An Encounter with a Gulf War Veteran

Me and a buddy were drinking beer outside of a fine establishment the other day. We were just shootin’ the shit in the Florida heat when this older gentleman strolls up and takes a seat with us. We didn’t know him from Adam but he pursued us like we were his long-lost friends. He was probably mid-fifties, greyish, bearded, dirty looking fellow with a stained shirt and a filthy Gulf War veteran hat. I could tell that he lived a rough life.

He broke up the conversation I was having with my buddy and commanded full attention as he talked. He started the conversation out with telling us that he was in the first Gulf War. “Army Airborne” he proudly said, “over 200 jumps.” We told him that seemed cool as hell and he was pleased that we thought so.

You can tell that this war was the highpoint of this man’s life. The integrity in which he assumed was embedded in his soul is solely due to his “patriotism” of fighting in a war. Because of his participation in this perceived honorable service, he is certain that America owes him constant praise, respect and welfare. War turns men into victims. And no matter how many battles a man might win he always comes home beaten. This man, the individual, is dead, but the war thrives deep in him and will never die. He now embodies the persona of a war veteran. Thus the reason he starts conversations with total strangers with that of “his war.”

This was my initial opinion of this guy within the first two minutes.

As the conversation went on, we told him that we were both in the military also. The first question he asked us: “You guys on disability?” We both said we were not. “Awe man, you guys have to get on that shit, its easy man, just go talk to VA, tell em you can’t sleep and you’re all kinds of fucked up, shit man, you’ll get paid for life.” He went on to tell us that “hell, I’m on it, ain’t really got a damn thing wrong with me, either. I told em bastards I’ve got that damn PTS…somthin, whatever the hell that shit’s called.”

As he went on and on about disability, I finally told him that the American people are getting looted enough. The last thing they need today is more people getting “free” money that the government must take from someone else. He retorts that he really didn’t give a shit because he’s a “veteran” and he deserves that loot. “Shit guys, I’ve been shot twice, unluckily, both training accidents, but I still been shot, it hurt like a mufucker too”

Sure buddy.

I just shook my head and took a long tug from my cold beer.

The buzz I was working on was at the beginning stages, but this guy was really fucking it up.

He then went on to talk about the Gulf War that he fought in. He told us he killed a lot of people over there and he didn’t feel bad about it at all. “Shit man, I didn’t lose any sleep over it, still don’t.” I asked him if the reason he didn’t feel bad for invading a country and murdering people was because a politician told him to do it. He said “man it’s either kill or be killed.” He then said he’d rather shoot humans than animals. “Animals don’t try to kill you, people do, and that’s why I’d rather kill people all day than hurt an animal.”

My beer was going down pretty fast and smooth by now.

I knew it’d be foolish to engage this guy in a rational conversation about his unhinged thinking, but I couldn’t help myself. I told him, in a respectful way, that with the kind of mentality he had, he was the perfect cog in the wheel for Washington’s war machine. I told him that he was the textbook candidate for Washington’s Military Industrial-Complex: mindless, robotic, amoral, patriotic, obedient and a blood thirty nationalist. He took this as a compliment.

To these kinds of folks, if you’re not American you are subhuman. This is how they validate a clean conscience whenever they kill someone who was of no threat to them or their country. They get brainwashed by U.S. policy makers into thinking that the people over there are “BAD” and the Americans that are invading their land are “GOOD.” So whatever atrocity they commit or witness is fine because it happened to “bad” people. The policy makers are excellent at forcing military personnel to compartmentalize their morality.

The Soldiers that are coming home from wars with PTSD are mostly those with a conscience that can’t live a normal, civilized life because of the guilt they feel for some of the uncivilized atrocities either seen or committed. This is why the suicide rate among troops is higher than that of them dying in combat.

I didn’t even try to get into it with him about the lies and propaganda that was made in 1990 to get American’s to support his Desert Storm war. I didn’t ask him if he believed young American’s should have died just because Iraqi troops were planning an invasion of Kuwait (This ended up being a lie). I left out the question about if he thought it was alright that Washington’s sanctions in the aftermath of this war resulted in hundreds of thousands of children’s deaths in Iraq. I didn’t remind him that his war cost my parent’s generation $62 billion. I didn’t ask him about the oath he took when he enlisted to defend the constitution and then to turn around and not even question the illegality of waging this unconstitutional war. These kinds of factors never enter into the realm of logical reasoning with people like him. Just following orders.

The proud veteran then proceeded to tell us that he was a “born again Christian.” He said this while I was swigging my beer and it almost came spewing out. I asked him while chuckling, “How the hell can you be a Christian when you just told me you killed a lot of people and didn’t feel bad about it?” I asked him if he felt that killing in the name of Jesus was alright? He broke it down for me theologically and philosophically like this:

“Man, the bible has contradictory statements.”

That’s it? That’s all he had for justifying killing in the name of Jesus or America or whatever feeds his craving for death. I told him he must be one of them Old Testament kind of Christians.

He got up and walked away and intruded in on a table full of pretty girls right next to us.

I didn’t blame him for that move.

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