I’ve never really known how to respond to this question. This is probably the most ubiquitous challenge many Marines face when they come home from a deployment–dealing with the onslaught of self-interested civilians that wouldn’t understand if you said yes or no. A Marine friend of mine (Iraq vet) by the name of Adan Pulido gave me an interesting perspective on the whole thing, to which I agree. To paraphrase, he told me that it puts the veteran in a rather vulnerable position. The answer to this question is giving away a large part of your experience to someone with little to no genuine interest.
If you say yes, they’ll likely write you off as crazy. If you say no, they’ll write you off as unworthy. The question is never in the interest of understanding, but of validating their own expectations for your experience overseas. Even the most feign of interest is secretly a plea to satisfy their own morbid curiosity. Either way, you’re condemned to their standards of what your experience should have been.
Regardless, the obvious insensitivity of the question shows the nature of the average civilian. They don’t care about the war, they don’t care about what actually goes on overseas. They don’t care about counter-insurgency, they don’t care about all the time you spent with the local population or what it meant to you.
They don’t care.
In other news, I apologize for the flaky updates lately. I’m graduating this semester and things are coming to an end here in these final moments. On top of that, I caught some stupid cold and I really wasn’t in a great mood on Tuesday. I need all the time I can get for school right now, but once summer comes along I have a lot of cool stuff planned for Terminal Lance. As well, people have been asking me about the White Donkey. Be patient… All will be revealed in time.