Ask a child to talk about his father and he’ll say, “My dad is a hero.” Ask a man to describe his friend and he would tell you, “I haven’t seen him in a while but sure as hell he’s holding guns and bullets.” Ask a woman about her lover and you’ll notice sadness in her eyes as she says, “He’s far away but I’ll always love him.” Ask a mother to enlighten you about her son and she’ll say, “He’s brave but I always pray that he’s safe.” Ask a wife to make a statement about her husband and you’ll see her eyes wanting to shed tears while saying, “I just hope he comes home alive.”

 

These are just few of the statements I always witness in movies, interviews and news on television, books and newspapers. I am writing this out of a certain curiosity; maybe because most films I watch are about soldiers surviving wars and coming home to their families and loved ones. I haven’t realized this until watching 13 Hours movie, one of the latest war movies I've watched, and considering that it was based on true events. In every movie, or in almost all war time movies, members of the army are always portrayed as tough people; those who go through long and exhausting training… endless training. The media let us perceive these kinds of people as bullet-proofed ones. Not just because they wear bullet-proof vests, but mainly because, they are capable of actually running for their lives while it’s raining bullets and grenades (no wonder why they are one of the highest-paid people in the society). Yes, they are trained to do that and they also know how to medicate themselves amidst the crisis, but do these sets of training also teach them how to come home?

 

I cannot exactly tell what happens inside their training barracks because I haven’t been to any of them. Yet most interviews on military world; movies and articles about them, were focused on how hard they were trained just to have the privilege to serve their countries. Yes, they were taught to protect themselves and their brothers on the field, to be able to come home safe; since it’s all about fighting for a better future while surviving the combat at hand.

 

I went through a video on a certain website where a psychologist talks about an experiment on treating soldiers experiencing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). These are the soldiers who have issues like anxiety or unexplained discomfort after a traumatic war experience. I do not remember all the details but their treatment plan worked. The soldiers lived a normal life again yet the scars of the war were still there. Why do treatments come in handy after it affected the host? Why isn’t there any prevention? Can’t they be taught how to avoid these fall outs?

 

The bottom line is they can’t. For sure they have a lot of knowledge in surviving but the mental torture through memories and flashes of cruelty will always be there. They may have the toughest figures but they have vulnerable minds. Physical wounds can always be healed, but emotional bruises can’t. The holes that were left will never be easy to fill. As they finish one assignment and go home, did they really feel at home? Maybe for some, everything is manageable, but what about the other half who had to struggle? Were they taught to come home as a whole?

 

This goes out to all the soldiers who fight courageously; to all my friends who value their country’s honor more than their lives, and even those who passed away fighting for what they believed in. Your families, friends and loved ones are always waiting for you to come home. In the midst of endless wars around the world, you got a lot of bloody orders, but whatever those might be, fight with pride and dignity.

(Photo from an army guy who happened to be my friend, thank you!)

Published by Chiara Marie