An unwinnable war- One Marine’s story

Everyone loves a good action movie, myself included.

Taken

That was a good movie. Ex military, hunting down guys who stole his daughter, flying across the world, blowing things up and taking no prisoners. All while seemingly avoiding capture by police and any other foreign government entity.

Badass, right?

I enjoy the movie, but I like it for the subtler reasons. He’s divorced, his wife hates the fact that he put his country before his kids, even though he was always thinking of them and one exchange in the movie really resonated with me.

‘Mom says your job made you paranoid’
‘Well, my job made me aware.’

Aware, I think that was an apt way of putting it. I enjoyed the, albeit hollywood glamor version, of a man who had been to war only to come home and find that he had no real place. The action and special effects is great, the over the top hunting down his daughter was fine and the acting was good. What I really liked was the fact he had lost things because of the things he did, he had changed and his family, or at least his ex wife didn’t understand why or how.

Most movies show you one side, go to war, blow things up, be a badass. They don’t show the effect that has on a person. Taking a life, being blown up, training for the worst then actually seeing it, that is easy. Anyone who has been to war will tell you, you train and train hard, so when the time comes, you don’t have to think, you do.

But where does that leave you when you come home?

To be thrown in an environment where people are shooting at you, your friends are dying or are hurt. To be dropped in head first into this reality, a war zone. Then just as quickly, to be pulled out and plopped back into your ‘old’ life hanging out with friends and pretending like you weren’t just literally fighting for your life.

It’s not as easy as it may sound.

Hypervigilance, that is the term given to being ‘aware’ as the movie puts it, it is what a lot of vets, myself included deal with on a daily basis. You get blown up once, twice, or more more times than you can count [raises hand], and you start expecting it in certain situations. A loud noise and you find yourself on the ground, without thinking about it, which was the point of the training. Most don’t understand, at best you have no one notice, or want to notice. At worst people stare, laugh, wonder what you are on.

Explanations of military service garner things like, ‘You aren’t going to go crazy and kill us, are you?’

Anxiety runs high at all times, crowds make you nervous, people are unpredictable, erratic. That is scarier than being shot at, at least in that instance you know what is happening.

So they give you medications, to help ease the ‘fire’ that is burning in your head. To help you be ‘normal’ whatever that means. Counseling, support groups, organizations, all to help make you feel not so alone in the world.

But let’s bring this back to Taken.

It was a good movie in my opinion. I do have one small problem with it however. The same problem I have with most Hollywood movies really. They show you the action, heck sometimes even the aftermath.

But what I really want to see, or more aptly what I want people to see, is what happens after the movie ends. Because that particular war/battle/conflict may be over but there is one that will never end.

An unwinnable war, the war in your head.

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4 responses to “An unwinnable war- One Marine’s story

  1. I have PTSD too. I wasn’t in a war except the one in my home. As a child with my father and as an adult with my husband. Strange things set off my anxiety, like being in physical therapy and having the male therapist manipulate my arm and shoulder to help my torn rotator cuff. I am taking clonazepam before I go so I can let him do it!

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