“How many Veterans do combat and then later question the wars they participate in?”
Today marks the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Over the years, I have mulled over my participation in the Global War on Terror:
That is ALL the display of patriotism I need to show, because all of this… [wave of the arm at all of the Mandatory Corporate Patriot decorations festooned about] …ALL of this will be forgotten in about six to seven months, but that sticker will still be there.”
After a few moments of shared shock, as we tried to comprehend the implications of what was happening, I got off to start prepping my gear… reassembling and packing for the inevitable phone call.
These experiences and training, by my calculations, has a price tag of over $19 million dollars, and the personal toll taken is a list both minor and major. Back… knees… first marriage… mind… mild aversion to tomato-based beverages and liquids… nicotine habit…
To this day, I hate the idea of ideology which compels man to be inhuman to “others” and this is a big part of my issue with the original question.
We went because the people we loved relied on us to serve regardless of personal politics. We went because people depended on us to go — whether it was family or our brothers and sisters in arms (which is damned-near, if not better at times, than blood relationships).
I share all of those posts to allow the reader to come to their own conclusions for what follows:
Of course I do.
I question if I did everything I could.
I hope so.
I question if I merely dreamed I did any of that.
My back reminds me that I did.
I question if I would, knowing what I know now, do it all over again.
Indeed I would.
I don’t question whether or not the conflict was necessary. As I wrote in a previous post:
The fact is that both the follow-on conflict in Afghanistan as well as our involvement in Iraq happened. There is no way to undo these events, no way to recoup the political and financial costs of these wars, and no way to resurrect the dead on either side.
Were there better options for our responses after the attacks? Probably. We could have gone in much more vengeful or much more benevolent. Our timeline could have been short or it could have stretched for… um… yeah. The conditions for peace could have been specific or they could have shifted on the winds of political and public opinion. Things could have been all of the above or none of the above… but none of that changes where we are now and where we can go from here.
It has been proven to be frustrating to see places I have spent time fall to ISIS. It has been difficult to consider the time in harm’s way spent as a commodity squandered for one reason or another. And it is painful to consider the loss of friends in conflicts which continue to be debated from the safety and comfort of one’s home.
…But, it happened.
Where we go from there depends on rational participation on all levels – from the voting population to those who are elected as representatives of our respective nations; from understanding the causes to structuring a viable solution. After all, what point is asking a question about a conflict after the fact when everything before then was never scrutinized?
That is my question: where do you take us from here?