BrainBust Articles

Blake Schreiber

War, Continued

Blake Schreiber

Mar 22 2016


War is easy. It’s what I was trained to do. What I wasn’t trained to do was the after -- Coming home, it’s


 surreal, almost as unknown as the country I just spent seven plus months in with the entire intention of


 killing those who would do my buddies and I harm. My family was happy, and my friends were excited to see


 me, but it felt off. The transition wasn’t exactly easy, because I didn’t really feel ready for it.




I enjoyed my time overseas: The thrill, the adrenaline. The body is capable of amazing things when your life is


 endangered. It’s almost like taking a drug. A taste of the high leads to a growing need for more. I learned


 what I was truly capable of as a person at the worst of times, in the worst of circumstances. The memories


 are engraved in my mind; the smell of the villages, the crunch of the dirt beneath my boot, the insane


 humidity in the cotton fields. It became my home for the time I was there, and I made the best of it -- no


 matter how shitty the living conditions or how fortuitous the missions. It has plenty of flaws though, those


 of which you can never prepare yourself for. I went into theater fully aware of what could happen to me --


 what could happen to my friends -- but a part of my mind never really expected it to. We’re different. We can


 make it through this, no problem. I was wrong.




War has casualties, and it wasn’t about to let our platoon skip out of the dues we owed for stepping foot into


 its territory. Some are small, superficial, never causing any long term effects on those they befall. Others,


 however, are more than any person should ever have to suffer through. All the while, watching these friends


 of mine, friends who I’ve become family with, go through such immense pain, well, it changed me. Hurt


 doesn’t do the idea justice; watching my squad leader step on an IED, watching several of my buddies get hit


 by grenades, it ripped at my soul – the very fabric of who I am. The sound of the explosions, the smell of the


 blood, it fucks with the human psyche on a level that is unparalleled in life. Also, watching the people I


 considered to be rocks begin to crack and break weighed heavily on me.




My first team leader was a good Marine. I was no longer under him, but had he asked me to follow him to the


 gates of Hell, I would have, because of the respect and faith I had in him. Watching him cry the night one of


 our Marines was killed hit me hard, and changed me. Realizing that the people I looked up to are just as


 human as I am was a sobering feeling. There’s no time to dwell on such matters though; the men who


 caused my family harm were still out there, and by God the rest of the guys and myself were going to find


 them, and do what needed to be done. This is the cycle we were prepared for, and what some ended up


 giving their life for.




Then, as soon as it began, it ended. A little bit of time on Camp Dwyer, a little bit of time at Manas, and I was


 back in the States -- safe, clean, civilized. But it didn’t feel right. A lot of people get through this transition


 scotch-free, but others are not so lucky. The guilt of coming home, when others didn’t, and many others


 didn’t whole, it ate at me, made me question my own decisions. It made me wonder endlessly about how I


 could’ve done things better, and it fucked with me. It slowly made me hate myself, hate everything I was as a


 person, because I began to believe that I was the reason these things happened to my buddies; men with


 wives, moms, and siblings. Coping with this is difficult, and why I began to drink, a lot. I didn’t want to care






I went to speak to the Medical Officer at the Battalion Aid Station, and he just told me I had anger


 management issues. I was fall apart during certain scenarios in some of our training events, but I suppressed


 it enough to go on another deployment, kept it under wraps for the most part, until I exited the Marine


 Corps. This is where my life finally started to crack. I had no job, my car had broken down, and my friends


 couldn’t stop being adults to put up with me, so I just drank more. The issues that I fought so hard to


 suppress started to reemerge, this time with a vengeance. My mom tried to get me to go the VA and get on


 something that would help me, but I refused. I kept saying I would figure it out. Ironically enough, I saw


 medication as the weak way out, yet here I was self-medicating with alcohol. It wore out those around me. I


 would argue with my mom, even scream at her on occasion. I tried fighting my brother, because I didn’t care


 anymore. I would act like an idiot around my friends, and say stuff I shouldn’t have. I just didn’t care.




One night, a little over a year and a half ago, I was done. I wanted nothing more do with my life, the constant


 hatred I had for myself but had to hide to be a “productive member of society.” It had built up to a level I just


 couldn’t handle anymore. My roommate at the time walked in on me with a gun in my hand. Had he not been


 there, I’m not sure how that not would’ve ended, but I’m fairly certain he saved my life. Other guys, they’re


 not so lucky. I, along with so many others, made a promise to this country, but it feels like this nation hasn’t


 held up its end of the bargain. The politicians and key figures talk a good game, but I hardly ever see


 anything of value from these talking points they constantly push. It seems like every week one of the


 organizations that claim they’re here to help, whether private non-profits or government agencies, are


 getting into trouble over a new controversy. All that has ever been asked of them is to do their job; to


 provide the support veterans need, and that’s not much. I don’t ask for much; I like to think I’ve done pretty


 well and for the most part have a hold on my problems, and a lot of veterans are doing even better than I


 am. However, not everyone can say that, and these are the people that need help the most, people who are


 fighting a war that is oh, so different, but still just as dangerous.



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