I realize I stand to get a lot of flack from people who deem my thoughts harsh and unpatriotic, but this has been weighing on my heart for some time and I finally feel I have the courage to talk about why I hate the U.S. military.
When I was in high school I had a best friend who I'll call John. He was the big brother I never had and we teased each other mercilessly. We told each other things we had never told anyone else and were two peas in a pod. When I met John he had just arrived home from his deployment in Iraq. His thoughts and feelings toward what he had experienced were never expressed. All I knew was that he was happy to be home.
Over time, John and I continued to be close. At times maybe a little flirtatious, but our relationship was innocent and I continued to support him as he served while he teased me about my lack of a love life. When I was a sophomore in college, John was deployed a second time to Afghanistan. A month before he was expected home, his barracks were bombed. He lost several of his Army brothers, many were injured and John was never the same. I went to his friend's funeral and saw him once after that and we spent the night talking about his experience and I tried to imagine what he had gone through. I couldn't. That was the last time I talked to him. Despite my efforts, John has cut ties with everyone but immediate family, including me. It's as if by erasing the people who were in his life during that time, he can erase the pain of what he endured.
Although "Jeff" and I went to the same high school, I didn't really become friends with him until after I went to college. We had many mutual friends and during a summer at home became friendly as well. Jeff was always a little weird, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who said a bad thing about him. He was fun, positive and happy-go-lucky. He lacked direction, but was incredibly smart. While I was still in college, he enlisted.
I have always supported my troops and did so by writing him letters and sending care packages. I may not have agreed with his decision, but I was going to love the crap out of him and make sure he knew it. When he came back, he really had nothing bad to say about his time in Afghanistan, in fact he said at times, he missed it. But something was different. Jeff had become mean, cynical and negative. He was not ashamed to admit he was certain he had PTSD. Recently, I unfriended him on Facebook. I was tired of his rude comments, his mean attitude and his snarky outlook on everything and everyone.
"Joe" was a friend I met after moving to Ohio. He was an integral cog in the friend group I had become immersed in and while he was pretty quiet and reserved toward me, he had a fabulous sense of humor. He loved photography, his friends and his beautiful daughter. Everyone who met him loved him. Joe had served in the Army before I ever met him. It was pretty well-known that his experience had been trying and he had a history of depression.
In September 2011, several months after meeting him, Joe posted a video to his Facebook account saying good-bye to his friends and family. Soon after, Joe went to a range, rented a gun and shot himself in the head. Days later, I sat in a pew as the Priest conducting his service visibly broke down in tears as he tried to reconcile what had driven Joe to the point of suicide.
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Why do I hate the U.S. military? Because it takes promising young men and women and breaks them down. It targets and exploits minorities who feel they have no better options and uses them as drones. It ruins the lives of soldiers and their family and friends.
Perhaps I'm not the best person to be expressing my views against the military, but in some ways I am. I've lost friends because of war. Because of this barbaric tradition of robbing families of their daughters and sons, brainwashing them into believing that killing anyone is okay and masking it in patriotism.
There is so much more I could say on this subject, and maybe, if I'm feeling brave enough some other day, I will. But for now if you'd like to know more about my thoughts on war and the military, read the words of one of my favorite Christian leaders who expresses his concerns much more eloquently than I ever could: Shane Claiborne: The Economic Draft.
And pray for our troops.