Before getting into the weeds, I want lead of with some personal info. For those that follow my personal Facebook page, you know that recently I clocked a 182/100 BP, which landed me on some meds to bring that bad boy down. It is what it is, I knew it was going to happen at some point. The reason I bring that up is the whole stress thing. I have been crazy stressed lately thinking about retirement, which led to this reflection on chaotic battle lessons and what they good for.
What in the World is Chaotic Battle Lessons?
Simple, hard earned lessons learned that will never be forgotten, forged from battle. But why bring this up, as it means nothing right now? Which is exactly the point. Nearing retirement, it’s time to take a good hard look at my worth and why a company should want to hire me. When it comes down to it, are the businesses in this small town in Tennessee going to care that I went to Sergeants Course, or Advanced Machine Gun Leaders, or even the one that taught me how to draw SDZ’s? Likely not.
Maybe if I was job hunting at Camp Lejeune, or attempting to snatch up a GS job anywhere on a military installation, but I’m not. I’m ready for the small town, getting to know everyone, bad ass drama that I am about to pursue on. If I wasn’t, I would just re-enlist again. I want to write books about my life, share my stories, make people excited about turning the next page. I can’t do that working with a big time corporation doing the big guys work.
So what is my worth then?
I have spent years of my life fighting against a nemesis. I fought against the Insurgency in parts of Iraq with names like Karmah, Fallujah, and Ramadi. Battled against the Taliban in Marjah Afghanistan. Witnessed the threat firsthand and up close from a fundamentalist group calling themselves Al-Shabaab in Eastern Africa. Lessons forged from this chaotic lifestyle have came in surplus.
I know to look through a window of a Humvee before opening my door and closing it immediately upon exiting for the fear of an RPG hitting those who remain inside.
I always check for low hanging power lines, as I have seen one make a heavy machine gun disappear from the top of a truck, while also knowing the impact this has on a human body.
I can tell the different types of weapons being fired at you, while also knowing the sound of a sniper rifle taking his one well aimed shot.
I can quickly direct violent action on a known enemy position, while controlling air assets and returning fire.
I have spotted more IED’s on the side of the road than I care to tell. I also know the feeling of not spotting them, the sound of the explosions still remain inside my head.
I have witnessed a grown man urinate in the dark, only to find out that he is standing over a live bomb that could go off at any minute.
I know the fear of unknowing, and the unknowing of fear.
These are just a handful of the skills that we have learned from traveling abroad, but my fear remains. What good can I do to society? Those are the skills that linger the most within my soul, that will never expunge. This is a constant fear that remains with veterans, especially those not gaining skills that relate. I am a Marine Corps Machine Gunner, through and through. Even as I evolve in leadership, I still will always be that young, 20 year old machine gunner from upstate New York ready to take on a fight.
This doesn’t do us much good in the real world though, as not many corporations are looking for a machine gunner with experience in killing fire.
For me personally, I have had the opportunity to gain certain attributes like being Green Belt Certified in Lean Six Sigma, and have pursued educational goals. I gone after and acquired my B.A. in Terrorism Studies, One class away from my M.S. In Organizational Leadership, pursuing PMP and other certificates, but still remain scared.
Maybe I can’t settle down, lean into this new lifestyle I dream of so much. I love deploying, so much. In my article for The War Horse, I talked about some of those challenges and how they tear you apart. What if after five years, I am mentally a mess because I can no longer chase that adrenaline spike.
All warriors will tell you, war fighting is something that doesn’t go away, always showing up in your mental state when least expecting it. This is why I started the American Terrorist series, I had to start getting thoughts on paper. That led to all of this, reflections and stories.
The dread remains, going from warrior to employee. From leader of Marines to the small town guy. Can the change be made, or is this the type of change that challenges so many before. Once your gone, there is no turning back. Once the battle cry is sounded, there’s no war wagon to climb aboard as it pulls through your town. All that I can think to say is, Sheath that sword, Love thy family, and Tell your story warrior.
I truly believe it will get better though, that my nervous actions right now will soon be calmed by something greater. I believe that this is a phase, but I can’t help but wonder if this feeling is what drives some people over that edge. That fear, the unknowing, the never being able to serve in that capacity again kind of feeling. I wish this on no one, but know that all go through it. I’ll be fine, I could use a few years working at the convenience store down the road. A little bit of “less stress” would do anyone some good.
“I wonder if the Health & Rehabilitation Center down the road is hiring, might need to give the Fam a call”
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For those that have comments, suggestions, or transitioning advice for our readers, please please please comment below so they can see what you have to say after they read this article. You never know what your comment could do for someone else.