Posts tagged operation iraqi freedom
My Issues With Veterans Day: Part 2

Last year I wrote a pretty successful post on My Issues With Veteran's Day.  I'm much more of an honest writer now so here's part 2.


If you know me then you know that I'm not the guy who wears the "Iraq War Veteran" hat or has the "USMC" tattoo on my chest or even discusses my military past with others. I sometimes even go as far as talking to other veterans like I'm not one.  This is fun and interesting for me.

I'm not the guy who posts on facebook about sentimental issues that make people tear up or the guy that pulls out my old uniforms and medals to show off.  

So here lies my issue with Veterans Day:  I am a photographer, artist, teacher, husband, dad, whatever...and I was in the Marine Corps.  But I don't feel like a Veteran most of the time.  I went to Iraq, I have interesting stories but I don't care to talk about them very much.  I have shirts, uniforms, medals and cammies but I'd rather not take the time to show you.  I have friends that tag me in "patriotic" posts but I usually don't engage or respond.  When I meet other veterans I feel disconnected from them and when they start talking about how different civilian life is I just nod my head.  When another Marine says "oorah" to me I feel so awkward. When a stranger says "thank you for your service" I say "thank you for saying thank you" in an attempt to relieve that weird feeling.  

What would happen if we thanked everyone for something they did for a veteran?  What if we just valued humans?  What would be the outcome if we just thanked our spouses or kids like we do veterans?  

Did you know my wife went through hell when I was in the Marine Corps?  And that since then she's managed to survive the backlash of my PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder along with a plethora of other shit? Not just survive but thrive.  Did you know that I treated her really badly when I was in the Marine Corps while at the same time I was doing what most people consider "honorable" and "patriotic"?  Did you know that it's an absolute miracle that she chose to stay with me?  And did you know that she's probably been "thanked" by others around 3 or 4 times in the past 10 years?  Feel free to thank her here.

Did you know that my 2 kids have seen me change dramatically in the past 5 years as I've addressed my Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD? They've been there while I've become obsessed with being an "artist" and "teacher".  And did you know that they've had to deal with my anger, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, overworking and withdrawal?  That they've helped and inspired most of my creative work?  And did you know that they've never been thanked by others for that?

To all the veterans out there I give you mad props.  I just wonder if everybody is being honored on Veteran's Day. 

Iraq portrait photography. the story behind.

I took this portrait while I was in Iraq in 2005.  These are local Iraqis that I worked with everyday.  

They were from a town called Habbaniya.  

In the months that I was there I built some interesting relationships with these guys.  

They all had a story.

One of the greatest lessons I learned being around these folks is that there is literally no difference from one human to another.   We all have families, struggles and passions.  

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Please leave a comment below before you leave. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post.  

If you want to check out some more  of my Iraq portrait photography then read this post:

My issues with Veteran's Day

My Issues with Veteran's Day - Urban Iraq to Urban Durham, NC
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Last year on around Veteran's Day I revealed some of my photos from my tour in Iraq during the 2005-2006 Operation Iraqi Freedom.  

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Since then I have made myself a bit more vulnerable to the world by revealing that I have borderline personality disorder and addressing some of my deepest issues.  

Here's another.

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 When I was "over there" I had a really toxic relationship with one of my superiors. This partly caused by my inability to empathize and partly by the rigid culture of the U.S. military.  

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I recall "exchanging words" on numerous occasions with this guy calling him names that I won't write here.  

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On the last patrol that we went on he got hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) and is now a vegetable (I recently heard that his family and doctors "pulled the plug" though).

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 I cried a lot when this happened because I couldn't take back what I said and did to him. 

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I recently discovered that he was actually in a "traumatic brain injury" treatment facility here in Durham, NC where I live.

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 I considered visiting him but I was pretty scared. 

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LESSON LEARNED: Life's really short. Don't be mean to people. 

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