Back to Blogging

Yeah it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. However, this is me trying to both get back into the habit and letting those who care about me know what’s going on/going through my head.
AFGHANISTAN: So there it is, the big reason and the thing that looms large on my rapidly approaching horizon. I’m going to war and I’m trying to bring my head around all that entails and where I am at presently.
WHERE I’VE BEEN: I think it important to acknowledge what has transpired over the last two years that has lead me to this place both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wish I could say that joining the Army was a good decision. I wish I could say that the two words that I feel define my Army experience up until this point weren’t “disappointment” and “frustration”, but those two words aptly describe the totality of my experience with the Army. (Although additional words such as “loneliness”, “boredom”, and “isolation” come to mind as well.) Not only have I had a job that was unchallenging, (I read over 100 books from the library while in class learning my job and STILL graduated top of my class) but I’ve been apart of a section of the Army that really doesn’t have a mission on the present battlefield. We have air superiority wherever we are and missile defense is an afterthought deterrent in most cases. Even worse have been the commands that I’ve been assigned to. I’ve been in SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense) assigned to a HIMAD (Long Range Air Defense i.e. Patriot) Battalion. Meaning for all of 2011 I was apart of a Battalion that was preparing for a Kuwait HIMAD mission. Which means that being apart of a SHORAD Battery we got tasked with the jobs no one wanted. I’ve been apart of a field mess hall competition detail. I’ve done funeral details. (Which honestly I’ve been honored to participate in, but it wasn’t my “job”.) In all honesty I hadn’t done the job that the Army employed me to do until this year (more than a year since being assigned to FT. Hood) with a deployment to Arizona and now Afghanistan. All the while within these commands I’ve experienced what I have to say is the WORST leadership and management I have ever experienced in my now 34 years and numerous jobs. Narcissistic almost psychopathic leadership intent on control and personal advancement. Ineptitude that almost defies logic. Mass punishment where I’ve been punished even though I didn’t do anything wrong. Superior performance (i.e. PT tests) that went unrecognized. The fact that I was promoted only a month before that promotion would have been automatic, yet had been eligible for promotion for six months previous with an exceptional record. And then there was Arizona…
ARIZONA: How to describe a two month dog and pony show… Living in a gymnasium with 70 other people being forced to be in “uniform” 24/7. Eating (horrible contracted) food that had been left out for four hours every night. The constant frustration of a command that put priority and accolades on the Avenger mission rather than your 24/7 radar mission. Spending almost three months with no time off only to return and immediately begin preparing/training for a nine month deployment to Afghanistan.
WHERE I AM NOW: Honestly I’m done with the Army. Re-enlistment is a personal impossibility for me. I’m ready to be done with this part of my life and move on. Honestly I miss being a civilian. I think back to my apartment in California and my life there and I honestly wish I had never left. This is a burden that I bear every time I wake up at 5am to clean my room for daily inspection and then go to inspect the soldiers I am responsible for. This is what I feel while doing PT every morning. And now I’m going to Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN: I have to say I’m a mixed bag of emotions when looking forward to deployment. On one hand I have to admit that even though I am proud of my prior service as a Marine in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, and will always consider myself a “Marine” first, the fact that my previous enlistment fell between Iraq 1 and post 9/11 Iraq 2 have cast a pall on my personal view of my service record. We are at war and I now have the opportunity to actually serve my country in wartime in a wartime environment. I now have the opportunity of running a tab with my brother, father, grandfathers, and uncles at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). But that does not diminish my trepidation. First there is the “life changing” aspect that I am aware of. I have lived long enough that I know that there are things that change you. One of the things that I’m slowly trying to grasp is that I have already changed. I am no longer the hope filled, faith infused person who left California. For whatever providential reasons God has lead me through a wilderness of disappointment, doubt, loneliness, and frustration. It would be a lie to pretend otherwise. To have experienced the joy and personal satisfaction of attending college at Covenant, only to leave and experience the frustration, alienation, and dissatisfaction with the Army alone would be affecting. To add the experiences that I’ve had over the past two years and already I’m not the same. A part of me is truly fearful that going to Afghanistan will alter me even further. Will I even be “me” a year from now? Or will PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), an injury, or simply the alien experience of Afghanistan change me into something unrecognizable? Moreover there is the pressure of responsibility. I am now in charge of a site in a position that is above my present pay grade. I have to rely on those beneath me to do their job and am responsible for not only their job performance but their health in a stressful environment. This is on top of my own struggles and inadequacies.
If I had to say one thing right now it is that I don’t want to lose more than I’ve already lost over the past three years. I feel inadequate to the task set before me and feel, based on previous experience, set up for failure. Moreover I’m simply tired already, lacking energy to finish well. I WANT to serve with Honor and distinction. I WANT to willingly sacrifice, do well, and come home proud. I WANT to be FAITHFUL. I just fear that who I am will either be lost, or in the end will have little meaning afterward. If the Army has done one thing it’s cause me to lose my dreams. I don’t know who or what I want to be after this, and my greatest fear is that a year from now not only will I still not know how to dream, but that I’ll be paralyzed from dreaming.


3 Responses to “Back to Blogging”

  1. WOW ! I am glad you have this venue to share your struggles , disappointments and frustrations. I can understand the dread and fear of what might come next, not only in the unknown in Afghanistan, but also in your own personal life.

    I lived in a similar “pit”, as I called it for nearly 2 years. As soon as I thought I was making progress, I would slide back down into that pit. It had a hold on me like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.

    I have also learned and realized how much we long to be able to take “some” control of our life.. to have a voice,.. when our life has been turned upside down, and we have not had any control over our circumstances.

    All I can tell you is to cry out to God… to be honest.. as we recently heard in a message.. to open yourself up to HIM…. to ask HIM to be real to you…

    My “cry” for months had been… “have mercy”….

    I will pray that God is very real to you.. gives you hope…

  2. Bruce Young Says:

    Jay, I really appreciate your honest expression of thoughts! You are really open and honest with how you are feeling! I am a friend of your parents and we have met at Ivy Creek Church once so you may not remember me. Susan and I served for 30 years in Japan with MTW and I and all three of our kids graduated from Covenant. What you write about the inner feelings and longings of your heart remind me of all of us. In different ways we are experiencing the reality of our situation in life here on earth. What we long for may be different, but the fact that we long for such things that will bring significance, worth, personal fulfillment, security, point us to the uniqueness of what it means to be humans living under conditions that are imperfect. Our aspirations, longings and dreams make us aware that there should be something more, something better, something that fulfills me on a much deeper level than it does today! And the answer to conflicted feelings of sadness and emptiness is not, “Just wait for heaven where everything will be perfect and right and fair and totally satisfying.” While that is the believer’s bottom line hope that may enable him to bear all things, that hope alone may discourage engagement in the world at hand that we live in today. The calling that God has called us to is connected to the hope we gain from seeing the resurrected Jesus because it confirms to our hearts that physical life both today and in the new earth is important and something to be greatly anticipated. God does not look at our world today as tainted, evil and something to be removed from, but rather as something to engage in even though it is a dim reflection of what it will be when perfected. So whether in the military or work field or full time ministry the calling is the same–that is to enjoy this world for what it is now in light of the hopes of the perfect world and to engage in it where God puts us (for each phase of life he places us in) and by playing our part whether small or big, we are in the flow of history towards the grand end, the rebuilding of a new earth and new heaven. In this process we may find ourselves in places that are sad, lonely, hard, undesirable, but two things He will never remove you from; one, His promised presence and caring heart, two, the hope of a future that will fill the deepest longings of the heart I spoke of earlier.
    In this process which God designs tailor-made plans for every person, it is important to remember nothing is a mistake and there is something to be gained from every situation we find ourselves in. As such, what you experience these next months overseas will change you perhaps more profoundly than if you stayed in more secure, familiar and normal environment, but if you see yourself in His hands and long to fill his plan for you, then your sense of waste, loss, life out of control can be replaced in a more quiet hope for today, tomorrow and beyond. And as sure as Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that the physical world is important and that He is in control so you can be sure of His presence and purposes for you are His kingdom fulfillment and therefore for your good!

  3. Susan Young Says:

    Dear Jason, we are all praying for you as you face the next months of your life. Please know that your family in Christ cares for you and is supporting you in prayer as you face the future.

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