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15 Months in Iraq

On April 3, 2011, in Personal Stories, by admin

1SG Andrew McConnell
U.S. Army Ret. —

 

I spent 15 months in Iraq from May 2003- July 2004 but, in 2011 I still find myself there in the desert, in the city streets, on patrol, waiting for enemy fire to erupt. I find myself there and “here” waiting for the car next to me to explode or looking for snipers on the roof tops. I wish I could move on and forget about these things and live a normal life again but, it hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve tried to deal with my demons, first with denial and some alcohol, and then when my wife threatened to leave because she couldn’t deal with my anger anymore, I sought help from the Army Behavioral Health specialists. I saw a physiatrist for some time and felt better about it; while I saw the “doc”. However, after my treatment ended I went back to Iraq; in my head.

I’ve been on different drugs to control my behavior, which feels wrong because as a soldier discipline is so much of your life I feel weak needing drugs to keep me “normal”. But, it was drugs or losing my family. There was no option. Even with the medication, life is a struggle to keep my anger in check. I still have the dreams and sleepless nights. I still find myself “over there” sometimes.

I think all soldiers leave a part of themselves “over there” and some more than others. I miss the part of me that used to laugh. Oh, I still laugh once in a while but, it’s from habit, not from joy. I miss joy. I’ve tried to find it again but, it still eludes me. Maybe I’ll find it again someday.

1SG Andrew McConnell
U.S. Army Ret.

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One Response to 15 Months in Iraq

  1. Pavel says:

    My son went to VA in Jan with head fracture found by VA CAT scan, now in April my son a 2 cabmot tour vet in the reserves, has had increasing migrane headaches. He went in to the VA and they gave him vicodin last week, the and started losing vision the headaches got worse and he went in Saturday they just gave him more drugs. We kept asking for an MRI which whould showtissue damage (CAT shows bone damage) the VA refused. Last night the symptoms got worse and we took him in again, the VA was rude and would not see him right away, so he went home, as the seats are very uncomfortable, and their is nowhere except the cold hard floor to rest. Mean while the VA propraganda is playing on a large screen about how great the service to our veterans is, and one cannot even enjoy TV! When we were there a History Easter program about the Accension of Christ was on, and pretty much everyone was watching it, and right at the Accension a employee changes the channel, everyone had to complain before he changed it back! I have called the Nurse 24 hour three times, the Administrator on Duty is not on Duty, and the patient advocate is a recording. Now my son is throwing up and his vision is much worse so I post this out of frustration, as any third rate emergeny room would recogize head trama symptoms, and admit him for observation and futher treatment. The VA didn’t even give him a blood test.

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