by J.P. Ruiz
This is a non-fiction piece about soldiers returning from the Gulf War.
As a young boy, just 18 years of age, I receiving my orders to be one of the first military units to be deployed to the Persian Gulf. I was excited, this is what I had trained for the last year and I had always wanted to be soldier. I had been married for a little over a year and it would be hard to leave my wife and my family behind but it was such an honor to serve my country. My war was a short war, yes I saw my fair share of fighting. Blood and guts and everything else that comes with a war was experienced by most of the ground troops. I was exposed to depleted uranium after being shot and then exposed to cyran gas from the scud missles that rained over head night and day. It was an emotional rollercoaser, most of us didn't sleep for days after the war began. I was a medic for an elite unit during the war. It would make us sick to hear the reports coming over the radio stating we had not sustained any casualties when we were bandaging soldiers and sending them out by medevac hellicopters. War is ugly no matter how heroic the stories. It was such a hard thing to see inocent women and children victims.
The most difficult battle didn't start until I returned home. The bad memories that brought depression and the internal injuries of chemical exposure. I returned with all my limbs but I came back with injuries that could only be explained as the "Gulf War Condition". What does that mean? Nobody really knows, all we know is that one out of three of us that fought in the first Gulf War came back ill. This illness brought us chronic pain in all of our joints and muscles; depression; migrain headaches; severe abdominal pain; nausea and vomitting; and deep emotional injuries. The pain is real, so real that many soldiers have taken their lives because they are tierd of hurting so much. Along with the physical condition we have had so much trouble getting our government to accept our illness that is only discribed as a syndrome. These symptoms become more severe as the years go by. I was asked by my eight year old daughter if I knew I would return with this illness would I still have gone, "Yes, with honor". I just want to honor all veterans, because I am lucky I came home. I know that after the war, the hardest battle begins. I know that most veterans when asked, if you knew then what you know now, would you still have volunteered, the answer is, "With Honor". God Bless America.