Early 2012, Age twenty-one
One minute I was on the battlefields of Helmand Province in Afghanistan and advancing towards incoming effective enemy gunfire. Then two to three days later I was back at home in a small town called Newport on the Isle of Wight and engaging in a confrontation with a local civilian outside a kebab shop.
Under the influence of alcohol following a heavy homecoming drinking session with a few of my civilians mates, I was now standing toe to toe with a bloke that I had never met before. I didn’t know his background just as he was unaware of my background, for all I knew, he too could have been a veteran. However, having gone six months without a single drop of alcohol, it was safe to say that my mind was completely intoxicated and smoke screened from reality.
Although I fail to recall much from what was said in this heated and drunken dispute, I can remember the chap screaming and shouting in my face:
“You haven’t got a f**king clue what I have been through, what have you done with your life”
Considering what we had just been through whilst fighting in Afghanistan, it was these words that triggered my lost, angry and unstable state of mind into a semi blackout, which in turn led to me spending an uncomfortable night in a police cell. This silly and regrettable incident resulted in me receiving an official caution for assault, which I believe has affected my employment opportunities to this day.
Looking back on things now, five years on from this shameful night, I have been able to come to the conclusion that maybe I was unaware of my unstable frame of mind. I like to think that if I was not under the influence of alcohol on that particular night, maybe I would have dealt with the pointless confrontation in a more professional and mature manner.
Having said this, as you will soon find out in my upcoming blogs about my transition into civilian life, confrontation with civilians has been one of the many hurdles that I have struggled with since leaving the army in 2012.
I feel confident that I have evolved and matured since leaving the army, although it has taken the five years to this day, to find my feet and to find myself.
I believe that in most cases, you as a soldier are consciously aware of who you are prior to deployment, but you have most likely been through some rather traumatic events during your time on operations. Therefore, when you return home from deployments, you may not realise it, but there is a great possibility that you have changed as a person.
Something that I have recently discovered is that it has taken time for me to learn who I have actually become during my time in the army, and that isn’t even half the battle. Once I learned who I had become after Afghanistan, I then had to accept this in order to remould myself into who I am now.
A veteran may experience a few mental challenges below the surface and under the radar.
- Short temper (I like to call this one ‘The Human Hand Grenade’ with a short fuse).
- Lack of patience
- Depression (to the extent of suicidal thoughts)
- Low self-esteem
I have personally struggled with all of these challenges and even today, I sometimes find myself at a brick wall which I have to fight through.
The list can go on and I would like to invite you to add to the list in the comments bellow using your own personal experiences and opinions.
This is just a short blog this week, as I introduce you to my transition from army life to civilian life. Pop back next week as I discuss my transition in more depth.
hank for taking the time to read this blog, I hope to see you next week.