Home... to the Place Where They Belong
He was assigned to an Infantry unit. He said Army life was everything he imagined it would be. His unit had already done a deployment to Iraq and they trained incessantly for the deployment he knew would come. He thrived.
Just weeks after arriving, he celebrated his 20th birthday in the Sandbox smoking cigars and eating birthday brownies from home. Sometimes he drove Humvee; sometimes Bradleys; sometimes he rode; sometimes he gunned; sometimes he walked. They walked a lot.
In the ninth month of his deployment, after surviving more than 25 IEDs, he was wounded by a VBIED and evacuated first to Germany and then to the US for treatment of his head, neck and spinal injuries. While he was in Germany he heard that his battalion had lost 1LT Diaz, and days later his friend SPC Matt Bohling and after that his friend Sgt Benford.
While continuing his recovery, SSgt Schelbert was killed and then, as if to deal one more punch, he lost his friends SSgt Summers, SPC Byrd, SPC Corban, SPC Hardy and SPC Watkins in a single IED attack. The journey of grieving and burying those with whom he served -- trained, ate, slept, joked, fought with --covered here, here, here, here, here, here, here ... and especially here.
The rest of his friends returned from OIF3 in waves. He was returned to his unit... and he re-enlisted...
Although beset by severe and chronic PTSD, he was determined to remain in the Army, do his duty... serve his country. It was not to be.
His buds deployed again but without him... and he began the dismal and nightmarish process of being medically discharged... MEB, PEB, etc. and learned first hand what the news reports said about the Army shortchanging soldiers on disability ratings.
He opted not to prosecute a formal appeal of the PEB decision and accept the initial disability rating... for many reasons -- not least of which were the experiences of other soldiers on medical hold who learned the hard way that if you appeal = you will be punished.
As if that weren't insult enough, Army Transportation is arriving to pack and move their possessions a week before they have to vacate the Army housing (they expect the soldier and his family to sleep on the floor and buy meals out???) and they are being made to leave their Army housing five full days before his orders allow them to leave the base (they were told to get a hotel or bunk with someone else.) I kid you not. I wish I were. Noah and his pregnant wife will sleep on an air mattress on the floor first at their home and then at home of another disabled soldier.
So within a few short weeks, Noah will be medically discharged from the US Army and will no longer be an active duty soldier... he and his bride "M" will make the trip cross-country and will stay with us retired folks until they get a little settled: do the VA thing, enrolled in college classes, look for a job, find an apartment, await the birth of their first child... you know -- get on with life.
So in days when he drives away from his home of the last four years, I will no longer "officially" be a "soldier's mom"-- although I will always be some soldier's mom and will forever be Some Soldier's Mom.
I'm staring out into the night,Trying to hide the pain.I'm going to the place where loveAnd feeling good don't ever cost a thing.And the pain you feel's a different kind of pain.I'm going home,Back to the place where I belong,And where your love has always been enough for me.I'm not running from,No, I think you got me all wrong.I don't regret this life I chose for me.But these places and these faces are getting old,So I'm going home.Well I'm going home."Home" Chris Daughtrey