Monthly Archives: February 2012

She loves me, she loves me not

I apologize for my previous post, the hardships of my way of life sometimes catch up to me and out comes the negative emotions. I am human after all.

I am switching gears a bit and this post will be dealing with relationships in the military, I will continue my previous story at a later date. Enjoy

Films have changed the perspective of military relationships for many people. This is written to shed light on my truth versus what is portrayed in various form of media.  Many people expect a fairy tale story but in the end the odds stack up and pain is the result.

In my time I have seen more negative results from relationships than positive. Many people join the military with the hopes that their relationships turns out to be something straight out of the movie Dear John, and although the film romanticizes a military relationship I have rarely seen it happen that way. We get off the bus with a vague idea of what will happen to us once we stop. I believe that a relationship is beneficial to the military way of life just because a person can only accomplish so much by themselves before they need support.

I have read many papers on emotional resilience and I’ve always wondered how our(meaning military personnel) experiences have altered our emotional state in relationships. Do we choose not to go back to our pre-military state of mind or are we just changed forever. My understanding about the papers I’ve read is that the general consensus is that a person chooses not to go back. But I now pose this question to my audience; What if I have seen many of my friends die?  The emotional burden that this carries is enormous, but is a person choosing to not change dramatically and alter their mindset in a relationship, or is this something that is uncontrollable?

Even in Basic Combat Training where we(future soldiers) were pretty safe(meaning no combat) the amount of “Dear John/Jane” letters that were received was mind boggling.  I might be able to forgive someone that ends a relationship when their significant other is gone for over a year, but when a person is across the country for nine weeks is the emotional burden is too great? I am glad that I was never in a position to have this happened to me but many of my comrades were not so lucky. There we were going as far as our mind and body would take us and at the end of the day a single letter could cause more damage than a Drill Sergeant ever could. I can remember people punching lockers and even crying, it was a sad sight to see. Maybe I figured that if we were doing a good thing for a country people would realize this and who knows maybe emotionally support the decision. It is not uncommon to hear stories of people deploying and returning home to an empty house and empty bank account. This actually happened to a coworker of mine, he arrived from the Middle East to nothing.

Although the amount of negative stories that I have heard is much greater than positive ones military relationships do work for some people. I was actually at the barber shop on base today and one of the ladies cutting hair said this, “Hold them and cherish them as much as you can while they are here, and when they deploy never give up the hope and love that is there”. Many spouses are not able to adapt to the military way of life and that might actually be the biggest cause of failed relationships. That is not to say that an individual unit doesn’t have a big impact on a relationship. It depends on how your unit is, but many want to micromanage your personal life, and I would assume that most adults have no desire to have a stranger constantly bothering them. I believe that leadership in a unit can make or break a relationship depending on how they choose to lead soldiers. Leaders with compassion might suggest counseling or even give you personal time during the day to take care of business. If something isn’t right at home a soldier isn’t going to concentrate like they should be at work.

In the end I believe that the negative connotation attached to military relationships makes it difficult to find a true companion but it is not an impossible task. As long as we are here we will be constantly in search of happiness no matter where the path might lead us to.

Part Trois

This is a continuation of my journey, enjoy.

Over the next nine weeks the bay we were assigned to would become our new home. Everybody had a bunk-mate, this bunk-mate or as the Army calls it battle buddy, and the purpose of this would be to help each other out. Your battle buddy would be the person who would help you get through the rough patches of training. If your battle buddy was wrong, you were wrong, because you did not help them enough. I remember when my battle and I were going up to our bay to get ready, when suddenly all we heard was Get the fuck down now We had no idea what we had done wrong. After doing push-ups for a while we were allowed to get up, at the time we were very angry because we had no idea why we had gotten in trouble. I can now call him and laugh about moments like that because we experienced things that most people don’t get to go through together. Imagine that, a complete stranger had just became a friend for life. I remember knowing that we had an inspection early the next morning and my locker wasn’t up to standard, my battle buddy stayed up with me all night to help me fold my clothes correctly, it is in the face of adversity that somebody’s true character shows itself.  Whenever he had problems I helped and he did the same for me.

The first four weeks or so we had to eat mermites(food that arrives in big plastic containers, that is usually cooked for people out in the field). The food was horrible, we had the same menu and portions every day. Our entire unit had to stand in line silently and move like a mechanized force. A person was not allowed to talk or look around, chow time was not a social event, you ate as fast as you could and went on with training. Even today, almost two years later it is very difficult to take my time and eat, I am prime example of how rhetoric was used on me to make me believe that is the way to eat. A person must first be broken down before they can start following the military way of life. Sleep deprivation helps and so does physical activities, at the time we started everything seemed chaotic and unorganized, but now I can begin to understand the complexity of their system.

Everybody starts off at RED Phase, which basically means that you are not even human. If one person does something incorrectly, everybody is responsible for it, even if you were doing the correct thing. This is a way to single out people very quickly because nobody likes to get punished for somebody else’s mistakes. I actually came back to touch on this sentence. Most people think that when somebody is singled out, a scene from the movie Full Metal Jacket comes to mind, and I am here to burst people’s bubble because it doesn’t exactly happen that way. Although in some places things like that do occur, if you base your opinions off of a movie you are wrong from the start, the military isn’t exactly picture perfect. In fact I believe that it is within this phase that people grow closer to each other. It is through somebody’s mistake that we must create a solution to fix the problem. The Victory Tower obstacle course was put in this phase for a reason. I ask y’all this, what sane person would trust a complete stranger to help you repel down a tower? A person must learn to trust their peers in order to succeed. Many people aren’t aware that they are afraid of heights until they are standing sixty feet in the air. Call me crazy but trusting a rope isn’t exactly comforting. But their is a method to the military’s madness. We learn to trust each other and sure enough, we all jumped off the tower with virtually no problems. And the brainwashing had just began…