We are thrilled to have a guest writer, Greg Dixon, from 3/7 Lima Company, who attended a reunion last October. Nobody can speak better than those that have actually been involved. The following is well worth 5 minutes of your time! Also important to note these guys invited the son (an adult) of one of their fallen brothers. As an observer you would have never known he wasn’t one of veterans that served with them except the close eye that every one of them kept on him.
Reuniting After War provided my brothers and our Gold Star families with a necessary platform to engage in a friendly, non-judgmental environment. This was essential for our emotional maturation after so many years of separation. Our deployment to Al Anbar in 2004 was historically iconic. As a result of facing the enemy every day we lost friends, families, limbs, minds, souls, and eventually that city (Husaybah) we gave so much to. The rise of the Islamic State cut each of us deeper than we could explain to a therapist at the VA hospital. Seeing Jihadist parade around streets where we lost friends left a wounds of betrayal by politicians, uncertainty of the fight we fought, and reignited a fury that many of us buried deep inside. No one could possibly understand that feeling… except those that were there.
Once Mary and her staff started working to bring our unit back together, I knew it would be essential for us to, once again, collaborate in order to reassure each other “everything will be okay”. Nervous, anxious, and excited were the most common words used by the Marines to describe the feeling of reuniting. After 2004, many of us continue our lives to build careers and families. However, one thing remains consistent in the back of our minds. Our bond forged by the extraordinary sacrifice in the most violent country and the consequences of being a Marine in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of us had been silent about that experience until Reunited After War presented us with a chance to begin healing. Relationships that were once cut short by a MEDAVAC (being wounded) were once again established over a cold beer and warm fire. Dialogue continued on the golf course as if no time had ever passed. Conversations with squad leaders about a tactical choice, confirmed they did all they could have done in that situation. Mentoring our fallen brother’s children about college degrees or dating filled a void for them and us that could have only happened because of Reunited After War. The mystic Minnesota wilderness silenced our demons and reignited relationships, passion, and ambition for accountability. We see and comprehend that our lives are dedicated to the fallen and each day we live for them. That mindset was clouded by so many years of separation. Nothing is better for healing than seeing comrades that share the same traumatic experiences.