Section 8- refers to a category of discharge from the United States military for reason of being mentally unfit for service. It also came to mean any serviceperson given such a discharge or behaving as if deserving such a discharge (as in the sentence “He’s a Section 8”). The term comes from Section VIII of the World War II-era United States Army Regulation 615-360, which provided for the discharge of those deemed unfit for military service.- wikipedia
Section 60- Section of Arlington National Cemetery set aside for the fallen of Iraq and Afghanistan War.
When you come back you are section 8 or section 60. This a sentiment I have been coming across lately. I find it with an incredible feeling of loss mixed with that feeling you get when you taste your own blood (the one that wants to return fire).
We come home. We are phenomenally screwed up. No one will ever deny that. Part of you goes away or gets locked up or dies over there, other wise you were incredibly lucky or you have your head in the sand. When you come home its a fight, a battle, a war. But that my friends we are uniquely equipped for. We know war, we know attrition, we have survived it once and can again. I find that those of us not far removed from the truest most pure form of the fray, look at others just entering it with a sense of they won’t make it, because I barely made it through that part. Well my friends that is bullshit.
You give advice, directions when necessary, you help them avoid those potholes, you talk them through it. You show them where to go and show them how to recharge. You don’t abandon, you dig in, you show them how to build a better freaking foxhole. You talk about the issues that are bothering them, you remember how to listen. You let the kid talk it out and you never make it sound like everybody else has gone through it. Their fight is unique, their pain is theirs not yours. Who the hell are we to think so much of ourselves to turn around and look at the new ones coming through the meat grinder and shake our heads and say they will never make it. They are us and we them, we have just done it longer.
A unit came home recently here in Houston. If this may find them, here are my words of what worked for me, I dare not call it advice or directions. First and for most, look around, the wife, the husband, the girl or boyfriend, the kids, mom and dad, the family, they are here not in some email or some picture they are here. Curb your shit storm for a second and appreciate the fact of where you are and who is happy to see you. Second breathe, no bullets, no bombs, no ill-intent, no hands to watch, no CP’s to call in, chill. Sit outside, quietly and don’t move for a while and just exist. Have some fun. Avoid talking about it at first, when you come home, its about being home not about what happened over there. There will be time to process it in the weeks to come but for now, talking about it in excess will be equal to going back there. When you do decide to talk about it, choose the right audience. Lessons learned about the internal stuggle this far: You did your best, and more than anyone could have ever been capable of doing, they do not blame you. Your mission now is to live life to the fullest possible, because your life is no longer your own. Inevitably, someone paid the ultimate sacrifice, or you were unable to save them or protect them, they do not blame you and you shouldn’t yourself. Live theirs and yours as best you can. Give back, the single most therapeutic thing I have found was helping other veterans and then just trying to help all others I could. We are built stronger and meant to last longer, it is not fair that we keep our strength to ourselves. As you help them you heal yourself. When it comes time to talk about it, find the right vet to talk about it with. I say veteran because, in my humble opinion we are the only ones who will ever get it, and will know something more to say than “wow”. You have been through hell, it takes a while to set down your shield, this is nothing to be ashamed of. I was a sergeant on active duty, a supposed tough guy, and I got blown up a lot. But when the guys started taking their own lives I started talking. The only dishonor I have ever felt for speaking about my struggle was that I hadn’t done it in time to may be have helped another. If you judge me for who I am and how I have dealt with this, you are a coward and probably feel the same things. Speak up when you are ready and if you ever have a problem with someone giving you hell about it, you let me know.
We do not come home section 8 or 60. We come home tired, wounded, and victorious, I will break the man’s jaw who says otherwise. For the fresh returned, focus, you are not bullet-proof. Stay safe, ask for help, be humble. For the salty ones, stay in the fight if for nothing else but to help the new ones fresh into it. For everyone else, be easy.
For those new to the fray if you need something, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org