A Question For Military People and/or Their Families

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Laurajean, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I have recently been in touch with a former boyfriend that I haven't seen or talked to in over 20 years. He was in the Army and in combat and just returned from Iraq last February. Believe it or not, I don't happen to closely know anyone in the service (other than relatives who've served in the distant past). We've become in close contact lately and he is planning a visit to come see me. I'm wondering a few things and hoping military folk can help me, although I realize opinions may vary.

    My main question is: How should I address (or not address) this subject? I am very interested in hearing about his experience in Iraq, and would really value the opportunity to hear about the war firsthand from someone I know, but I don't want to be rude, nosey, upsetting, etc. Is it bad etiquette to ask about it? Is it a painful subject that I should avoid entirely, or would showing interest be a good thing? For those of you who have served, how do you feel about talking about it? Is it annoying when people ask, or are you pleased that they cared to ask? Is there anything I should or shouldn't say?

    He has made a couple comments on his own that he came close to dying a couple of times, and has also mentioned that he lost friends there. I know he is suffering from PTSD. He offered this, I didn't ask, so he doesn't seem opposed to talking about it, but I'm not sure if I should address it at all during his visit or wait for him to bring it up, if he does. So far, the only thing I have said for the most part was to thank him for his service. I told him that I myself am not brave enough for service, and I am very grateful to him and all who have served to protect my freedoms.

    He will be visiting soon, and I'm just wondering how to handle it and if it's okay to ask about it or if it's a sensitive subject that I should avoid. I'm sure everyone is different, but I'd like some general input.

    Thank you!
     
  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    My youngest son did a tour in Iraq (USMC) during the last couple of years & came home with good & bad stories. Thankfully none of them were really bad.
    I would say it would be ok to ask him about it, since he already offered up some info, but if he seems hesitant or uncomfortable, don't push it. Regardles of how we may feel about the war he was engaged in, they all appreciate hearing that we support THEM. It wasnt easy over there, from what my son tells me, and they didn't even see a lot of action. In the summer it was hot & miserable, In the winter it was freezing & miserable...but it was an experience.
    I'm sure if he doesn't want to talk about it, you'll pick up on it quick enough. If he seems ok talking about some of it but gets on a subject that gets awkward, steer him back to something 'safe' (like sand storms or snow). I wouldn't ask outright (not that you would either) "Did you kill anyone?" or anything along those lines.
    You'll do fine...you have the gift of gab (at least from what I can see on here) and you seem to have a 'people' personality!
    Good luck & fill us in later.
     
  3. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    I can tell you my experience.

    Our oldest son is an Airborne Ranger. He served in Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and others. He served 13 years.

    Michael was always a talker. No secrets, just a chatter box full of stories and a real clown. When he returned from his last tour, he had changed. I mean, he changed alot. It was noticeable to any who knew him. He was quiet, solemn, and kept to himself. I knew something had happened. I knew there was a story. (I am, after all, his mother. I know him well.) It was not until years later I would hear it, though. I won't tell his story, just suffice to say .... there was a story, yes.

    Have you seen the movie, "Black Hawk Down?" Michael was there. He knows the story first hand, yet would never speak of it. He has a copy of the movie in his possession, still in the unopened package.

    My advise, though I don't know if it is the same in all cases, would be to wait and let him offer. Wait and see what he wants to disclose. I dunno, maybe he wants to talk about things. But, maybe not. [​IMG]

    Good luck.
     
  4. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Quote:When you say if something gets awkward, do you mean for me or him? What I mean is, obviously if he seems awkward I would of course steer the topic. But what if he talks about something awkward like say, death or combat things, but seems fine with talking about it? Should I still steer him away, or let him get it off his chest? It may be therapeutic for him to discuss the difficult things, so I don't want to change the subject if it's something he should be getting out of his head. Do you know what I mean? I can handle feeling awkward if it helps him. Some people might get uncomfortable and change the subject when perhaps it would be better for him to be allowed to voice the hard stuff.

    By the way, just a personal side note. He was my first love. We've both recently shared that we never really got over each other, and so this will be a very special visit. [​IMG]
     
  5. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Quote:I'm sorry to hear that your son went through what was obviously a lot of pain & trauma. Thank you for sharing that.
     
  6. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    Quote:When you say if something gets awkward, do you mean for me or him? What I mean is, obviously if he seems awkward I would of course steer the topic. But what if he talks about something awkward like say, death or combat things, but seems fine with talking about it? Should I still steer him away, or let him get it off his chest? It may be therapeutic for him to discuss the difficult things, so I don't want to change the subject if it's something he should be getting out of his head. Do you know what I mean? I can handle feeling awkward if it helps him. Some people might get uncomfortable and change the subject when perhaps it would be better for him to be allowed to voice the hard stuff.

    By the way, just a personal side note. He was my first love. We've both recently shared that we never really got over each other, and so this will be a very special visit. [​IMG]

    Awkward for either of you--even if he seems fine with it, if you aren't, just let him know you arent ready to hear about 'that part of it.' If you dont mind listening to it if you think it's therapeutic for him, I say go for it. I'm guessing he may need to talk about the loss of some of his buddies. Think about it; how many people can you really talk to about something like that? Yeah, he can talk to other guys, but he may need to let out his more sensitive side--men, for all their macho bravado still need someone to bare their soul to at some point, and women usually end up being that someone. 'Cause we're sensitive, nurturing, caring, soft & cuddly...and we have the answers to everything!
    From the sounds of it, there will be plenty of time to talk about all kinds of things...!
     
  7. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    23,342
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    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Quote:When you say if something gets awkward, do you mean for me or him? What I mean is, obviously if he seems awkward I would of course steer the topic. But what if he talks about something awkward like say, death or combat things, but seems fine with talking about it? Should I still steer him away, or let him get it off his chest? It may be therapeutic for him to discuss the difficult things, so I don't want to change the subject if it's something he should be getting out of his head. Do you know what I mean? I can handle feeling awkward if it helps him. Some people might get uncomfortable and change the subject when perhaps it would be better for him to be allowed to voice the hard stuff.

    By the way, just a personal side note. He was my first love. We've both recently shared that we never really got over each other, and so this will be a very special visit. [​IMG]

    If you think that you'll eventually fall in love with this guy and maybe get married....you'll gradually want to know everything about him since you havnt seen him in over 20 years....including his military service. Dont push it, let him tell you on his own on this subject.
     
  8. Laurajean

    Laurajean Slightly Touched

    Apr 2, 2010
    New Hampshire
    Quote:When you say if something gets awkward, do you mean for me or him? What I mean is, obviously if he seems awkward I would of course steer the topic. But what if he talks about something awkward like say, death or combat things, but seems fine with talking about it? Should I still steer him away, or let him get it off his chest? It may be therapeutic for him to discuss the difficult things, so I don't want to change the subject if it's something he should be getting out of his head. Do you know what I mean? I can handle feeling awkward if it helps him. Some people might get uncomfortable and change the subject when perhaps it would be better for him to be allowed to voice the hard stuff.

    By the way, just a personal side note. He was my first love. We've both recently shared that we never really got over each other, and so this will be a very special visit. [​IMG]

    If you think that you'll eventually fall in love with this guy and maybe get married....you'll gradually want to know everything about him since you havnt seen him in over 20 years....including his military service. Dont push it, let him tell you on his own on this subject.

    Ya know, I'm not sure that I ever fell out of love with him. But we were young, this was 23 years ago, and he just wasn't ready for anything serious back then. I was shocked when he said recently that he kicked himself years later for losing me and that he never really got over it. This whole thing is mind blowing. And then to find out he joined the Army and served in Iraq. I'm nervous enough about seeing him again and then the whole service thing I just don't know how to handle, since I don't know anyone in the military. It's a whole world I know little about. There's A LOT to catch up on after 20+ years, getting to know each other all over again, and his military experience is just one part of that. I have a feeling he will be an open book about it all, but you are right, I won't push to know everything at once. Time will tell. [​IMG]
     
  9. herefordlovinglady

    herefordlovinglady It Is What It Is

    Jun 23, 2009
    Georgia
    I have had both experiences. One who would tell everything and the other who couldn't mutter a word without upsetting him. I was caring and heart wide open for both. The more intimate your relationship becomes, the more you two will share. Trust in your instincts as to when to approach or not. If he has already mentioned the PTSD, then he is open to discussing things -- IMO.

    Hugs to him for serving our country.

    ETA: After rereading your OP. This man is a lifer. He will be more open to conversation than a young man just coming out of boot camp and heading to war.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  10. herefordlovinglady

    herefordlovinglady It Is What It Is

    Jun 23, 2009
    Georgia
    Quote:As proud as I am of all our troops, I am equally saddened by the spirit that is lost. Prayers to your young man.
     

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