Do You Miss War?

By | November 8, 2019

[November 8, 2019]  Earlier this week, I was invited to a local High School in an open forum.  The idea was to give young students a chance to ask questions about military veterans.  I’ve done this before and given speeches on veteran issues.  To my surprise, a young teenager asked me a question that I’d never encountered; she asked, “Do you miss war?

Nine veterans were present, and I do believe the question was for me.  Every vet looked in my direction, and I presume they were thinking “How to answer that question?”  Of course, I don’t miss war.  Death and destruction, the physical and mental strain, and the fear, pain, and intensity are a venomous brew of why war is not a likable event.

What the question did, however, was to force me to distinguish between the emotional high (some call it the “action junkie” effect) with the intense downside to combat.  I had just spoken about the attraction of the camaraderie of those who fight beside you, how camaraderie is like a lifetime friendship but stronger and more primitive.

My answer was simple.  I missed the camaraderie of those in my unit, our intense shared experiences, and the devotion to one another.  The strength of the emotion would drive me to go to the aid of a fallen comrade regardless of the risk to myself.  What I do not miss was all the bad parts of war.  In my mind, I can still smell the stench of broken sewers, remember the deafening roar of the artillery, and the little children without parents.  These things are not what I miss in war.

I believe that camaraderie is from intense experiences, usually bad or difficult circumstances.  Those friends we had since childhood are close to us, but our comrades are much closer despite knowing them for a shorter time.  I gave the example of a childhood friend “Wilson” who lives in Washington, D.C. (3 hours driving time) and “John” from one-year combat in Iraq (8.5 hours driving time to his house).

When Wilson calls to ask that I visit him, I get out my appointment book and schedule a time next week to drive down and see him.  If John calls, I’m in my car early the next morning.  Is it true the difference is something deep in our psyche?  Is it primordial?  Frankly, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because the emotional connection to comrades is more attractive than anything I’ve ever known.  The “connection” is why one soldier will willingly risk his own life to save another soldier.

The young student seemed to understand.  But, unless you have the emotional bond of a soldier (or any military experience from intense hardship), it is impossible to explain fully.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Do You Miss War?

  1. Max Foster

    Another excellent article on a leadership-relevant topic. It is simply too easy to pass by the idea of “camaraderie” and its ramifications. Yes, it is deeper than a strong friendship and, of course, that is very difficult to explain to another because it is beyond their comprehension. Only thru experience can you achieve it and Gen. Satterfield did make that point.

  2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Keep up the good works, Gen Satterfield. Loved today’s article.

    1. Doug Smith

      Yeah! ? I keep coming back to this website to provide me with a daily dose of good leadership thinking. And, it doesn’t take long. Plus I get an occasional significant history lesson, to boot.

  3. Wilson Cox

    Wilson, do I know that guy? Just kidding. I was happy to read this article today because it reminded me of a similar situation I have with my unit’s buddies that we served together for just three years. We have annual reunions and they are a great time. Plus it gives me a chance to take my wife and show her off to “the guys.”

  4. Karl J.

    I too agree that camaraderie is why soldiers are so close to their fellow comrades. I will give a side note here that the Communists use the term “comrade” and thus the meaning is distorted. Please take this into account when using it. My calling someone a comrade, it doesn’t mean they are a Communist Party friend but the connection is based on those “shared extreme experiences.”

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Point well taken, Karl. I was wondering about that too. The idea of “comrade” is not to be confused with communism or any other such ideology.

      1. Bryan Lee

        Exactly. Thank you both Karl and Jose for an enlightening perspective. We should try to keep the term clean of bias and especially of Communist influence. But that is the first thing that the ideologies always say “corrupt the meaning of words.”

      2. Mark Evans

        Yes, thanks all for pointing that out. This is not trivial. Definitions do matter. How our culture “sees” a word and its meaning is significant. What we don’t want is the word to be bastardized by our commie neighbors.

  5. JT Patterson

    Another educational article. I see that you are getting out into the local community to help provide a better perspective of veterans. I live in a bit of a liberal community and they deserve face-to-face contact with vets because they have such a biased view. That view was largely built upon the irresponsible reporting from Vietnam. Too bad the media reporters and my liberal neighbors can’t think for themselves on this issue.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Hi JT. I have veterans coming into my classes this coming Monday (which is Veterans Day, of course). I’ve told them that we need to ensure that my students ask questions about their military service. My job is to get them comfortable enough to do this. I hope it all turns out okay. I cannot see where it could go wrong. The more exposure the better.

      1. Georgie B.

        Keep up the great work saving our kids from the liberal ideology of Karl Marx and the lessons from the 20th Century how that ideology failed spectacularly.

    2. apache2

      Thank you JT for following up on your community and helping them get a good education on our military veterans.

  6. Harry Donner

    A story like this is hopefully repeated throughout our nation near Veterans Day. It gives young folks a chance to meet with vets and to get some insight into what they think. It is also a time to kill off the old stereotypes which means that they see vets as a bunch of old men with boring stories. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for giving us a little insight into your High School visit.

  7. Tracey Brockman

    Such an odd question but one that deserves asking.

    1. Army Captain

      Yes, and one that deserves also an answer. I think Gen. Satterfield did a pretty good job of giving an appropriate answer. The most common question kids give is “Did you kill anyone?” At least they didn’t ask that ….. or he didn’t report they did.

      1. Darwin Lippe

        Well said, Army Capt. I hope you have been well and good, as always, to see you on Gen. Satterfield’s leadership website. I too have a long affiliation with the US Army. Most of my service was in the US and din’t get overseas expect for temporary duty. Thanks for your service.

    2. Eric Coda

      Hmmmm, I would like to believe that the teenager was one of the smarter ones in the class.

      1. Jane Fillmore

        You are probably correct. This question also surprised me.

    3. Scotty Bush

      Yes, I agree. But to add a little more, I think that Gen. Satterfield was the perfect vet to answer the question. Of all our military vets, the majority have never seen combat or had a truly difficult experience that forged such a bond.

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