"Don't Tread on Me"
My son seems to have made the transition pretty well after his two deployments, but he is not quite the same person he was when he left the first time...there's something different about him, but I can't quite say what it is. His transition to civilian life has gone okay, but the job hunt has not been easy. Finding a job to support his growing family has proven to be difficult. The other day he and his family were visiting. He had just lost a job that barely got them by while living with his brothers and had missed out on another good job opportunity, and he was approaching his 6-month re-enlistment window where he could go back in without having to repeat basic training. With no job on the horizon, his wife asked him if he would consider talking to a recruiter to see what his re-enlistment options were. His demeanor changed, his face darkened, and he answered with an emphatic "NO!" He went on to say that re-enlisting would mean another deployment and that he'd already been there twice and come back twice, but he had a gut feeling that if he went again, he wouldn't come back. Needless to say, that was the end of the conversation. I had never seen him look quite like that before...it was an eye-opener. He is still haunted by his time in Iraq. He's extremely proud of having served his country, but he wants a regular life now where he can watch his children grow up...and who can blame him.
Anyway, tread lightly and with great reverence when you encounter our vets...from any war. They have seen things and done things that the rest of us can't even imagine. Some want to talk about it, some don't...but they all deserve our utmost respect and appreciation.