From the WSJ: “When the Fighting Stops”

MDL tossed this our way, and we are glad he did.

For many of you, this will undoubtedly sound a familiar note. For over a decade now, operations overseas offered tens of thousands of young American men a good opportunity to go and do what young men have done for centuries. One need neither to love the cause nor hate it– nor, indeed, to embrace the idea– to recognize the allure of the promise of a good hard fight against a capable adversary in a far-off and storied land.

So, when the fighting stops, what then? For many of them, it’ll be a hard adjustment.


  1. DaveO says:

    Sgt Martin is earning $59,000 per year?

    WTF ???

    Or is that crapola 'free medical, dental, education, et cetera' that gets rolled into total compensation?

    As for the rest of the article:

    Following WWII, the world kept fighting – wars of independence, corporate raids and such. There was a need for experienced men to fight those wars. So whether it was the French Foreign Legion absorbing parts of the Wermacht and SS, or the many campaigns in Africa, or the growing hordes of bikers in the US, those soldiers too alienated for society will find a niche and make it their own.

    • Mike Burke says:

      I'd hardly call all those benefits "crapola," especially the retirement and medical coverage–I have to cough up $1K/month into the state retirement system, which my college matches; I'm paying $1100 per quarter to cover one daughter who's aged out of TRICARE for medical insurance (my wife and I are TRICARE Standard users)–and the loss of tax-free housing and subsistence, as well as having to pay state income tax on retired pay (which is slowly going away in Missouri–in two years, no state tax on military pensions).So initial entry into civlian life can be tough (I retired in 2000, so I've had time to adjust).

      Military benefits are very expensive to the taxpayer–I know, I used to work in the office at HQDA that did the calculations–a constant process, BTW–and do in fact form a very vital part of a GI's compensation package. When you consider that TRICARE coverage is priced too low–my officemate and I invented the current contribution system and set the amounts in 1995, and they have not gone up since, which was not the original design–military folks, particularly retirees, enjoy a pretty good deal. I am always stunned at the stories my civilian friends tell me about their difficulties with medical insurance.

      We military-affiliated folks have it pretty good (one of the many reasons my wife and I stayed in for 20+ years–many of her fellow dentists have much less lucrative retirement options–they are self-financed, of course–because they have to buy insurance individually and their pensions fluctuate with the market.

      My student veterans also talk about the same things–though more and more have been successful in navigating the VA system and getting excellent healthcare. But those with families find it a real struggle to go to school, maintain a family, and work at least one job–I've lost several combat vets who simply couldn't finance their lives without quitting school and working full-time. We can call them feckless all we want, but they really do have a hard time managing.

      Of course, I always tell folks in authority that community colleges need NCOs–if we could just form the students into platoons and hire some tough former E7s or E6s to take them under their wing. we'd have no dropouts, all As, and maybe even some appropriately dressed!

      Seriously, though, many of my veterans struggle at first because they are not supervised or have no clear chain of command to follow to get help when they need it. So it's a big deal, even down here in the two-year schools.

  2. R. Hollander says:

    Below resources might be useful:

  3. VMI Warrior says:

    For those that are able to differentiate between combat and civil protection / service, policing, especially in an urban department, can give occasional adrenaline rushes similar to combat, albeit not nearly as often. Some, like Sgt Martin in the story seems, may not be able to make that transition, but military vets tend to do quite well in the regimented para-military police.
    What a lot of these guys need to look out for is that to find that adrenaline high, they turn to illegal activities. This is a lot if what led to the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. The thrill of doing something illegal, beating the odds of getting caught, can be exhilarating… Until you do get caught.