“I want to be dead with my friends….where the iron sharpens the iron.”-Every Time I Die
I am bearing witness to the end of an era. I have the distinct blessing, or the agonizing misfortune of having front-row seats to the death throes of a creature that has defined a generation. This creature is what my buddies and I refer to as the Global War On Terror (GWOT for short). 13 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and two presidents later, those of us who contributed our very being to this endeavor are left thinking, “What now?”
On May 23, 2013, POTUS Obama declared the GWOT “over.” Just like that. Done. Finished. It felt to my brothers and I, that our purpose in life had just disappeared.
Of course, we knew that there are still things going on in the shadows of foreign policy. Smelly, bearded extremists are still getting shot in the face in far-off lands. But, to the majority of us who had spent our entire adult lives finding, fixing, and finishing, our jobs were apparently over. We had sacrificed marriages, seeing our kids grow up, watching our parents grow old, witnessed our brothers deaths, and lost limbs for a conflict that we didn’t start, but were damn sure going to finish. We had been involved so long that it became us. Sure, some of us got out and made strides in veteran’s advocacy, tactical efficiency and efficacy, community growth, technological advancements, and improving quality of life for the layperson at home (i.e. the Perfect Push-Up). This writing is not for them. This is talking about the guy that has cut his teeth and dodged bullets since he was 18 years old and now has to try to find a place in this world….a world without the GWOT.