June 23, 2009

Reconciling our Combat Past with our Present Presense

Today I received an email from a reader who had some questions. She has a Iraqi veteran friend who had returned in 2007 from back to back deployments. Just recently he had opened up and sent her an email of some pictures he had of his Humvee after it had hit an IED, he was the only survivor. She asked these questions,
Any advice what to say or not say? Do you agree him showing me the pictures was important? Why now two years later does he send the pictures?
Below, my email in response,

When you said,
I simply told him thanks for sharing the pics, that I am really glad he is still here, and clearly he is still meant to be here.you expressed a heartfelt answer. I do not know if I could have scripted a better response.

I do agree that his showing you the pictures is of significant importance. When your veteran shared the pictures with you he opened the door for an interpersonal exchange on the subject. That being said, I would reserve talking to him about the pictures and shared revelations until the right moment. I have been talking about this "right moment" for the last month or so with my sons, girlfriend, family and friends. Your questions on when to talk or broach the subject of combat experiences reaffirms a divine presense in my life.

The right moment will arise and become recognizable when it materializes. It will be more of a 'feeling' or emotional response to something said, done or expressed. It may be when he further shares his mindfulness and opens his heart to you. I would reserve bringing the subject up due to his emotional stability may not be at a high enough level to respond positively. If you remain in the moment or feel an empathetic resonance between the two of you, you will know when the right moment appears.

As for his waiting two years later to show you the pictures. When we go to combat it changes us completely; we have attained a different operational system based on a combat values structure, we have bonded with our battle buddies on a closer level than we ever thought possible and potentially more so than we know ourselves. A brotherhood born of blood.

Additionally, while in the battlefield we have this fantasy of life back home and hold to it as though it has not changed. We come home having expectations of our significant others, wives, husbands, children and family to be as they were. Yes we have been told to expect these changes. But, coming home with our new perspective of life we find that we have stepped off into an alien world where everything looks as it did before but now seems distant even though we are near.

Everyone that depended on us has grown accustomed to filling this void with others or have grown to be independent. We now try and fit back into the shoes we once filled only to find that they fit uncomfortably and cause us pain. It takes time to adjust back into our lives and make peace with what we have seen and done while reconciling it with our present.

We miss our past selves and past lives, our brotherhood and our sense of security.


  1. You made me cry - thank you for sharing- we need to know how to support and help our loved ones. Thanks

  2. You are welcome. Thank you for commenting.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee