Whether or not you understand the true meaning of thanksgiving, it's still just a holiday to many but one that I give a new meaning to after this one here with my unit in Afghanistan. Before I even left for my deployment, I would often sit back to ponder what the holidays would be like away in combat zone where just about everything American exists within a small radius of everyone. This past holiday answered that question for me and showed many here with me that even though it appears to be simply another day that passes like others, you still feel the need to give thanks for all that you have. I was fortunate to have sat in the company of my soldiers at the DFAC where we were served a traditional thanksgiving day meal.....ARMY STYLE!!! Right there with everyone I looked around the table and as we chowed down, I took a moment to say thanks to everyone in attendance. For that today in this moment we are all family with thanks to give to each other as well as ourselves.
I've come to learn since I've been in country that to be serviceman is no ordianry profession and requires those in society that are broken from an extraordinary mold. Though we all look at each other as people from all over the states that found there place in the military, we all overcame the rigors of our intense training that earned us the right to call each other SOLDIERS. Now that we find ourselves facing the challenge of not only fighting a war and and staying focused on the mission, we struggle to maintain our solumn composure during the holiday season in abscence of our loved ones.
Lately, I have found it to be significantly more difficult to keep my composure amongst my subordiantes, my peers, and most all my loved ones. After being deployed for two nearly months now I have begun to feel the effects of combat set deep within the very inner core of my mind, heart, and soul. Rather than finding a way to channel all of the stress and frustration that are produced under the conditions in this environment, I find that for myself, it has been more a challenge to admit that these condtions had an effect on me and that it was now overt. I found that lately I was struggling to crawl out of bed in the morning that continously made me almost 15 minutes late to work each day. At conclusion of each day, I would stumble back to my hooch at night lacking the energy I needed to get myself into the gym for some intense PT that was very overdue. Instead, I would just logon to skype with my girlfriend and family for some re-connection time with the world at home that would be proceeded by a lot complacency to move from my bed. For those of you know me well, that is not the person I am whatsoever.
The other morning after once again being late for work, one of my senior NCOs sat me down and asked me if all was well with me. The change in me that he noticed was also being seen by my co-workers who had expressed their concerns to me in an earlier occasion. Being the alpha male-tough guy that I am, I would just denounce the speculations they were making and drive on with my day. However, I found it nearly impossible in front of this Sergeant to deny it all once again, so I let it all loose. Not only to him, but to myself I admitted finally that maybe I wasn't as well off as I presumed. The realization that war truely is hell and that it effects everyone in various ways had rest its head my shoulder. The hard part of being an officer in the military is that under the same stresses that all of your soldiers find incapable of dealing with, it's expected that you mentor them in ways the provide the comfort and guidance that reforms them back into a fighting posture. The real challenge in all this is that you're expected to maintain you presence of leadership and continue to guide the way to victory without letting any of the same stresses and emotional deterrents impair the ability of making sound, combat decisions. However, you also need to realize that your human qualities can take quite the beating under this stress, which requires that extraordinary individual to recognize the signs of fatigue and to treat them.
The past two weeks I've seen myself in my own company crumble in moments of weakness from the stress and fatigue of this deployment. However, I have also seen that I am a remarkable individual like the rest of the soldiers that rose of above what could have cause me to become a casualty of war. But, I can't take all of the credit for this ability to do so. Someone, a very exquisite, remarkable, and most of all beautiful individual in infinate ways with an unconditional and endless love for me did every she could to keep me at bay and safe from the stressors eating me alive.
This person, for as long as I have known her, has done everything that she can plus more to express how much I mean to her and that under no circumstances will that ever change. Saying this now it occured to me the past few days that all of the stress I've endured caused me to become quite dilerious at times bringing some peculiur thoughts to my mind. It somehow let me forget about many of the wonderful things my girlfriend is to me and had me questioning myself with my path I'm on with her. I can't tell her enough how sorry I am that it has even made me question myself and the person I have been to her. I spent most of our relationship to this point looking at her constituents rather than than giving the whole person concept any merit. Most scary of it all, even scarier than the realities of of what could lost in combat, losing her over this would have killed me before anything else did. So with all of this I brought myself to understand that you should never considering folding a near royal flush when you've got a queen of hearts and a future that's an ace in the hole.
So in giving thanks to all the progress I've made with the life I live here as well as thanking all my loved ones....especially you Melissa that have helped me to stay above water. Most of I give thanks to all of you that I am still hear to write this message to all of you.