Ever since I was a kid, I was always interested in guns and explosions. I would watch every war movie my mom would put on for me and just stayed fixed with my eyes dazing into the screen. My mom would think I was weird because instead of watching cartoons I would be watching all that. I knew that when I was older I would go into the army or the marines–they were my idols, my heroes!
When I was a kid, I had a huge collection of like 3000 toy WWII U soldiers and I would fight them against the “German” soldiers. I used to say I would give anything to be a part of WWII and give them a little taste of Angel! As the years went on, my interest in the army grew bigger and bigger.
Finally, when I was a junior in high school I saw an army recruiter during lunch, he was in uniform looking like a person with much respect and courage. I went straight over there to talked to him about joining. He said he would give me a call next year when I was a senior because I was still a junior, so we left it at that. I was kind of bummed that I had to wait another year.
My sister is a very short girl that looks like she can’t even hurt a fly, but she beat me to the Army and went first because she is my older sister. My sister was 18 when she joined and left right after high school. When she came back from deployment in Iraq, oh man she could kick my butt if I got her mad, but she would do it just playing around. My sister became my idol now, I wanted to be just like her. We had a strong bond before she left, but everything changed when she came back from the army.
She was quiet now, more serious. When my dad would try to make her laugh, she would just smile but then be very serious again. One time, when it was 4th of July, we took her out to the fairgrounds to see the fireworks. It was a bad idea because each bang of the firework seemed to upset her, she wasn’t doing too well with those big bangs. I think it would remind her of the bombs that would go off in Iraq and bring her bad memories back. I felt bad because that was my sister, God knows what happened to her over seas and I wasn’t there to protect her.
So my parents never liked the army after what happened to my sister, they disliked anything that had to do with war and military. So when my mom found out I wanted to leaving too, she started crying and told my brother-in-law, who also went to the army and is married to my sister, so that he could talk to me because I wouldn’t listen to my mom or dad, the recruiters had washed my head big time.
One night, when we were having dinner, he called me outside to talk. My brother-in-law is a big buff guy so it was a trip what he wanted talk to me about. He started talking to me how what I was planning on doing was a not a good idea, that I should stay in agriculture with my dad and help make his company grow. I respect my brother-in-law a lot and when he was talking to me it looked like he wanted cry. He’s a scary big guy that looks like he would never cry. I told him, damn is it that bad? He said, “what really screws you up is that you become like brothers with all the soldiers there and when one gets killed you’re just filled with so much anger and you feel like it was your fault.”
He gave me an example. He said that in Iraq, his best buddy and he went in a truck and they went to check a gas tank where the trucks filled up. Out of nowhere an RPG hit them and he was knocked out. He tried to reach for his buddy to see if he was still ok and grabbed his leg and tried to pull him towards him, but when he looked up he saw that it was just his leg from his knee down and his buddy was gone. That’s the kind of thing he said really messes with your head, when you lose your best friend like that. I still really respect him for what he did and my sister also.
The Army Examiner’s website says that 1 in 5 soldiers that are returning home from the battlefield are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression. The United States Army is placing a greater emphasis on soldiers’ mental and emotional health and well being, especially after combat. Some soldiers find that they begin using alcohol to deal with the pain of the experiences they’ve encountered. Graphic scenes of death, violence, and carnage are often a reality for those in combat, and it can be overwhelming for the mind to deal with the pain, loss, fear, and horror, just like my sister has gone through. Sleeplessness, insomnia, and anxiety are a few of the early symptoms that signify a soldier is suffering from PTSD or depression.
Now that my sister and my brother in law gave me their opinion and their personal experiences of what happened in the army, I’ve changed my mind now. I’m just going to stay with my dad and help him in his agriculture company. I will major in Chemistry or Pomology. To teens that don’t think straight and think going into the army may be the easy way, my advice would be to think twice about your choices and really look into on what they could do to your life. If you really want to save lives and be a hero, the military is not the only option, you could be a doctor, or a firefighter.