By: Peter Sessum
So there I was, in Afghanistan, no shit. I was standing in the terminal at Bagram Airfield waiting to fly to Khowst Province. I had a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) slung across my front, a rifle on my back and a pistol strapped to my thigh. I had enough bullets and bang to warrant a visit from the ATF.
I was heading with a three man PSYOP team to a firebase not far from the Pakistan border. There had not been any PSYOP support at the base so we would be starting from scratch. Never a good place to be. Because of the tactics, I still consider it my most dangerous time in country. I didn’t know that standing in the terminal; it was one big question mark.
The television was playing AFN news. They were talking about senate hearing about the Superbowl wardrobe malfunction. My first thought, and the one that sticks with me was, “This happened a month ago. People are still talking about it?”
I admit, I was pretty pissed. I was standing there in Afghanistan and the decision makers in my government thought the best use of their time was to conduct hearings about Janet Jackson’s boob. As a man, I like boobs as much as the next guy but there comes a time when you have to go back to work no matter how epic they are.
This is a good example of the disconnect between military members and the civilian population. Civilians have the luxury to care about things that absolutely do not matter in the grand scheme of things. More importantly, some civilians actually judge people on how much they care about shit that frankly does not matter.
I do not consider celebrities to be real people. They don’t live in a real world. I know for fact that I would go to jail if I had a DUI or had a few ounces of cocaine on me. And I would not go to 90 minute celebrity jail with an hour off for good behavior or be under house arrest in my mansion. I would go to real jail. So I don’t waste my brain cells caring about celebrities. However, I used to work with a woman that not only cared about them, she wanted to talk about them all the fucking time.
Her name was Becky and she loved to read about celebrities. I think the thickest thing she read was a people magazine special edition. It wasn’t news if it wasn’t about a star. Not only did she blather on Britney Spears, but she delighted in the fact that Spears was going through a tough time. Becky actually felt better about herself when bad things happened to famous people. The worst part is that she looked down on me because I didn’t care about what celebrities were doing.
At the time I was only a few months out of working counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. I just wanted a nice quiet job where lives were not on the line every second. A few months prior, I had made a decision that had I been wrong, I would have gotten 1,000 people killed. They followed my recommendation based solely on a cell phone call from me. I went from talking to ISAF S2 to talking to people who got their info from weekly celebrity magazines.
Before talking to vets, check your priorities. If your “hero” is someone that regularly trashes a hotel room that costs more than a new Marine makes in a year you might want to be quiet. If your heroes refuse to go onstage for fans that paid good money until they get the right color of M&Ms or start a concert late just to have a hissy fit, please do not talk to me. People who make millions of dollars should not whine about stupid shit.
My heroes are sitting on a hill in Afghanistan waiting for the next rocket attack. My here is the guy in Kosovo that is going to miss the birth of his first child to do a job for less than the guy that separates out M&Ms. My hero is the woman that is missing her baby’s first steps from half a world away. Right now there is a guy in an Army medical center that was just told he won’t walk again and he is thinking “fuck you, yes I will” while politely nodding to the doctor who is also a Colonel. That young soldier is a better man than most and so is the man who has to look at a man who isn’t old enough to drink and tell him that he will never walk again but will still help that young soldier try.
I all for the First Amendment and how you have the right to express yourself any way you want, even if that means only caring about what Lindsey Lohan is doing. But the members of congress and the president with all his cabinet people need to seriously pull their heads out of their fourth point of contact and get some real work done. When our government is come concerned about Janet Jackson’s boob that either supporting the war effort or getting us the hell out of there then we have a real problem. And if it takes a soldier to tell you that, we are in deeper trouble than I thought.