Why Not Be the best?
by Kyle Fairchild
I had very little knowledge about what the Marine Corps was about, and what exactly they did. I had no idea that they are considered the toughest military branch in America. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It has to be partially the reason for how I am today.
My decision to join the Marine Corps was pure impulse. My oldest friend, Mike Pounds, joined right after we graduated High School. I did not think even once about joining any branch of military. I honestly thought Mike was a little ludicrous for joining the military.
Mike got back from boot camp sometime in October of 2008. He and I met up one day while he was home, and ended up stopping at Starbuck’s and talked for a little while. Sitting there in the café, Mike wearing freshly ironed green pants, polished black dress shoes, and a green wool knit sweater. He looked so professional and proud of the uniform that he was wearing. Then there was me in ragged jeans and a sweatshirt. I felt as if I shouldn’t be seen with him. I probably looked like an embarrassment.
We began to talk about the Marine Corps. I asked him questions. A lot of questions. When they were established? What makes the Marine Corps different from the Army? I asked him questions about boot camp. What was it like? Did you get yelled at a lot? Was it tough? I concluded my spree of questions with, “Why did you pick the Marine Corps and not some other military branch?” Mike, answering my questions so perfectly like he was a recruiter trying to recruit me, responded, “Because the Marine Corps is considered the toughest armed force America has. Why not be the best?”
Two hours had passed, and within those two hour, I decided that the next the day I was going to go talk with a recruiter and see what I had to do to so I could enlist in the United States Marine Corps.
Four years have passed since I decided to join. I have been to Afghanistan, and had witnessed horrific scenes of people dying. My second and final deployment was a Marine Expeditionary Unit or MEU. I was stuck on a ship, the U.S.S. Mesa Verde for year, but got to see amazing sites, like the island of Crete, Greece; Africa, Spain, Italy. I saw more of the world in a year than some in a lifetime. However, the images from Afghanistan that I saw, still see, and will remain to see are imprinted in my mind for as long as I live. Because of those images and the effects that they took on me, I had to seek therapy for a short time while I was still in the Marines. I was in therapy from January until May when I left for my second deployment. I learned useful techniques to control anxiety, and anger. They ended up being extremely helpful.
October 22, 2012 was a very joyous day for me. I got off of active duty, and came back home to Ohio. It just so happens to be the same day I got my very first speeding ticket.
I moved back in with my parents. It was quite the adjustment to get used to. I started getting angry at small incidents again, but because I knew what to do I was able to control it a little more. The way my therapist told me to calm myself is, I would take deep, slow breathes until I felt calm. The human body can only physically feel one emotion at a time, so by taking deep breathes it slows down the heart, calming me down, and keeping me from being angry. I became really good at controlling my anger, and keeping it pushed back. It was like I had this incredible power, and it was an incredible feeling. I felt invincible.
A few months ago, I started thinking about why I was getting angry so easily, and I could never figure it out. I could never think of what had made me so mad. I started to get upset after getting mad. I was getting aggravated with how angry I would become, and how quick it would happen, and the fact that I couldn’t think of why I was angry just made me even more upset. I began thinking about my life prior to the Marine Corps, and comparing it to my life now. I rarely got angry before the Marine Corps, and when I did, it only lasted a few minutes at the most. With this new realization, it was apparent that the reason for all of my issues, that I have been struggling with, was caused by the Marine Corps. That’s when my new founded mindset started. My new outlook on the Marine Corps.
The anger continued, and I continued living with it, but something new happened. The anger started to become rarer, and shorter; however, getting upset afterwards continued, and grew into a depression. GREAT! Now I was fighting depression alongside anger. If I got angry over something, my whole day was ruined. The anger would leave just a quick as it came, but the depression lasted longer. Sometimes all day.
A month ago; however, I made the change to vegetarianism. Mainly because I was curious to see if I would enjoy it, and I do. Although, something else happened. I stopped getting angry. I was no longer having anger issues. Interesting? I thought so too. I was going strong, and while I was living my life as a vegetarian, I continued pondering as to my views on the Marine Corps, or the military in general.
Prior to the Marine Corps I had issues with killing. After all, it says in good book “Thou shall not kill.” I asked my preacher several questions throughout growing up, and my high school days. One question that really stands out, that I had completely forgotten until the other day, was “Is war a sin”? If we are not supposed to kill one another, why would war be alright?
That had to be it. I was apparently never a supporter of war or any form of violence. War. War was the reason for the issues I deal with now. My “PTSD attacks”. The acts of hate, and violence that I had witnessed had broken my spirit, and has caused me to have this inner struggle, that I did not even realize was going on. This battle inside is what makes me angry and depressed extremely too quickly.
I have been trying to live a life with no violence, no hate, and no Marine Corps, but filled with peace, love, and laughter. In order to do so, I had to think long about the Marine Corps and what they have done for me. The only thing I can think of, is it made me grow up. Nothing else good came from me joining the Marine’s. I have pushed the Marine Corps aside. Trying to move on with my life without being associated with them. If I continue being associated with the Marine Corps, and continue to talk about it, how am I fully living a life without violence? The Marine Corps IS violence, and IS war. That is; after all, the reason they were established.
The battle I now struggle with is not just trying to better myself from PTSD, but figuring out exactly where I stand on supporting the troops. I know that peace will never exist. At least not in my life time, and I know that the only way to get across to some people is to take action. War really should be and is the final answer to solving disagreements across the globe. I don’t support the killing of people, whether friendly or foe. I just wish I held on to that belief a lot stronger before I enlisted.