TRANSITION: “At Home I’m a Nobody”

Soldiers board a jetliner on their way home from war. Some troops arrive to waiting family and friends just 72 hours after their last firefight. After a two- to three-week ‘honeymoon’ period, soldiers often find difficulty reconnecting with the very society they came from; a society now intolerable and foreign. After a month or so, many secretly desire to board the next plane back to combat. Others — sickened at the prospect of returning to war — will consider suicide. (DoD)

Coming Home

Combat veteran shares his experiences and observations after war

by Rhino, May 30, 2011

It’s hard to put into words what it’s like coming home. Each service member is different and each deployment is different.

For me, coming home was always a disappointment. After a honeymoon period of one or two weeks, reality kicks in and you find yourself wishing you were back there.

At home, I’m a nobody, either looking for work or hating the awful job I have at the time.

Over there, I’m Sergeant or Sarge. I’m the guy my soldiers look up to and trust to get them home alive. My superiors know I’m the guy they won’t have to worry about, that I’ll get it done and make smart decisions when they need to get made.

When people come up to me and say, “Thank you for your service,” I never know how to react. If I think they are genuine, I will say something like, “It’s an honor” or “It’s a privilege to do so.”

Sometimes though, I can tell that people are against what we’re doing over there and I really want to say, “Do you have any idea what service is?” Or “Do you know what I just gave up for you?”

The daily questions of “what was it like?” or “did you kill anyone?” have started to taper off, but you’re still angry because this is not the vision you had in mind when you went “wheels up” for the flight home. Plus, people are beginning to notice that you’re a little on edge and angrier than usual and they seem to have the need to let you know, just in case you missed it

Just because I defend your right to free speech, doesn’t mean I’m interested in what you windbags have to say. Politics aside, no service member wants to hear “you shouldn’t have had to go” or “we shouldn’t even be there.”

We, huh? What unit were you in? Were you that fellow in my truck blasting at bad guys from the gun ring? Or maybe it was you who gave me the briefing on the latest intelligence updates.


Forget the actual details of what a service member goes through, each story is as unique as a thumbprint.

Just try to imagine falling asleep and waking up again a year later. That’s what coming home is like.

You’re a year older. Things you left unfinished are still unfinished. Your car is a wreck because no one took care of it. Your clothes, music, and pop-culture references are all left over from last year. Everyone has adapted to life without you, and all that getting together and partying you and your buddies talked about never really takes place.

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