Being in the military is often an exercise in the surreal. The process of unreality begins in basic training, continues through your training and deployment, and peaks when you emerge on the other side with a DD-214 in your hand and years’ worth of (good, bad, painful, confusing, conflicted, devastating, frustrating, bitter, proud) memories in your head. The surreal is no longer the drill sergeant smoking you for eating a cookie, the officer ordering you to build a doggie door for his unauthorized pet or picking up the last unit’s garbage in the Mojave Desert for four days straight. The true surreal is watching the political process play out on brightly lighted screens showing dull-eyed commentators and analysts. The surreal is trying to connect with people back home — people who love you, people who like you, people who have put you out of their minds.
Sgt Jonathan Raab, Afghanistan war veteran
Posted on 10/1/2012
Here's the lead in to the quote we posted to the front page:
That’s especially true when the reality of home is that you have become invisible, and your work, your profession and your entire way of life are suddenly of little consequence to the average American. Not talking or thinking about that leads to your staying away longer, because being gone (and you are gone, aren’t you?) is suddenly a more attractive option.
It’s better not to talk about it when home is where your friends and family who didn’t bother to write, e-mail or call for months at a time suddenly want to ask you deeply personal questions about traumatic experiences. Home is where you find your job is gone. Home is where you find your apartment or house empty, save for a few boxes and the dusty footprints of the one who left you. Home is where you interact with your spouse and children with desperate periods of horrible silence.
Home is where the two men running for president, and most of the media around them, share that same horrible silence when it comes to the war, or to the missions that support that war, or to your role and place as a soldier and a citizen within the machine, within but on your way back out, returning to a place and a people you remember vividly but would now hardly recognize.
This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? Then I guess we’d better start talking.
We won't hear about this on Wednesday and it's a damn shame.
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