Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hearing from a Soldier in Iraq - A Response to Last Week's Posting

After I posted the article last week about West Point graduates leaving the Army, the posting elicited a heart-felt response from Iraq. This comment was offered anonymously by a West Point grad currently serving as an Infantry Platoon Leader in Baghdad. Since many readers of The White Rhino Report may not have had a chance to read this comments, I offer them below for your consideration.

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We're getting out because we have no life outside of the army. West Point wasn't much of a social life, now the army, even when we're home we're gone 3 to 4 months of the year that we're back at base training at NTC, JRTC, and other various locations. Army posts aren't exactly located at the most prime locations for the most part. Fort Polk doesn't have many places for social interaction.

And now, I can plan on being deployed for 15 months with a year back home, of which I'll be spending 3 to 4 of those 12 months training in the middle of nowhere with my guys. The only saving grace of the army is the intrinsic rewards. I realize that being an infantry platoon leader in combat will most likely be the most rewarding, challenging exciting job I will ever have. Leading young men in combat, seeing how the civilians in Baghdad react to us. Being able to make a bigger difference in this world than 99% of all Americans my age group is very rewarding. However, there are very few extrinsic rewards for being in the army. We live by army posts in less than desirable locations, I hardly ever get to see my family, there are very few perks to being an officer in the army(no O club, no real special status in society(I could have gone to law or medical school and both those professions seem to get more respect and perks than being an army officer), substandard on base housing, if even available, the vast majority of the population doesn't care about the sacrifices we make(people in the 20-30 year old demographic don't give a shit for our sacrifice, except those with friends or family in the miltiary, and many have told me that I'm a sucker(which I kind of take as a compliment) for making so many sacrifices for our country and getting so little in return, the only people who give us the respect I feel all soldiers deserve is men and women over 40 from what I've seen, which feels good but it would be nice if 24 year old women felt the same way, I get paid about half what I could as a civilian and work twice as hard under substantially harsher working conditions(this is probably the least important factor, at least for me)and those who are in charge of us have never really shared the sacrifices that all soldiers are being asked to make on a continuous basis.

I figure all soldiers who have done a combat tour or even served a day in uniform have done more for their country than about 97-98% of this countries residents ever will, so after serving our country for a certain amount of time(both in combat and at home training others) why shouldn't we be allowed to get out and live our lives for ourselves. Live where we want, get paid what we can, and live under much easier conditions. The day when my largest concern is the high price of car insurance(or whatever crap normal people worry about) and not getting shot in the head by a sniper will be a pretty good day. If I get killed tomorrow in the streets of Baghdad I feel like the only people who will suffer or be proud of my sacrifice is my family and friends. It's not like my parents have another son, and to the majority of the people in the US, I'll just be another number(except to those Americans who have a family member in the military and a relatively few others who understand the sacrifice), and nobody will even care. Britney Spears 2nd marriage will get way more attention than my death. In today's society, our sacrifice and service isn't as respected or appreciated as I see it should be. You would most likely feel the same way if you came out with my platoon and saw my soldiers on the 20th day of a 30 day clearing operation dodging bullets and still doing whatever is necessary to accomplish their mission and then see the relative apathy I see when we go home.

I apologize if this isn't concise or well thought out but it's been a long day and this is not the most important thing I'm going to do today so it gets less attention.


West Point grad, Infantry Platoon Leader
Baghdad, Iraq

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Soldier,

I want to thank you for your service to our country, and for taking the time to speak to us from your heart.

Readers,

I invite you to use this space to express your support for this soldier and his comrades for their sacrifices.

Al

3 comments:

Mark said...

As a 30-something father of four, I can tell you that I definitely support what you do, and I teach my children that soldiers are heroes and they deserve our respect and thanks!

Shame on those who do not respect our soldiers like they ought!

I thank God for you, Soldier, and I pray you'll continue to be successful. We are all indebted to you! Thank you.

Jacob said...

As a 25 year old, I'd like to state for the record that there do exist twentysomethings who appreciate and respect your sacrifice and service, Soldier.

In gratitude,
Jacob

B4-JEDI said...

I just got back from Ramadi 3 weeks ago. I found your blog while looking for some resume phrases since Im now looking for a new job.

I can understand this guy. There are some depressing days when you realize that the general population has no concept of what is going on and what youre doing everyday. It makes everything worse when the media is so heinous in it's reporting, it looks nothing like what weve experienced.
There are good days in Iraq. I take heart in at least knowing that I DID SOME GOOD. I participated in my own democracy and helped a few others out.Plus I collected warehouse of some proud memories and cool stories to put others manhood to shame.That keeps me warm at night...