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If You Like Watching Fox News and Posting Your Political Opinion on Social Media

by Jessica Bugg 2 years ago in movie review
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You Should Watch Jarhead

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Iraq, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the “Conflict in the Middle East” may just be words that fly by on a ticker at the bottom of your screen while you attempt another hill on your Peloton before getting a latte to you.

And after getting that coffee, espresso, chai tea latte, or whatever it is the rich people drink now, you fire up your phone to post another opinion on war, politics, government relations . . . when the closest thing most people have seen to combat is the latest drop on Call of Duty and the closest thing to POW camp most people have been in is the local Escape Room and they couldn’t even get out of that. It seems that everyone has a loud opinion on war, the military, and what they should or shouldn’t be doing.

I, have never served in a war, dear reader. I came of age during 9/11. I watched the towers fall. I saw the recruiters come to our small town high school lobby in droves. Replete with their medals and table cloths. Promising mainly the young men I grew up with and a few select ladies a promise of a free college education and a chance to “see the world”. Ironically, they always seemed to show up at our school, the “poor school” in town. Never at the school across town that some of my friends went to.

I asked my mother about the recruiters and she said to never speak to them. We were not going to war. I was going to college and so was my brother. And we did.

I never questioned why she was so adamant about this considering her father had served in WWII in the Pacific theater and her father-in-law had served in Vietnam. Her father brought back a painting stolen from a Japanese museum that hung in our kitchen and a set of Ben-Wa balls my grandmother said were a filthy disgrace. Her father-in-law brought back videos of his pet monkey they had in ‘Nam and a penchant for sleeping in the coldest A.C. electricity could provide.

Neither talked much about the wars. My grandfather passed in ‘96. And my step-grandfather has suffered from so many strokes at this point, he can’t talk about much even if he wanted to.

My grandfather got to be buried with an American flag that was encased in a triangle shadow box. My uncle has that now. My step-grandfather collects a payment every month for his exposure to Agent Orange . . . A small consolation prize for all of the health issues he has faced since coming back.

In the absence of their words and stories, I still have no shortage of the knowledge of war, or rather the aftermath of war. When I met Matt, he had told me that he served in Iraq. The second time, not the first. The one under George W. not to be confused with Daddy Bush’s war in the same place over the same shit.

Matt asked me if I wanted to know if he had killed anyone?

I still don’t know how I came up with this response but I meant it then and mean it now:

Why would I ask you how many people have you killed? If you didn’t kill anyone, that’s not enough. And if you did kill one person, then that’s one too many. There’s no right answer to the question for a soldier, sailor, marine, or member of the Air Force.

I didn’t realize how profound that answer would be to him until months later when we were living together. He woke me up in the middle of the night in a complete panic. He could barely breathe. I took him outside to the carport where I sat with him for hours in silence. Not knowing what to say or how to make it better. I honestly didn’t know what was going on.

Matt would later tell me in the following weeks, that he had been a guard in a POW camp in Iraq. Not just any POW camp but the one that guarded the worst of the worst. People who had beheaded villages and raped women and children.

He survived not one but two prison riots. Riots where the prisoners dug out of barbed wire cages and threw buckets of piss and shit on members of our military and forged weapons with the intention to stab to kill.

The first one wasn’t so bad he said. The second one, he almost died. I asked why they didn’t just shoot? They couldn’t. They only had rubber bullets. Plus they would be required to get approval BEFORE shooting so as not to provoke a diplomatic issue.

Matt would tell me the story of signing papers stating in the event of his death, his life was worth $400,000 and to make peace with the idea of death.

Matt told me about Skyping back home to his then girlfriend, only to have mortar fire hit the camp and have to take cover. He sincerely thought he was going to die . . . Again.

When the mortar fire subsided, he got back on Skype to tell the girlfriend he was ok but she didn’t care. She just needed him to approve adding her to his Navy Federal account which he did. When he came home from deployment he had less tha. $2,000 in that account. The girlfriend had spent all of the deployment money on Bingo and dick.

I would love to say that his experience was isolated. But my friend Janeen, who was one of the first women to see true active combat as a female, while driving a vehicle through the desert looked up to see her best friend’s vehicle which was ahead of her blown up in a land mine. Her friend didn’t survive. She did.

Janeen survived long enough to come home but not before seeing a child . . . A baby burn onto its mother in the burn pits and she got to see the brains ooze out of the skull.

Matt is not ok.

Janeen is not ok.

And they aren’t allowed to say they aren’t ok because “it’s a choice” or “they knew what they were signing up for”. They thought they were signing up for college and a job. Not near death experience, explosions, and night terrors.

They are both almost ten years post war and are now able to really talk to me about their experiences. But not a lot. Only for short amounts of time. I’m only allowed to ask a few questions before it’s too much.

Finally, Matt suggested I watch Jarhead which came out in the early noughties. Janeen seconded this opinion. They never agree on anything. It’s always a dick measuring contest (which I am 100% certain Janeen would win that contest) so when they agree on anything, I listen without question.

Jarhead is based on a novel by a Marine who served in the first Gulf War under Daddy Bush. Jamie Foxx is even in it. It shows a Marine going from boot camp through the war. Part comedy part drama, I think they call it a dramedy now.

It took me about half an hour to figure out who Jody was. (Spoiler: Jody is the name given to any man who fucks your wife, fiancée, or girlfriend while you are away).

Jarhead shows what our troops go through in the Middle East. It shows the faulty equipment. The inability to attack or defend ones self. It shows the personal struggles with fidelity, trust, and confronting the fear of your own death while at war. It also shows what it’s like to come home. The only thing Janeen and Matt said was innaccurate was the parade. Neither of them ever got one.

If you like to give your opinion about war but haven’t had the chance to go yourself and lack a Matt or a Janeen, watch Jarhead. It depicts the human side to a faceless concept.

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Jessica Bugg

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