There are a lot of people who live in fear of their phones. Doctors, EMT’s, firefighters, and pastors all know that in a moment, their phone could change their day or week. Maybe it’s a car accident they need to get to quickly. Maybe it’s the hospital calling them in for an urgent case. Or maybe it’s a family member calling to let you know that someone died. I received one of those phone calls on Memorial Day, laced with tragic irony – a soldier had killed themselves, and now I, as the chaplain have to “do my thing”.
The thing that frightens me, the thing that I want to process “out loud”, is just how comfortable I am with these situations. People tell me all the time that they have no idea what to do or say in these moments. That’s not my problem. My problem is that it begins to feel scripted or rote. My problem seems to be how comfortable I am talking about death, grief, and suicide. It feels strangely familiar. Continue reading
I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people about what it’s like being in the Army. There’s an air of mystery and lore around what being a uniformed service member is like. In college, for example, I had to spend every Fall semester telling dozens of curious students that I had not, in fact, gone to basic training, nor was I an expert marksmen. I also wasn’t Jason Bourne in the flesh, capable of using any and everything as a lethal weapon. I was just a student who had learned some fun stuff, but more really boring stuff. (By my senior year, I was completely okay with letting them think I was a Green Beret-Ninja hybrid who could kill them with a paper plate since that meant fewer questions).
Being a vet (soldier, sailor, airmen, marine, or coastie) is difficult to explain. The best illustration I can come up with is that being in the military is like having a roommate who follows you everywhere, and does some weird things at weird times. Oh, and that roommate lives in your thoughts, and not actually in a spare bedroom.
I’ve named my roommate ‘Joe’.