Why Veterans Miss War

07.02.18

by Kim EvensenFounder of Brothers

Why Veterans Miss War

“Civilians don't miss war. But soldiers often do. Journalist Sebastian Junger shares his experience embedded with American soldiers at Restrepo, an outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley that saw heavy combat. Giving a look at the "altered state of mind" that comes with war, he shows how combat gives soldiers an intense experience of connection. In the end, could it actually be "the opposite of war" that soldiers miss?”*Sebastian Junger A couple of months ago I watched Sebastian Junger’s TED talk about why veterans miss war. In his talk, he shares thoughts and insight that I, unless I’d hear his TED talk, wouldn’t have thought about. The key question he asks is: how can so many veterans possibly miss something so terrible as the war? Junger believes that they miss the brotherhood. Imagine a group of soldiers in a combat in a foreign land. They’re far away from home, they’re far away from safety, and they know that their lives are in constant danger. And what they see and experience is nothing less than traumatic.They know that if they want to survive, they better stay together and help each other. There is no room for selfishness. Their physical bodies and their mental and emotional capacity is tested to the limit, and the nightmare they find themselves in, somehow forces them to get closer. What they see is too heavy for them to bear on their own, and they seek closeness and comfort from the ones they are with. ...It’s quiet right now, but gunfire and bombs might go off in the next minute. You can feel the tension. And the only ‘security’ you have - is each other. In a situation like that you couldn’t care less about “what’s manly and what’s not manly’. Leaning on your brother’s shoulder would be the most natural thing to do. Pouring out your heart and tears to your brother would feel nothing less than necessary. You somehow realise what really matters, and what doesn’t. And then the war is over.You go home. Home to your family. Maybe you have a wife and kids. And you finally get back to your ‘normal life’. The scars that the war has given you should make you never want to go back. But still a part of you want to… You miss the brotherhood.What is going to ‘force you’ to get closer to the people in your life when there’s no danger around you? Suddenly, you don’t “need” closeness like you used to. Or at least you don’t have an excuse to need it.According to Junger, many veterans end up missing the deep connection they experience during the war. Not having this deep connection anymore is a loss. And with loss comes grieving. I’ve never been in a war myself. So I cannot possibly relate to those who have. But I do have a strong feeling that it can be easier to develop a strong brotherhood when in a crisis, than when not.During a war you have to trust each other. You have to think about the other, and even risk your life to make sure that your friend can keep his. But after the war - the ones you’ve connected so deeply with might either be gone or live far away. And the friends you have that hasn’t been in the war haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced. So will they ever understand you? Will they reach out to you when you need it? Will you ever be able to feel that strong connection again - knowing that someone’s got your back. Knowing that someone would lay their life down for you? It surely awakens something in me, writing about this stuff. And honestly, I don’t think a brotherhood like that is impossible to get outside the war zone. It can be hard to find, but I don't think it's impossible.

Why Veterans Miss War

07.02.18

by Kim EvensenFounder of Brothers

Why Veterans Miss War

“Civilians don't miss war. But soldiers often do. Journalist Sebastian Junger shares his experience embedded with American soldiers at Restrepo, an outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley that saw heavy combat. Giving a look at the "altered state of mind" that comes with war, he shows how combat gives soldiers an intense experience of connection. In the end, could it actually be "the opposite of war" that soldiers miss?”*Sebastian Junger A couple of months ago I watched Sebastian Junger’s TED talk about why veterans miss war. In his talk, he shares thoughts and insight that I, unless I’d hear his TED talk, wouldn’t have thought about. The key question he asks is: how can so many veterans possibly miss something so terrible as the war? Junger believes that they miss the brotherhood. Imagine a group of soldiers in a combat in a foreign land. They’re far away from home, they’re far away from safety, and they know that their lives are in constant danger. And what they see and experience is nothing less than traumatic.They know that if they want to survive, they better stay together and help each other. There is no room for selfishness. Their physical bodies and their mental and emotional capacity is tested to the limit, and the nightmare they find themselves in, somehow forces them to get closer. What they see is too heavy for them to bear on their own, and they seek closeness and comfort from the ones they are with. ...It’s quiet right now, but gunfire and bombs might go off in the next minute. You can feel the tension. And the only ‘security’ you have - is each other. In a situation like that you couldn’t care less about “what’s manly and what’s not manly’. Leaning on your brother’s shoulder would be the most natural thing to do. Pouring out your heart and tears to your brother would feel nothing less than necessary. You somehow realise what really matters, and what doesn’t. And then the war is over.You go home. Home to your family. Maybe you have a wife and kids. And you finally get back to your ‘normal life’. The scars that the war has given you should make you never want to go back. But still a part of you want to… You miss the brotherhood.What is going to ‘force you’ to get closer to the people in your life when there’s no danger around you? Suddenly, you don’t “need” closeness like you used to. Or at least you don’t have an excuse to need it.According to Junger, many veterans end up missing the deep connection they experience during the war. Not having this deep connection anymore is a loss. And with loss comes grieving. I’ve never been in a war myself. So I cannot possibly relate to those who have. But I do have a strong feeling that it can be easier to develop a strong brotherhood when in a crisis, than when not.During a war you have to trust each other. You have to think about the other, and even risk your life to make sure that your friend can keep his. But after the war - the ones you’ve connected so deeply with might either be gone or live far away. And the friends you have that hasn’t been in the war haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced. So will they ever understand you? Will they reach out to you when you need it? Will you ever be able to feel that strong connection again - knowing that someone’s got your back. Knowing that someone would lay their life down for you? It surely awakens something in me, writing about this stuff. And honestly, I don’t think a brotherhood like that is impossible to get outside the war zone. It can be hard to find, but I don't think it's impossible.