I find myself trying to blend in to whatever realm I face at the moment. Reality has become harsher and harsher.. I find that I no long blend in well with anyone, really.
Soldiers today find themselves in an ever devolving 1% of the population. They put themselves in the line of defense for our nation. Many politicians may make you beleve they are doing the say, but bullets flying at you out-weight the “political pressure” and legacy destruction they face in modern society’s social world, based on decisions that are more centered on monetary interests then the interests of the people they are chosen to representative. Anyhow…..I digress.
I have recently started the journey of treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is my fourth or fifth time doing this. It is rather astounding that I have not taken my own conditions and problems seriously, but I live in a world where weakness is death. Weakness signifies your inability to lead, complete the mission, and do “what needs to be done.” As the military strives to remove the stigma of getting help for psychological disorders, the “ground guys” still face the consequences of not being around during critical moments because they’re off getting help. One would think that as combat operations wind down in different areas that this would subside, but the reality is that we’ve taken a course of constant work interation; therefore, any inconvenience into that, outside of training and combat influences, is deemed unacceptable……or at the least, inconvenient and showing that you’re not here for the long hault.
I fear that the decision I’ve made to try to “fix” myself may ultimately destroy my promotion potential. Having been an enlisted Soldier for coming up on 15 years, it is a rather hard pill to swallow, but at the end of the day, my status as a Soldier does not define me. I love what I do. I’ve loved taking care of, training, and leading Soldiers. The ambiguous situations that we face are beyond comparison, but good men have done more with less, and I respect them for all that they’ve given for any cause that men in suits dare bring upon them. I am not defined by my role as a Soldier, but I am very proud of what I do. What brings me to the state of affairs that I find myself is that I want to emulate my own father.
My father grew up in circumstance that I could not imagine. Only now, as an adult, can I begin to understand all that he and his siblings went through. I’ve tried my entire life to be the man that my father is, but I fear that in my attempts to “self-medicate” myself from the situations I have found myself, that I may be recyling the madness that my grandfather brought upon his children and wives. I do not wish to be that man. I wish to be more the man my father was. It is through that epiphany that I’ve, once again, brought myself to the point of attempting treatment for PTSD.
The civilian perception may be that I am ready to snap at a moment’s notice and replicate one of the many, and regrettable, mass shootings that have happened in the past few years. The truth, and if you follow many veteran blogs you will see, is that I struggle to maintain control of my anger and senses. I have been doing this for nearly 15 years, and the hardest struggle I have is moving from an environment where I tell someone to do something and they do it, to coming home and telling toddlers to do something…… ultimately they do nothing, argue, or cry for no reason. For the average parent, this may be hard, but for someone who has had people in his ear and head for 15 years, non-compliance is beyond frustrating. The moment I realized that I can get to a point of yelling so quickly is the moment that I decided to get treatment.
My children are not abused, but they are raised by a hardass Noncommissioned Officer who likes things to be the way that they should be. That works in a military setting, but when it comes to discovering the world……. it’s not so easy.
If anyone is interested in following this journey, please do. I seek nothing in return, and ultimately understand that I risk everything by documenting every inch of this journey. I feel it more important that I help my fellow man and Soldier than I do promotion, though. If I cannot be promoted off of the merit of my work and get held back the unchosen experiences I have encounted though this military life of mine, so be it.
So, follow, stay in touch, and if you need help……..REACH OUT! to me….to your NCO…chaplain…..whomever it may be. United we stand. This bond we share transcends formations and ranks. I do not wish to lose another Soldier here or in person to something that is controllable and treatable.
-Shaun M. Wilkinson