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

 

 anymore.

 

 

 

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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