This time of year is always tough for many veterans. We've lost friends. Good friends. These friendships were forged in blood, sweat, and tears; so, it was only natural that the 'friendship' label does the relationship we all shared no justice. No. We were - and still remain - brothers. For many of our brothers, war is all they knew. War is something they will always yearn for; why? It's what many of us were meant for. Throughout history, there are stories of great warriors who shed blood with their brothers on the battlefield, and though, the way in which we wage it has changed, that brotherhood shared in battle remains the same. As many of us transition back into the civilian life, we do so without the slightest clue of what lies ahead of us. It remains unknown. Despite our extensive training in dealing with the "unknown and unknowable" on the battlefield, the thought of having to deal with what lies ahead of us in the civilian world absolutely terrifies the shit out of us. For the first time in a very long time we are simply, scared.
"What the fuck do I do now?"
It's rough. Alcohol and drug abuse is a natural 'cure all' that we fall back on, but there is only so much of this we can do before we ruin our lives. Tragically, many of our brothers (and sisters) succumb to the distresses of life and take their own. There isn't a veteran out there that hasn't lost a brother (or sister) to suicide. It fucking sucks. Many of them leave children behind, and the thought of this hurts. That emotional and psychological pain hits hardest around this time of year, because while we are lucky enough to be with family and celebrate life, the thought of our fallen brothers still remains at the forefront of our - already troubled - thoughts. Depression and anxiety are common, more so now than in any other part of the year. This isn't a post seeking pity, no. This is just simply a post asking for patience from those of you with loved ones - who've served - that seem more quieter, distant, stand-off(ish), angrier, short, or sad around this time. It's nothing that you have done. It's probably something you can't help with, it's just something that many veterans must deal with this time of year. So, just give them their space and allow them the time they need to gather their thoughts. This time of reflection is crucial. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years' to all!
- Eric Garcia