Now that Christmas is around the corner I can't help but think about my service in the military. Christmas was just another day to me a few years back. On countless occasions I spent holidays low crawling through muddy water and humping weight on my back until my socks were blood red. Now that I am no longer serving I can truly enjoy Christmas and celebrate the birth of Christ.
My first few years out of the military were a different story. I felt guilty sitting at family Christmas gatherings, while everyone was exchanging gifts. Guilty because I knew that guys were out on missions away from their families, embracing the suck.. Something I could not quite grasp at the time. I think I felt like this for a few reasons. Either way the guilty feeling can paralyze the strongest of people. Since I left the military, not on my own terms, I had angst towards not doing the dirty work anymore. Honestly, I hated it. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about my experiences in the military and how much it impacted my life. I miss it, I miss the camaraderie. Blogging about it helps fill some of the void that I lack from not being apart of a team. This guilty feeling makes me feel less of a man. I know I shouldn't feel this way but I did especially fresh out of the military and in some ways still do. I was so used to deploying around the world to fight the terrorists of my country that not participating really ate me up.. This guilt drove me to be reclusive and to not want to partake in Christmas festivities. Over time I began to realize the sacrifice's that are made so we can all have a lifestyle of what we choose. Sometimes its easy to get caught up in the material aspect of Christmas. I just ask that during this holiday, try to reconnect with an old ranger buddy. It could help make the pain and guilt a little more bearable. It could help save a life.
After learning to cope with the guilt, I can honestly say that holidays are a lot easier for me. Making someone aware of my feelings helps me understand my own struggle as well as makes my family aware of my situation. And just like Ranger Mcneill said, "surround yourself with good people." Surround yourself with people that understand your struggle. I am excited to spend the holidays with my family and enjoy Christmas again. This is the first Christmas, since being injured, I can actually say I am excited about. During the holidays, please keep a close eye on a combat veteran that you know.
Merry Christmas! RLTW!