August 15, 2010

Symbols of War, Responsibility and Remembrance

Another comment by a reader that I find should be included in our main pages. This one is from More Stupid Crap to Say to a Combat Veteran, one of our readers favorite to comment on.
OEF Combat Vet Wife says,
I have read your blog and keep returning to it. You have an insight that helps me. My husband is and OEF vet with ptsd. He does not talk much and obviously I will never understand the experience he or any of you vets have gone through.This blog helps. However, this comment "We do not wear our military memorabilia because we want people to ask us about them, we wear them to remind us of shit we will never be able to forget. If you cannot understand that then you have no business asking us about anything." leaves me a bit uneasy (for lack of a better word).
Photo by Scott Lee
When ANYONE wears any kind of symbol, saying, whatever it invites people to read, to notice and sometimes to talk. I do get wearing something as a reminder (I wear specific jewelry to remind me of those who have passed). I get to see it everyday but no one is any smarter about it. I do hope you will consider my comment and not get as upset when someone recognizes something you have on. For the most part, they probably mean no harm.
Again thank you for writing this blog.
My response,
I appreciate your comment and opinion. I understand that a person may wear an item to remind them of another. I wear my memorabilia to display a remembrance of a past war, my war, the Gulf War.

I welcome an open hearted question on the significant of the symbols I wear today. I am at a point in my life where I recognize the anger and animosity felt within and take responsibility for it. By doing so I do not project it onto other people or make others accountable for it, the consequence being acceptance. Today I wear symbols of integrity and character, to remind me that I can achieve my goals even in the face of great adversity.

There was a time that I wore them for other reasons, to immortalize the guilt I still carry today. I left my guys over there, we killed literally thousands upon thousands of Iraqi soldiers, and finally the 30 soldiers that were trying to surrender. The insignias were my badges of guilt and shame, nothing that I wanted to share in a positive way.

When I wrote this piece I was reminded of the anger and rage I felt that encompassed my being and perspective. I was ready to explode and any excuse was the ember that could spark an inferno. I remember that a well formed question could offset this demeanor and open a reverence and grieving process whereby I could speak of the emotional pain. I was both of these people along with many others.

I see the wisdom in your response and accept it as a reminder that most people want to seek answers that only a combat veteran could expound upon. Today I honor this responsibility too speak on the reality of war and the devastating effects upon the person, family and community.


  1. I am not sure if this is still an active blog but I would like to open up.

    I recently started seeing/dating a gentleman in the Navy. I learned early on of his several deployments to the Middle East and he had claimed to not have any residual symptoms of the deployments.

    Last week he lost a close friend of his in a motorcycle accident, a friend whom he had been deployed with several times... since he lost the friend he hasn't been the same. I began to realize he was having an issue with the loss. We went out that night and he began to open a little bit about what he had experienced and he said that he knows he has issues with his deployments and he should see someone but he hasn't yet. I let the conversation go, and didn't plan to revisit it until it was necessary.

    Tuesday this week, I spent the night and it stormed through the night. He began to scream in his sleep "don't do that, wait for us" etc and I woke up at one point with his hand across my throat. It was not clenched but it was lying there. Later in the evening, I woke up to a loud burst of thunder and he looks at me, still asleep, and says "are you okay over there" I replied yes thinking he was awake, and he replied "okay good, that was a close hit" and I realize he was in an alternate place that was not our bedroom.

    Since I told him about his evening night terror he has become isolated. He said he is embarrassed and it scares him. We are ultimately in radio silence. I have texted him a few times to remind him he is not alone and he does not need to go through this alone, I am not running and I am committed to him and to us as a couple.

    I knew since the first date that this is the man I am going to share my life with. Since this past week, and the turn of events with him... I am not sure what to do.

    Any help, advise or input would be greatly appreciated.


  2. It is scary to admit the dissociative features of PTSD. To do so feels like we are giving in to it. It means we must admit to oursleves that our minds have betrayed us.

    That our brains are making us see our traumatic events over and over. In our dreams, in the night or day. A waking dream is a complete break from reality, and the mind tries to make sense of scrambled memories, feelings, senses as they swim together.

    He probably doesn't have the language to discribe his inner experince. I studied psychology in college in an attempt to understand. It gave me the words to tell the doctors what it was I was experiencing.

    Patience is key, but keep checking on him. Keep reading and studying how to help him. I hope this message finds you well. Sorry for the long absence. I am back and writing again. Check out the new posts.


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