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Posted: 7/21/2008 6:44:07 PM EST
Every now and again something here in my civilian life will remind me of my wonderful vacation in Iraq, and I'll tell somebody, like a co-worker about it. It's usually something humorous, or interesting, like how the crossed swords monument grounds are littered with trash and liquor bottles (in an islamic country) or how we pulled a prank on 1SG. Lighthearted stuff.
But every now and again I slip up, and tell a story that may have been a bit gruesome, like the time we ran over a dog and almost flipped our stryker, and the reactions I get are usually horrified looks, or looks like "OMG, this dude is fucking NUTS!"
I'm not sure, but maybe I need to stop telling people ANYTHING about when I was over there.
How do the Veterans of Arfcom deal with it?
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:47:48 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 6:56:23 PM EST by HK91_Tool]
Not a vet, but I don't ask vets about their stories. If they tell one I am always there to listen. Almost flipping a Stryker off a dog is a decent story, IMHO.

ETA: Some people can't take a story about laughing so hard you shit your pants. Oh I just remembered the first time my co-workers found out I had <gulp> guns. And lots of them. Nevermind the razor sharp pair of scissors on my hip.

Don't stress it. They should be thankful to have you back, and be happy they aren't reading the Koran.

P.S. Thank you.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:49:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 6:52:39 PM EST by DSVET91]
I will usually just tell humorous stories or what it was like living in the Desert from day to day to people who have never served .

My favorite to pass along is my buddy who stripped down to his skivies andclimbed into his fart sack, which 2 scorpions had crawled into. They started stinging him, he couldn't get the bag unzipped, look a big green worm with epilepsy trying to get out of that fart sack.

.As far as any "war stories" the only people I have shared them with is my Dad who is a Vietnam Vet and my wife.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:49:43 PM EST
I've never been in your situation, but, as a paramedic, I have stories that I only break out around like minded people(read: other first responders) due to the fact that most people are oblivious about what we do, and probably wouldn't "get" the gallows sense of humor we have that allows us to do what we do, and not want to go home every night, and hit the bottle, or blow your own head off. I would just say, be careful who you tell that gruesome story to.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:49:54 PM EST

Originally Posted By HK91_Tool:
Not a vet, but I don't ask vets about their stories. If they tell one I am always there to listen. Almost flipping a Stryker off a dog is a decent story, IMHO.

It wasn't so much flipping the stryker off of the dog as it was trying to turn the wheel quickly to smoosh the dog better. It was a pretty big german shepard looking dog.
(which we missed BTW)
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:50:44 PM EST
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:52:27 PM EST
I have no problem listening to your guys stories. Please share them with us.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:53:41 PM EST

Originally Posted By junker46:
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.


That's a pretty fucking ignorant statement. So I guess if I were to sit in on a Psych 101 Lab and talk about how war's affected me, I'm a poser?

Go back to reading your Tom Clancy novels.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:53:56 PM EST
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:53:57 PM EST
Some things are better off not talking about . Unless you're talking to another vet that has been there.


just my 2cents
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:54:56 PM EST
I think it is natureral, I find Myself slipping every now and then also. Mostly I believe it only bothers me. Most people seem to take it a s an update to there MSM intake. They werent there couldnt imagine.

I dont like to share my stories. Well like you said the bad ones the ones that keep you up at night or give you that uncomfortable silent moment of thought.

The funny ones and light hearted (Looking for better word) Hazing stories are always fun. However they are the key to the slip.

I try not to dwell on any memories in story form. It happens.

Just remember your not the only one and No we are not SUPER MAN so it does effect us.

Also some sheltered lifesyled people cant handle 30 seconds of a slip.

Stay strong THey say time helps, " I dont know."
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:55:55 PM EST

Originally Posted By wicked_chicken:

Originally Posted By junker46:
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.


That's a pretty fucking ignorant statement. So I guess if I were to sit in on a Psych 101 Lab and talk about how war's affected me, I'm a poser?

Go back to reading your Tom Clancy novels.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say he probably means the "Braggers" are the fakes. The guy standing behind you in line who tells you about his SEAL team 6 exploits.
Thats how I read it anyway....
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:56:55 PM EST
Only time I have ever asked someone about the war is if they were in the nursing homes I have worked in. They LOVE to tell their stories, for the most part.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:57:45 PM EST
I really don't tell my stories. Usually people don't believe them because it seems so far out and different than the way people perceive me. My wife knows my stories and that is all that really matter I guess.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:57:47 PM EST
Yeah, sometimes after a few drinks I forget that civilians don't find stories involving blown up Iraqis humorous.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:58:42 PM EST
My buddy had pics of a suicide bomber that blew himself up to far away. So they picked up his head and put in a bag to take back to base.

RR
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:58:51 PM EST
Keep it light.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 6:59:46 PM EST
I don't think its good to keep things bottled up inside that you want to talk about.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:01:00 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 7:02:17 PM EST by wicked_chicken]

Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:

Originally Posted By wicked_chicken:

Originally Posted By junker46:
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.


That's a pretty fucking ignorant statement. So I guess if I were to sit in on a Psych 101 Lab and talk about how war's affected me, I'm a poser?

Go back to reading your Tom Clancy novels.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say he probably means the "Braggers" are the fakes. The guy standing behind you in line who tells you about his SEAL team 6 exploits.
Thats how I read it anyway....


If that's what he meant, that's what he should have said. But seeing as he decided to whip out the 12 gauge and shotgun blast everyone who's ever been overseas and told a story about it, I'll respond as such.

The biggest problem with telling stories is that 98% of the population (Less, actually) simply cannot to relate to you. In fact, the only people who CAN relate are *usually* those who have been.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:01:11 PM EST

Originally Posted By badfish274:
I don't think its good to keep things bottled up inside that you want to talk about.


Unless you're John Kerry. Who was in Vietnam, in case you didn't know.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:02:50 PM EST
Even if civilians think they want to hear it, they don't. This seems especially true of guys in technical, white-collar jobs who didn't serve, but who seem to feel better being around those that did. I'm basing my opinion on the fact that I have yet to spend any kind of time with someone in the IT field who chose not to join without eventually being told how they wish they would have. That confession is usually followed by them telling me how they never would've made it because they'd yell back, smart-off or some other lame BS.

Welcome home (if only belated), getting out is harder than goin' in, IMHO.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:03:48 PM EST

Originally Posted By Stlrain0341:
Yeah, sometimes after a few drinks I forget that civilians don't find stories involving blown up Iraqis humorous.

Yup. Last week I saw a re-run of a southpark episode where cartman bet kyle that people shit themselves after they die, and throughout the episode, people died, and their asses exploded in shit.
We watched that same episode on haj copy over there, and the next day on patrol we saw four IA's get ambushed and killed. After everything was done we had to pull the IA's bodies out of the street, and they smelled like shit. We kinda chuckled at the irony of the situation as our medic quietly said "It's just like that southpark episode! They really do shit themselves!"
Something that would ONLY be slightly humorous over there under those conditions.
Yet my co-workers looked pretty freaked out when I told them.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:06:50 PM EST
im the same way. everybody can get the stories about the airsoft wars with the HQ section, and the funny graffiti in the guard towers, maybe occasionally ill mention a firefight or mortar attack. but the only time i share the real 'war stories' are with other vets
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:15:44 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 7:16:10 PM EST by roadhog481]
It's just the company you tell the stories in. Like for that story about the dog, you may need to preface with the little gem about the differences between American dogs and Iraqi dogs. I enjoy talking to (most)vets because we always have stories to share, and sometimes were the only ones who get it.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:16:18 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 7:22:31 PM EST by BuckeyeRifleman]
Not a combat vet, but I've got some gruesome ones from my line of work (firefighter/emt).

It depends on who it is. I'm generally a pretty good judge of character and I can generally tell who will appreciate and understand the story and who will think I'm a creep. It also depends on the story. Ill openly talk about the ones where we saved a life, the ones where people die are a little different. But If someone asks I usually don't care.

Part of me likes telling them in a way. I think its important for people who live boring lives to know what goes on in the real world.

I generally leave out the disturbingly humorous stories, civilians usually don't get it.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:20:17 PM EST

Originally Posted By Deej86:
Only time I have ever asked someone about the war is if they were in the nursing homes I have worked in. They LOVE to tell their stories, for the most part.



I know a gentleman who was there for most of the major campaigns in the Pacific...crewing a 5" gun on Fleet carriers..including the Hornet [CV12]..his favorite story is...after years of war, kamikaze attacks, etc without a scratch...He finally made it home to the states..gets off the ship in San Francisco and got mugged.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:25:07 PM EST
I will admit though, I do have a fake story I tell gullible chicks about how I got seperated from my platoon on a foot patrol and had to wear a burka to get back to the FOB, and ended up having my cover blown, and I had to fight until I ran out of ammo, and ended up cutting some alqueda leaders throat from behind with a crude knife I fashioned out of a jagged piece of scrap steel and a piece of my shirt.
The story always varies in one way or another, but they always beleive it (or act like they do) until I say "Nah, just kidding, Iraq is boring as shit."
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:34:45 PM EST

Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:
I will admit though, I do have a fake story I tell gullible chicks about how I got seperated from my platoon on a foot patrol and had to wear a burka to get back to the FOB, and ended up having my cover blown, and I had to fight until I ran out of ammo, and ended up cutting some alqueda leaders throat from behind with a crude knife I fashioned out of a jagged piece of scrap steel and a piece of my shirt.
The story always varies in one way or another, but they always beleive it (or act like they do) until I say "Nah, just kidding, Iraq is boring as shit."


I have a story like that. It goes like this.

Lt. decides to leave BIAP during daylight to Cross-Sabers. (45 minute drive.)
Lt. gets General to sign off on risk assessment.
Lt. gets convoy lost for 12 hours.
MP Patrol saves LT.'s ass and gets us to destination.
Convoy picks up load.
Convoy leaves Sabers.
Lt. gets convoy lost... again.
Lt. gets us to BIAP.
Lt. can't find BIAP gate.
We sit outside of BIAP for another 6 hours.


Moral of the story?
Never take an Lt. Anywhere. And don't let him have the map if you do.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:35:34 PM EST
wait wait wait - what kind of DOG would almost flip a Striker? WTF?
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:35:47 PM EST
look at it this way, most respectful ppl would have a tough time asking you about the more violent moments BUT its all about wht you are comfortable with talking about. if you want to share, more power to you, my grandfather only opened up about what happened to him in WW2 2 years before he died. his stories were very sobering and humbling.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:39:19 PM EST
What I've found over the years is that you can tell your stories; but don't expect civilians to understand anything. They're dumb as a bag of rocks. The only people who will understand what you're trying to say, the point you're trying to make, is others who've been there.

A lot of Marines I know say that they stopped telling their "war stories" to civilians a long time ago because the civvies never got it, and acted all weird. I continue to tell my stories, though. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. Hahaha!
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:40:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Stlrain0341:
Yeah, sometimes after a few drinks I forget that civilians don't find stories involving blown up Iraqis humorous.


Oddly - I would. I only know one 'real deal' person - and he is a friend of a friend. Sooo - no stories for me.

If you can - chat up the guys passing out poppies on veterns day.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:40:13 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 7:45:03 PM EST by cockroach]
1ST thing I learned is STOP DRINKING, if you do. That's when the most slips occur, or the nightmares come.

Your're laughing and spitting beer everywhere at the end of a hilarious story that involves gore, and look up to wide eyes and blank stares.........

Another helpful hint: if you do share a part of a story do so in the third person, and preface it accordingly. That way if they take it badly or want more details you can decide on a course of action from there.


ETA: try to stick to neutral funny stories if you do find the need to share. Like thinking you've been hit (and freaking yelling it too) when a round blew through your canteen leaking hot water all over your back/leg.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:44:20 PM EST
Just tell funny stories, unless you are talking/reminiscing with your friends that were with you at the time.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:44:26 PM EST

Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:

Originally Posted By wicked_chicken:

Originally Posted By junker46:
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.


That's a pretty fucking ignorant statement. So I guess if I were to sit in on a Psych 101 Lab and talk about how war's affected me, I'm a poser?

Go back to reading your Tom Clancy novels.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say he probably means the "Braggers" are the fakes. The guy standing behind you in line who tells you about his SEAL team 6 exploits.
Thats how I read it anyway....


You'd be correct. I know alot of vets, and while they'll give you a general and sometimes colorful story, many times you can see them holding back on certain details.

I.e. someone on here awhile back finially realized what and why his combat vet father had the 1K yard stare at breakfast sometimes.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 7:52:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 7:54:09 PM EST by coyotesilencer]
Some things I just don't want to tell, I guess I am afraid what my family and friends would think about me if I told them what I have seen/done. It hurts to keep some things inside, but I just don't know the right answer. I have not seen some of my family members in 4 years simply because I know they are going to ask some uncomfortable questions I don't want to deal with. As far as complete strangers are concerned, they don't need to know anything.

If someone asks me about Iraq, I will just tell them some of the funny stories, like our dumb LT that got 3 out of 4 Bradley's he was in control over stuck in a not so dry dry-lake bed. Or the time his replacement LT fell in one of the open sewers in the street and his NOD's gave him a black eye, and where we were at there was no laundry service, so he had to throw his soiled DCU's away. Of course I always get the "did you kill anybody" question, and I just tell them I will let them know when they are older, or if it is an adult, I will tell them some BS about all the Hajji I blew away.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 8:01:08 PM EST
I don't talk about stuff until I really know the people I'm talking to. Most people will judge you on that stuff and not realize that it is something from a past life that doesn't have any bearing on your current self (as in you are not psycho because you killed people in a gun fight while serving your country).

You have to remember that we live in a polite society that is far removed from the horrors of the rest of the world. Most of the sheeple have never seen anything worse than a deer hit by a car on the side of the road. It is completely unfathomable that someone they know has killed another human being. The media and the liberal society in which we live have perpetuated the lie that every soldier that served in combat is screwed up in the head and cannot readjust to their world. They will never understand.

I'm sure that some of them have even reported you telling stories like that and it is probably listed in your company record. I'd just keep your mouth shut and go on about your business. Talk to friends and family and others that have been there, but leave the coworkers out of it.
Link Posted: 7/21/2008 9:02:20 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/21/2008 9:03:00 PM EST by wicked_chicken]

Originally Posted By coyotesilencer:
Of course I always get the "did you kill anybody" question, and I just tell them I will let them know when they are older, or if it is an adult, I will tell them some BS about all the Hajji I blew away.


My response to that question is "That's between me and them." I'll then politely inform them that's not a question they should ever ask anyone ever again.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 3:48:08 AM EST

Originally Posted By wicked_chicken:

Originally Posted By coyotesilencer:
Of course I always get the "did you kill anybody" question, and I just tell them I will let them know when they are older, or if it is an adult, I will tell them some BS about all the Hajji I blew away.


My response to that question is "That's between me and them." I'll then politely inform them that's not a question they should ever ask anyone ever again.


Exactly... I've talked to vets from WW II, Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq 1 & 2. All of them had fascinating stories. Only the Vietnam vet, a helicopter pilot, came close to suggesting he had any involvement in the deaths of others. If you have read Grossman's "On Killing", I assume it is because he had some deniability about his rockets and machine guns actually being effective.

I say evaluate your audience to prevent telling more than they can handle hearing and then tell as much as you are willing and no more.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:00:02 AM EST
Half the people won't believe you and the other half won't know where your head was at at the time.

Try explaining how you put a round through someones forehead and you and all your buddys high-fived each other for a few minutes afterwards. At the time it made perfect sense, not so much at the dinner table a few years later.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:20:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By junker46:
if you're silent about it, youre the real deal. If you talk openly about it, you're a poser. I think that's written somewhere.



Beat me to it. That's about 99+% true. (Vietnam vet)

I've been asked many times why I don't talk about it. "It's a door that has been closed."
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:34:04 AM EST
When i first got back none of my buddies were around and i really was having some issues adjusting. So i told a story to my Family to vent a bit and guess kind of got lost in space during the process and spilled the beans on more then i should have. When i snapped out of it i realized they were all very uncomfortable and kind of had blank stares. That was the last time i will tell a story to a civy.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:46:25 AM EST
I know a guy who was in Vietnam, I once asked him about his time there, he sort of stared off into the corner and went into some kind of daze, then after a few min, he asked if i wanted to watch the basket ball game and changed the channel.

Later on that day, my mother in law told me he saw/watched alot of his friends get killed over there, I felt really dumb asking him about it after that, I never asked him anything about that again.

But yea, if someone was willing to tell me about action they saw, I would listen!
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:47:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:
I will admit though, I do have a fake story I tell gullible chicks about how I got seperated from my platoon on a foot patrol and had to wear a burka to get back to the FOB, and ended up having my cover blown, and I had to fight until I ran out of ammo, and ended up cutting some alqueda leaders throat from behind with a crude knife I fashioned out of a jagged piece of scrap steel and a piece of my shirt.
The story always varies in one way or another, but they always beleive it (or act like they do) until I say "Nah, just kidding, Iraq is boring as shit."


Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:47:28 AM EST

Originally Posted By UNIT6639:
I know a guy who was in Vietnam, I once asked him about his time there, he sort of stared off into the corner and went into some kind of daze, then after a few min, he asked if i wanted to watch the basket ball game and changed the channel.

Later on that day, my mother in law told me he saw/watched alot of his friends get killed over there, I felt really dumb asking him about it after that, I never asked him anything about that again.

But yea, if someone was willing to tell me about action they saw, I would listen!


You saw the "thousand yard stare."
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 4:58:32 AM EST
My father was in Vietnam and almost never talked about his experiences there. He still doesn't.

As a kid growing up I just knew my old man was in the Army. I happened to find old pictures in our basement and pulled them out being that I was curious.

It was pictures he had taken while there and I saw some pretty interesting stuff. Never asked him about it though.

I don't think people understand stuff that goes on (me included as I was not there) and when killing and death come up being that its a war some folks just can't handle it.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 5:02:12 AM EST
I love hearing those stories.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 5:05:38 AM EST
You just need to judge you audience a little bit. There are non vets out there that would love to hear your stories.

My Dad is a Korean War vet and I love to here his stories. Unfortunatly he only tells the same few stories over and over. Every once in a while I hear a new one slip out and I'm all ears. I wish there was some way to download his memories.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 5:07:26 AM EST
I stay away from almost all stories about it, even the funny ones now. (The ones I think are funny don't usually make people laugh.)
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 5:11:13 AM EST
[Last Edit: 7/22/2008 5:14:27 AM EST by Maxwell71]
I just say that it was what it was.
no one I know asks me about it and I only talk to people that know what I am talking about.
If your friends ask you any thing about being there then get better friends.
Link Posted: 7/22/2008 5:23:22 AM EST
I hope I am not off the mark here. I have been dealing with some nasty combat experiences for many years. The first thing to remember is that the need to talk about or relate to someone an experience like the one you experienced is neither good nor bad.

There are many reasons for talking about it and in the right condition among the right people it can be a good thing. You might find yourself wathing the news about the war , watching the history channel about wars or just reliving the experience. I'am not a professional but you might want to ask someone (like at the VA) what "mastering" means.

Enough said, but I will leave you with two pieces of advice. Go to a professional (VA again) don't wait if you are having even the smallest problem with people around you. It took me 25 years to get to a doctor and I am glad I went.

Finally don't let your war experience define your life. It will if you don't take care of yourself. It matters more to you than anyone is ever going to be able to understand and it has changed your life. You won't ever experience it again. Telling about it, thinking about it and watching movies about it are as close as you can get.

Sorry, one more thing. It is important to sort this out or you will have trouble enjoying a meaningful relationship with anyone.

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