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Notes of a Native Grunt

If there is one certainty in life it is that eventually, we will all die. This could be seen as a great motivator for us to accomplish any and everything we set our minds to, including PTSD. During the course of our lives, we every once in awhile, dwell on that fact. We all wish it will happen the same way - 80 years from now lying comfortably in our beds surrounded by those you love, holding your hands and kissing your forehead as you slowly and painlessly fade out.

For the most part that was my idea of death growing up. None of us, my brothers and sisters who I served alongside, could imagine it any other way. However, the ugly truth about death is how suddenly it can come upon us without warning or mercy. Any human being alive right now could die at any moment, in any place, for any reason. That is number one thing I took home with me from Afghanistan. Despite everything I saw and went through our lives at any moment could be over.

I have killed people. I pointed a weapon and pulled the trigger. Killing in the infantry was different. It was not always close and personal, but when it was, it was brutal and messy.

As a young infantryman death was a part of life. From the time I entered basic training to the to landing in Afghanistan my whole existence revolved around killing the enemy by means of fire and maneuver. Whether that be down in his valley, his village, his poppy fields, caves or tunnels we were going to find and kill him by any means necessary. That was the attitude of every soldier in my unit no matter how young or inexperienced. Despite all this one fact remained for the majority of us death was surreal. One human being dying violently at the hands of another was something we had never experienced or even imagined we would take part in.

Because of all this I try not to think about death.