman in Iraq) and he helps me out a lot too and keeps me out of trouble. I'm very lucky to be where I am. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd be given a 100% disability rating from the VA and living off of Social Security Disability.

Anyways, be sure to check in with your local VA hospital when you get out. The VA has been a tremendous help to me and they really do care.

Also, if you have a mental health specific issue and you want to talk to other veterans, check out http://vets.yuku.com. They have a pretty active forum.

Again, I'm glad that you are elready getting yourself some help. You need to stay on top of this.
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