I’m Glad I Served

Happy Veterans Day to all of the brave men and women, who have served, and are currently serving. It was an honor to have served my country from 2011-2014, as a Healthcare Specialist in the United States Army. Through Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, and 9-month tour to Afghanistan I proudly, and honorably joined the few Americans that dedicated their lives in service to our country. In Afghanistan, I had the honor, as a combat medic, to aid Soldiers,and Airmen wounded in the line of duty. Some lost limbs, some their lives. Their names, I never knew, outside of “John Doe” or “Bed 4.” Their faces, I will never forget. Their screams, their voices, their pleas, still haunt me to this day. I mourn the lives lost. I rejoice in the lives that we saved, but the lives lost…

There was an Airman, his face, I won’t forget. The title of his job, I don’t know. He had a dog. The dog was a bomb-sniffer. Something went wrong. They got blown up. The Airman lost both of his legs. They loaded him, and his dog on a chopper, and got them to Khandahar, our Role 3 Hospital, but upon landing, the dog ran off. He was probably afraid. The Airman, was rolled in on a stretcher, talking to us. He had the most beautiful face a boy could have. He had to have been mixed. His eyes were green, his skin olive, his hair was curly. Although he had lost both legs up to his knees, he was speaking to us! It was like he was fine! He kept asking about his dog. He was so concerned about his dog. I thought for sure he’d be okay. I remember thinking, “Dude, it’s just a dog, you just lost your legs.”  I really thought he’d be okay. Then, we put him under, to prepare him for surgery, and he bottomed out – flat lined. We worked on him – did all that we could. My shift was over, and my ride was waiting, I reluctantly left the others still working on him. The next day, I hurried in, I went to the ICU, to see if he was there. No sign of him. I checked to see if he had been evacuated to Germany. I had no idea of his name, so that was useless, although, I could find no record of an evacuations the prior night. I found a nurse from the night before. I asked her about him. He didn’t make it. Shortly after I left, they called it. Just like that, that beautiful boy was gone. His poor mother! I thought. How many days did it take for her to find out that her son was dead? He had no chance to live. No family. No wife. Had he ever kissed a girl, made love to a woman? Where is he spending eternity? What was his name? He was a true hero.

I’m so unworthy to be wished a “Happy Veteran’s Veteran’s Day.” What’s “happy” about it? There is NOTHING glamorous about war. Nothing good becomes of war. It is ugly. It is horrific. Young men – young, brave men, and women lose their lives – SACRIFICE their lives, before they even have the chance to live. If they don’t lose their lives overseas, they lose it in other ways. No one returns from war unchanged. No matter what kind of experience you have while deployed, you don’t come back the same. You are changed. I would not trade the experience for anything else in the world. I will maintain the fact that I am glad that I served. I lost a husband, my family was destroyed, my life will never be the same. I will never be the same. I cannot seem to maintain human relationships. I am a recluse. I am timid, I am unsure of myself. I barely function in society. Still, I am glad that I served. I will never be in another relationship, most likely. No one will ever love me. But, I am glad that I served. I know what I lost while over there. I lost so much. I left a large piece of myself. Still, I am glad that I served. So often, I wish that I had died while I was over there, I don’t understand why I didn’t die… Inside I did – emotionally, I am dead. Physically, a shell exists, of my former self. Why does this shell live on, why didn’t it die over there in Afghanistan? Still, I am glad I served. I am no hero. Still, I am glad I served. For those that paid the ultimate price, that sacrificed what I could not – Happy Veteran’s Day. May you rest in peace. May we never forget your faces, your legacy, what you’ve done. To my beautiful airman, your face is forever in my memory – your beautiful face… I hope to meet you on the other side, if only to hug your neck. I wish I had touched your cheek, soothed you better, eased your doubts about your dog. I wish I had found out your name. It would have been forever in my memory along with your gorgeous eyes. Your death changed my life. I think a piece of me died with you. I don’t know how you died? When you came in you were so strong! You were talking! They told me it was the shock. You beautiful boy. I hope you are resting easy in God’s hands. I am glad to have known you for a full 2-3 minutes before we put you under. To have met you, I’m glad I served.

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