Upon return, I landed back in the USA, since I was a medical PROFIS (professional filler system), I went back to my hospital position almost immediately. I say “almost” because I flown back CONUS on New Year’s in 2011. This was prior to DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) repeal, and, in a clandestine operation, for the time, I planned to meet my partner for New Year’s. We had planned to drive from Ft Benning, GA to Atlanta to take in the New Year at the fancy “W” Hotel with champagne and other activities. A series of sand storms and other bad weather delayed my flight, but, a day late, we celebrated my return to American soil in style.
Now, after about 5 years since I have returned from deployment, ISIS/ISIL controls portions of Iraq. The New York ran a shocking video of when ISIS captured where I had spent my time, at Camp Speicher, outside Tikrit, Iraq. The chilling story and video displayed how ISIS forces captured Camp Speicher, at this point a post of the Iraqi military. The story and video showed how Shia recruits were executed en masse. The images were shocking but even more shocking were what I recognized as where I had lived and worked during 2010. The same place where I had been was shown with black flagged fighters driving up to Hesko and T-wall barriers. Around the same time, the New York Times also ran an editorial linking the disheartened and dejection of Vietnam Vets to melancholic feelings of GWOT Vets, and I will say for me this rang true-brought into hyperfocus by watching ISIS storm the compound where I once worked.
In writing this, it has reminded me of many things forgotten. It seems like such as long time ago, even those as I pen this, it is 5 years ago. As I allow my mind to go back, I can see it and feel it in my mind’s eye. It feels like so long ago, and so much has happened to me since then. I was such a young psychiatrist then, just a year out of residency. And, so much has happened since then, to me and the situation. There are no more troops in Iraq, and my life has changed dramatically since repeal of DADT. It is very strange to let my mind wonder to those days of a young psychiatrist heady and on deployment. I see myself now as young naive, but dedicated, and just really trying my best.