Recently, I was at a bar that prides itself in offering 40+ varieties of craft beer. When the guy next to me orders a Bud Light, the bartender gives him the look usually reserved for a village idiot.
Turns out the guy is an Army veteran. His name is Eddy. He is from El Paso, Texas. He returned from active duty after serving for almost 2 years at Baghram Air force base in Afghanistan. While I might not agree with some wars or the politics behind them but I have the highest respect for our soldiers. They put their lives at risk. I never risked even my pinky finger for anything.
I buy him a drink. He tells me his story. Turns out he was recently “med boarded" - which I understand, is a euphemism for "not fit for active combat because of medical issues". On prodding, he tells me of an experience during his stint in Afghanistan. His squad is tipped about few Taliban fighters hiding in a house in a nearby village. Next thing they’re in their "Gucci gear" - military term for combat uniform, night vision and assault weapons. Heavy metal music blaring, around 3am, they head out to fight the Taliban. After dividing their target house into quadrants, Eddy and his team start scanning the house. Next thing he’s staring down the barrel of an AK-47. Before the Taliban fighter could react, he yanks away the weapon. Guess the night vision helped. Eddy gets into close combat with the Taliban and starts hitting the fighter with the AK-47 he just acquired and his heavy boots. Shortly after, the Taliban fighter stops moving. He’s either unconscious or dead.
Eddy gets on his knees and tries to give him first-aid - Geneva convention requires him to. Next thing he’s crying and feeling bad on realizing he might have killed a person in a hand-to-hand fight. It was his first time.
Eddy is 21. Now back in US, he still get nightmares. He suffers from PTSD and doctors have diagnosed his case to be an advanced one. He’s currently getting treated in Austin. He says while the treatment is not yet working but alcohol seems to work. After he recovers, he wants to get a college degree and maybe a Bud Light.