Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Combat Stress

December 30, 2003

I went to cover a combat stress class early this morning. It focused on anger management and a few of the soldiers were uncomfortable with me taping it so I just sat down and listened to a lot of their stories. These soldiers have been here for a long time and obviously they snapped or something because the class is mandatory for them. Their uniforms are much dirtier than mine, and I felt so sorry listening to their stories. I can see how living this way wears on a person after a year, and it was very clear to me that for these people, it is becoming too much. During breakfast, I found out that a soldier on our base killed himself during the night. From my perspective, a lot of soldiers don't like to complain or talk to people when they are feeling alone or sad or weak. We are taught as early as basic training to be tough no matter what –“suck it up soldier” is what they say. So, whether you are a talker or not, you suck it up and drive on. You continue with the mission and you deal with it on your own. There are counselors set up but the stigma attached to it keeps people away. It's really sad because that mentality may have killed that boy.Most soldiers don't want to be pitied because we signed up for this job willingly. Although everyone is proud, we are also scared and tired and we miss our friends and family. Point is, after a while the meter starts to run low. In spreading our wings and experiencing something new, we sacrifice other parts of our lives. I am seeing the toll it is taking - on the soldiers in that class this morning, on the kid who took his life last night, and on me and my team eventually. I am only at the beginning. I guess that is why I write so often to all of you - so that I don't let it get the best of me eventually...and so I have an outlet that has nothing to do with the military. I am learning something new every day. I don't think I was supposed to tape that class this morning because by not taping it, I learned a lot more. Now hopefully, I can be a friend to someone and less people will think they have nowhere to turn.

With Love,Addie


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