War is a racket. I read this article by a retired general one morning at my small apartment in Colorado Springs. Shortly after my retirement, I became disillusioned with my military service. Nightmares plagued me. I would hallucinate about the bodies that I had seen and in some instances, would watch my actions replay in vivid detail in my mind.
This morning I read about a veteran who shot up a bar in California. My mind is racing this morning. If not for the grace of God, there goes I. The military spends massive amounts of money training servicemen and women to fight. It is not an easy thing to turn off. When life gets dark for a veteran, it gets pitch black. Seek counseling. This sound advice rings hollow for many. I only sought it after ruining everything I touched. I often felt that I was trapped in a pit and the only way to move was in a circle. This is no way to live.
What caused him to snap? This is why war is wrong! People can stop the moralizing. You can only sit on the mountain top and fondle your morals because veterans get in the muck and protect the sheep. There is no way to know what kind of hell this veteran endured before giving in to his darkest fear. Or maybe he wanted to feel the rush of killing again. Either way, this tragedy brings to light the treatment needed for service members when they return from combat.
I often say that innocence is the first casualty of war. Following closely behind that is faith. Faith that you are on the right side, or that you will return home and live a normal life. That someone, somewhere understands that under the dark humor and insane stories, there is a kid scared out of his mind. That when alone, the darkness comes and they jump at every sound. The dark thoughts eat away at the very fabric of their soul. Trust no one.
In no regards am I justifying the actions of this veteran. He chose to pursue his murderous urges. He gave in to his demons. All of us have a dark side that we hide from everyone. In this case, he let his demons out and he caused chaos and destruction. The battle for sanity is often a blurry line. We are all one bad day away from causing irreversible damage.
The struggle of readjustment is something that veterans have a hard time with. I was in charge of millions of dollars of equipment. I was a leader of men! My team and I accomplished every mission we were tasked with! Then we transition to civilian life. The chaotic nature of civilian life is alien to us. In the military, there is a structure. A chain of command guides our lives. In civilian life, you make it up as you go. In many ways, it’s as maddening as PTSD.
It is getting hard to write this. Please pray for the victims of this tragedy. Pray for our veteran community. God bless you all.