Almost everything I own is a result of the war in Afghanistan. My car, my clothing, my guns, my apartment The income I have invested in stocks, and other financial funds are also because of the war. The war made me better. I think it made me appreciate my life, my family and where I came from. Every day I think about how grateful I am for combat, and being in a terrible shit-hole like Afghanistan. I often think, “what am I going to do when I call it quits?”
I have questions about future employment and the mentality that “a warrior never retires”, but taking emotions out of it, financially, I don’t think I can survive. Economically, I cannot survive without war. The most money and financial gains I’ve made are because of war, even in the Balkans, though not considered a hostile area I still continue to grow my finances due to the years of violence which require contractors, to help supplement the nations and NATOs forces.
I wonder constantly about the next step in my life. Some days I think I can fake it. I think I can go back to the United States and put on a charade and make it seem like mentally I’ve adjusted but the question that bugs me is “What am I going to do?” I’ve had thoughts: going back into emergency services, becoming a cop, or finishing school and obtaining a “white collar” style career, but I often wonder if I can succeed in such an environment.
Conflicted areas have served me well. Both mentally and financially, but I am morally conflicted. Does it make me a bad person for wanting more areas of the world to fall into conflict? Does it make me a bad person if I know I can gain meaningful employment in hundreds of war-torn countries? I think what justifies this style of thinking to me, is the fact I know I’m not alone.
Men and women have been contracting since before 9/11. President Clinton had the Balkans and parts of Africa, President Bush had Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Obama brought us into Syria, Libya, and Djibouti, among other smaller conflicts. Each time U.S. troops were on the ground there were plenty of contractors in both combat and logistics roles. Now is it fair to look down on these people because of their constant willingness to take advantage of the world’s misfortune? A lot of these people have built better lives, found purpose, sent kids to college, and used the capital to form businesses in the states. I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of them. The math to me is almost too simple. Use skills that transfer in a para-military setting: check. Sacrifice 3-7 years of my life to gain financial independence and enough money to invest in a business: check.
It’s easy to me. In the states there isn’t a better plan for me, no other place where a young veteran can gain experience, knowledge and money so quickly. Compared to my peers, and despite that fact I only have a liberal arts associates degree, I am well ahead of them financially and it’s all because of war. Each day I work, I see my bank account expand and I think about how the next step for me will be probably in another war-torn country.
To some degree I welcome it. I know if there is a war, I will always have a job and I’ll always see my bank account grow. Does that make a bad person? Maybe, but ultimately I think I’m like any American. Find a passion, something you’re good at, and make it your living.