Come To Iraq

Yesterday I noted an invitation to young people to come to Iraq. The Zeal & Activity blogger made the case that it was fascinating, noble, and not bad eating.

I raise the matter again because I was talking this afternoon with a young (well..not quite as old as I anyway) man who's recently changed jobs after close to six years working for the National Guard doing their PR work and putting out their magazine. He's now doing roughly the same job for some trade organization and he was saying he doesn't think he'll stick around long because even though it's the same work, it doesn't seem important.

Even more interesting is that his best writer is a former National Guardsman who toured in Iraq and quit his job (at a local newspaper) when he'd been home three months because he just couldn't bear the "smallness" of it. He's started his own business since. My friend said that was a common experience among the Guardsmen he knows who've come back from Iraq --many of them get depressed not so much because they were traumatized by their war experiences, but because they can't bear to go back to desk jobs and listening to colleagues bicker over who did or didn't scrape out the coffee pot after doing something meaningful where lives and liberty were on the line. A lot of them apparently come back, quit their jobs and become entrepreneurs.

Isn't that fascinating? My friend was in no way denying that some folks are traumatized by war, nor denying that PTSD exists or that the Armed Forces ignored it as a problem for awhile. But we're so used to hearing about the poor, victimized Guardsmen sucked from their regular lives for prolonged tours of duty, it's good to remember that's not the whole story. I remember on Memorial Day catching the tail end of a story in which a Guardsman who'd marched in our big parade was asked if he resented the 2nd tour of duty he was about to be sent for. His answer was that he was proud of what he'd achieved, that the experience had changed him for the better, and that any time he was in Iraq, that was one other soldier who wasn't, so he was proud.

Nice, no? I'm not suggesting we ought to launch wars just to give men something to do, but in the quest to make sure no one ever dies or get hurt, I think we forget that the human heart (and forgive me, Ladies, particularly the man's heart) longs to have something worth giving its all for. I wonder if a correlation could be found between Armed Forces recruiting and vocations recruiting? I mean a literal correlation of numbers. I suspect that in a democracy, there is either a culture of sacrifice and self-donation or there isn't, and where there is disrespect for the military, there is no great thought for missionaries either.