The media has been covering a few stories lately that has put individuals in our armed forces in a bad light. In every large organization there are bad elements. These are humans. I by no means condone the actions I have been reading about. Just want people to remember the United States Armed Forces is a very large group of people. These stories are just a tiny number in the scale of brave people who serve. I know this because I served & spend a lot of time with people that currently do. I have found a few meat-heads on occasion. Much like the “real” world. But for the very most part they are thoughtful, caring & brave people who stand for something. They stand next to each other when called upon. Now the people that make the called upon decision… Not a fan!
I open my email inbox and this happened…
Subject: Hey From (MAJ)
Hey, you may not remember me but you performed an amazing show at Dogwood Iraq in 2005. Yep, I know it’s been very long time. Since then I’ve been deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and now, I’m back in Afgahnistan for another deployment.
Hope all is going well with you. I have this saying, “You meet people in life for a reason” in most cases it’s just to meet…. but you never forget them. You’re a person I will never forget.
Somehow whenever my mind strays off into the “what I haven’t done, what I don’t have“ … all that just useless way of thinking. The universe sets me straight with how blessed I am. What an amazing life I live. “You meet people in life for a reason” goes both ways. Thank you Major! I also will never forget. I will also never forget this represents who serves our country. Great individuals like the major. I’m not an “armchair quarterback” with opinions achieved by reading & watching the news. I have been there. In the media they say “if it bleeds it leads”. The truth is not as selling. Good people willing to risk their lives for us. Sad that is not a top story daily.
I served from 1990-1995. The 1st Gulf War took place on our watch. That time period defined my life, after having only a slight glimpse into the horrors of war. Since then, I have taken a number of trips back over to bring a little bit of humor to our service members. I feel I have to. I am no longer in, but I still have my duty. I still have my sense of family with those in uniform.
Today I see through the eyes of a thirty-something man, who feels somewhere along the line I got lucky in my youth, like I missed a bullet on my watch. Empathy for our service members past and present is with me constantly. The military is where I became a man. Where I gained the tools to achieve anything I set my mind to. Where I got my very best friends, who remain so to this very day. Individuals who don’t know how to leave you when times seem impossible. Part of me wishes I could stand side by side with our brave service members today, but another part of me would be asking many questions regarding the situation we are currently in. I feel each of those sides has come with age, and my cherished experiences with the type of individuals who would be at my side.
There was a point when I had to take a break from going over. I had seen too much & my mind had to really sort all of it out. I had taken trips every summer to Iraq & Afghanistan starting back in the spring of 2004. Then in August of 2007 I found myself on a ship in the middle of the Persian Gulf – again – this time not a sailor, but a comedian. I was with my great friend and fine comedian Dan Smith, standing on the deck of a Naval LPD Ship, taking in the sunset. I remember he said to me, “This is the same ship you were on when you were here in the Persian Gulf… that is insane! Now you are going to do comedy for these sailors… Do you realize how amazing that is? You must feel so proud Peej.” I replied, ”I’m not, Dan. It’s odd? I feel no pride whatsoever. I feel sad. I was here on a ship just like this one, in this same exact place when I was 19 years old. Young people lost their lives. I am here again at 35 and even more young people are losing their lives? I know I have grown… apparently we haven’t.”
I returned again to entertain our troops and sailors this past Christmas 2009. I know they put the uniform on for all of us faceless, nameless Americans. I know how genuinely special that is. I truly with every fiber of my being thank them and love them! Wherever they go, wherever they are stationed, I will show up with my bag of humor, and, just as important, be here for them when this all hopefully ends. We have to be! God Bless All Who Serve!