A soldier is expected to uphold standards, maintain a professional appearance and demeanor. To follow the rules and guidelines, perform expected tasks and ensure that the machine so to speak operates as smoothly as possible.
It all makes perfect sense. No reason why it shouldn't. Look good for the people you represent. Look good for your superiors so that they don't look bad in front of their superiors. Higher on up, no one worries too much about each individual Joe because there's too many of us. Bigger picture, people. But if we fuck up, it's a different story.
Not hard to grasp, right?
When you're tired or angry, fed up or sick and tired, dragged through the mud, Stop-Lossed, tour extended, recalled, or just at the end of your rope, it's not so easy. It's when you have to chew your lip. Chew it hard. Can't beat the Army by being rebellious. Can't beat the Army at all, really. This is your rock, and this is your hard place. Squeeze on in, buddy.
No one wants to hear you bitch, and if the wrong people hear you, then you're just up shit creek, and not in any way better off than had you just shut up. All for obvious and simple reasons. Fulfilling oaths and all the honorable things.
But what happens to the guys who don't get that excitement out of being a soldier anymore? The guys who aren't motivated by speeches or medals and awards, or by nothing at all? Someone asked me straight up if I was still proud to be a soldier, and I drew a blank. I'm not NOT proud. But no, I don't feel any sense of pride. I don't feel special. I don't feel heroic or important.
Just a 19 year old kid that's been in a time warp for nearly three and a half years.
Here's a biiiiig long sigh, and away we go, let me just put it out there: I don't feel emotionally scarred or somehow wronged in the greater scheme of things. I don't feel impressed by "our" accomplishments and I never once felt heroic. Every thank you, whether from someone who speaks Arabic, or someone stateside, felt closer to an odd compliment that an elderly person would give you. Not a bad thing, just weird. Weird like everything is. Weird like life is, my life, YOUR life, it's all just weird, for most of us. The ones who don't actually have it bad.
But the Army? It just isn't like the movies or the stories you hear. It can't work that way. Some of these guys claim to hate it, but they secretly love it. Some guys are on the fence. Some guys outwardly hate it, some guys just eat it all up. I've always had my qualms and disagreements with the Army, but for the most part is isn't bad. Put up with it and drive on, cash that paycheck and pass Go. The bummer is that the Monopoly board just repeats itself. Running in circles. I just don't want to do it anymore.
But until they let me go, it's Pass Go or Go To Jail. When you really narrow it down, that's all it is. I chose this game but I didn't get to choose the rules. Can't fold my hand, as much as I want to. Instead, I'm mumbling to you like I'm a quiet lunatic in a bar and you're the beer in front of me. Mumbling the same story every night.
On the plus side, I went swimming today.