Learning To Love You More




Assignment #59
Interview someone who has experienced war.

Chris Padgett
Alton, Illinois USA



Interview: Jim-bob in Iraq
Jim-bob had been an outstanding soldier for the four years he had been in the Army. During that time, he developed stress fractures in both legs. The Army physician declared Jim-bob was "non-deployable" due to the severity of these stress fractures. When his Signal Battalion came down on orders for Iraq, Jim-bob presented his 1SG with the letter from the doctor stating his non-deployable status. The 1SG refused to acknowledge the validity of the letter and ordered Jim-bob to prepare for the impending deployment.
When the day arrived for the deployment to Iraq, Jim-bob was forced to march four miles while carrying as much as 100 pounds of combat equipment, despite the doctor's strict order not to march. Much to Jim-bob's shame and humiliation, he was unable to carry the heavy gear and was aided by his fellow soldiers. Jim-bob eventually fell out of the forced-march with tears streaming down his face, both from the extreme pain in his legs and from the raw humiliation of the experience.
Jim-bob's situation did not improve once he arrived in Iraq. He was incessantly lambasted for his frequent trips to see the doctor due to the condition of his legs. The doctors tried without success to send Jim-bob home. After several months of pulling twelve-plus-hour shifts at the guard posts, Jim-bob finally received the word that he was to be sent to the rear to prepare for his medivac out of Iraq. His dream quickly changed to a nightmare when his medivac was routinely denied.
During one of Jim-bob's late-night guard missions, a small child ran up to the gate of the compound. The child appeared frantic, but since Jim-bob had no working knowledge of the Iraqi language, he did not know if the kid simply wanted a companion or was an actual threat. Roused from his slumber, the 1SG ordered Jim-bob to "shoot the mother-fucker!" In total disbelief, Jim-bob stared at the senior NCO. "Can't you do shit right?!" With those words, the NCO raised his rifle and fired two shots - killing the kid instantly. An hour later, Jim-bob was aboard a Blackhawk helicopter being medivac-ed from Iraq.
Upon Jim-bob's return home, he encountered difficulty sleeping, fantasies about inflicting bodily harm to innocent bystanders, and an overall increase in his levels of anxiety. Jim-bob experienced panic attacks while driving that would result in blacking out at the wheel. One such occasion was so severe that he was pulled over by the police and given a DUI citation, even though he had not been drinking. Jim-bob began to have difficulty maintaining his personal relationships; he often went from one girlfriend to the next, unable to wholly commit. He enrolled in college, but found it very difficult to concentrate on the lectures and homework. To help him cope, Jim-bob would self-medicate with copious amounts of alcohol. He decided to go into therapy to help him adjust back to civilian life. Jim-bob attended weekly rap sessions for people with PTSD and was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well as a sleep-aide to rid him of his sleep-anxiety.
Most recently, Jim-bob wound up in a psychiatric ward for three days after an overdose of alcohol and pills (he did not specify what kind of pills). His answer to why he was sent to the psych ward contained only one word: suicidal. (J. Bob, personal communication, March 2, 2007).