They expect you to come back just as you left. Soft and warm, happy and carefree.
Bobby. Not Sergeant.
It’s unreasonable. When someone is on a battlefield for months with nerves and paranoia on high alert for years, how could anyone expect softness and smiles?
You go to places of madness and the insanity follows you home, tainting everything you touch. How is it possible to be as unsullied by evil after mucking it day in and out. Night after night, squinting against the echoes of war, the screams of death, the sight of blood and parts never meant to be seen by the sun.
We call it a war. We should call it by its name. Trauma.
Even so, they don’t understand.
All they see is husks and madmen, roughed and brittle. They see a cost, not an asset. A potential for harm, uncontrollable war machines left to pasture with undulled edges and twitching triggers.
They don’t see us. They see what’s broken in us and many don’t care to help put it back together. The man-child returns an old man with savage instincts. Who will clamp his ears shut against the whistles of bullets and grenades that killed comrades left and right? Who will give absolution against the ghouls and ghosts of those he’s been ordered to slay? Who will stand by him when his world is ashes and death?
Who would even care to understand?