Kevin Leavitt wrote:
When solidiers in combat detach themselves from the emotional aspects of violence and fighitng and shutdown in order to survive, they deal with a multitude of feelings and issues afterward that they must resolve. Lynn can comment more on this from a psychological standpoint than I.
I can comment on this from a psychological standpoint also, though I'm neither a PhD nor PsyD nor LCSW. Since I was a kid in my boy scout times, my dad took me to airshows frequently. I loved sitting in F-16s, A-10s, walking through C-5 Galaxies, and even examing munitions such as 500 and 1000 lb. bombs, sidewinder missles, and the A-10's ridiculously awesome 30mm gun. I had many interests growing up, but becoming a fighter pilot was a big dream. I attended a program called the "Summer Scientific Seminar" at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs during summer vacation after 11th grade. That was so inspiring, that I decided to pursue application.
After interviewing with the panels of Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack, I interviewed with Representative Peter Deutsch. All three interviews went well, but facing Deutsch's three-person panel, a man asked me, "[I'd like to give you a case scenario. Let's say you're flying over a target with orders to bomb it, and you realize on approach that it's a school full of children. What would you do?]" I said, "I'd call back." He said, "You can't call back." I said, "I would follow orders and bomb the target then later try to somehow deal with the fact that I killed innocent people." I got the nomination and received an appointment to the Academy. It just never had sunk into me how lethal and serious of a profession the military truly is. It tore me up inside, because I wanted to be a hero and fly fighter jets so much and for so long. I fell into a deep depression that lasted months, thinking--but not feeling--hope that I'd wake up happy one morning. Two weeks before it was time for me to report, as I had promised I would, I knew there was no way. Getting there and having upperclass cadets in my face screaming at me and all, I would've been on the next plane back home.
Simplicity, Complexity, oh what a Tragedy,
Reality, Insanity, Strange Normality