At its most basic level, my job was to be a self-propelled bullet magnet. All I had to do was go out and die for my country. Any lump of meat with a pulse that can convert oxygen to carbon dioxide without mechanical assistance should be capable of that. Doesn’t even have to be human; there’s the YouTube video of the chimp with the AK, proving that my job can literally be done by a monkey. A dog could go out and takes a bullet just as easily as I could, but the terrorists are less likely to shoot dogs.

So, when they told me I was too crippled to do my job; that I wasn’t even fit to die right. How do you think that felt? What was I supposed to think when they said I was too useless to be a sandbag, a bullet magnet, unfit to be dead weight; I couldn’t even “die gloriously for the regiment” properly.

That’s not what hurt the most, though. My unit, where I had served for 17 years, with men I considered family. No, better than family; I refuse to speak to most my blood relations as I consider them dishonorable scum. These men that I had called brothers for so many years booted me out the back door without a goodbye, no thank you, “you’ll be missed”, nothing. They were glad to see me go, it seemed. And I lost contact with several hundred men that had been family.

Luckily, I’m too arrogant, egotistical, and full of myself for that to bother me for much longer than it took to order a beer. But not everyone is as shallow a jerk as I am. I even got my own theme song, Denis Leary’s “I’m an @$$hole”. (hahaha) But think about that, and look at those veterans leaving service. Think what they are losing, and how; that boot in the 4th point of contact followed with a rude word. No more platoon of family crowding in constantly. No constant support structure, whether they want it or not. Just their lonely little selves, trying to figure out how someone can be too broken to die “properly” but still are able to have a life. At times like these, the two songs “Suicide is Painless” and “Paint it Black” take on special meaning.

I won’t advocate it. Personally, I want to keep living just because it pisses a few liberals I know off. We each find our own reasons. But we must do more to reach these vets, to build the family. As I say so often, “We have to care for each other. No one else will.” Some days, that’s the only reason I push, the hope that tomorrow I may find another brother to help. And that’s the best reason in the world to me.

David Gilliam
David Gillam is a medically retired Army Sergeant that served a long and distinguished career in the Indiana Army National Guard. He served two tours in Iraq, was injured in Baghdad, and spent several months in rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC. He has several degrees from Indiana University in many different areas of study.

David is married to his wonderful wife and caregiver, Anna, and has tremendous knowledge of the Veterans Administration. He is a valuable asset to the FreedomSystem team.