Monique Hassan is a Signal Corp veteran of the United States Army out of North Carolina. She is also a writer who specializes in Islamic/spiritual psychology and a patient advocate in behavioral health. Cult of Americana invited Monique to give her unique perspective on service, in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Some soldiers want to go to war, it is what they live for and they train hard. I remember an overly eager soldier telling me “don’t kill one before I do” as if he wanted to take a life. I could never understand that mentality. Others are terrified, but they must do their duty.

Soldiers are deployed for a year, an entire year away from their children and their families. The soldiers often live in stressful and chaotic situations, while the family wakes up everyday hoping they don’t get a bad phone call or knock on the door. They just never know if their soldier will make it back home or not. They have to show strength and support when they get the chance to do a phone call, but inside their hearts are breaking and they are lonely. Divorce rates are high in the military and they all know it. Not every family can handle the constant loneliness from field time, deployments, and late hours.

Dangerous situations and witnessing horrific traumas are a part of war. Some soldiers handle this as best they can, others suffer greatly and never recover. Post traumatic stress disorder is very real for many veterans and is life threatening.

I will never forget the crying mother I saw one day outside of company headquarters. I didn’t know her son personally, but she touched all of us.

Her 18-year-old boy was killed when his Humvee hit an IED (improvised explosive device). She had decided to fly to Germany to meet the people of his company. Her son lost, her baby boy, yet she stood in front of all of us with tears in her eyes telling us how proud she was of her son and to never forget him. Rest in peace Private First Class Edwards.

Taken from the Fallen Heroes page:

“”Hey bro, it’s me. I struggle every day with what happened. You were a great soldier and a great friend. I am sorry it took so long to put something down for you but it has been hard. I just want your friends and family know that if I could have taken your place I would. I hope one day I can come visit you and talk about it. You are missed and will never be forgotten. B.R.O. For life Charlie rock. G6 out.”
-Spc Deller James A. of 410th C.A. Battalion El Paso Texas.

Some soldiers are so excited for their discharge date, yet many of them come running back to the military after some time in the civvie world. Soldiers are used to a strict lifestyle where you are given orders on everything ranging from what time you wake up to the clothes you wear every day. Independence and choice are not typical variables in the military lifestyle.

Veteran Sits Besides a Train

A soldier reminisces at the Illinois Railway Museum on Memorial Day, May 31, 2010. COA Instagram

The military lifestyle is full of aggression, loud voices, and challenges. This type of structure is great for unity, but when a soldier leaves this structure everything falls apart. They must break out of this hive mentality and adapt to a different world. Despite the many voices saying HAPPY VETERANS DAY, those voices seem dimmer when the Veteran is struggling to find a job or find adequate healthcare. Too many soldiers that were willing to die for their country are now sitting on a street curb with a cup begging for change.

What does Veteran’s Day mean for me?

When asked this question I have to pause and think, I feel a slight lump in the back of my throat and certain words come to mind to me. Brothers and sisters in arms. I will not get political in this, but I will say I don’t support everything our government does, yet I stand by my brothers and sisters. Soldiers do not make command decisions, they do not necessarily understand the larger picture of what they are doing, they are as we called it “a lean, mean fighting machine” and they obey orders. If someone has a problem with the actions of our military or the government then take that to the government, not to the soldiers. The majority of the soldiers I knew believed in the concept of freedom and liberating the oppressed, they believed in being a force for good. Their intentions are noble and their hearts often feel heavy with the weight of all they see. I am not exaggerating when I make the statement: we were prepared to give our life to protect yours. Whether it was a veteran that went to war or not, the intention and the heart was the same.

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