A clean, well-lit place to vent
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Thank you for being so straightforward with Ray. He is an excellent soldier. I can't fault his thinking. Really, I can't. We had guys stand up in the middle of a firefight. Sometimes, just screaming and shooting and charging the enemy position. Noticeable result; one dead soldier, with multiple gunshot wounds, that doesn't have to feel the pain any more... It's just one of those terrible things about war fighting; there's nobody around to tell you when it's over. It's never over, it just gets personal. Ray really needs to de-stress in country. He needs to feel secure. He needs to feel understood. If he's to be discharged, he deserves a soft de-militarization. I sure hope they cut out that PTSD/Personality trait type discharge. It's not hard to figure out. You dip (or sometimes steep) people in crazy, they're going to take a little bit home with them.
Wanted to add my voice to the chorus. I worked at a VA Medical Center for twenty four years, and saw Gulf War I vets come home; then, later, the Forever War vets. It still amazes me how completely many people in this nation shield their eyes from the outcome of the battles fought in their name. One of my favorite lines to use when issuing a piece of much-needed medical equipment was, "Nobody seemed to care how much it cost to send you into combat; I'm not bothered by how much this is costing now."
After seeing the official video for "Friday," all I can say bout the Red Rascal is this: He is one merciless SOB. I pray I never hear that song again. It is the worst ode to infantilization I've ever heard. I'm amazed I survived listening to it once.
Today's strip was really powerful. It accomplished in four panels what it took The Hurt Locker two-plus hours to do. Great storyline.
I'm probably one of the few who weren't surprised that Ray got injured, even less so that he's going to get sent home. I get the feeling he's going to have a harder time adjusting than B.D. or Toggle.
I just noticed that the "enlarge" feature has been restored to the site. I don't know how long it's been back, but I appreciate it. it's a godsend for these 75-year-old eyes. Thank you very much from an old sailor who has been reading your strip from day one.
Just click on the word ENLARGE, right under the strip.
Please bring Ray home, please. He's been there too long and he's earned the right to stop being GT's symbol of the USA. Let him start rebuilding his life with BD's help. I'm certain the rest of the crew can also lend a hand.
How do you do it? How do you address a soul-wrenching issue like battlefield traumatic brain injury and make it poignant and funny at the same time?
Ray is at an intersection and intersections are dangerous. When you tell the soldier, sailor, airman or marine that the show is over, it's a dangerous time. They do desperate things.
War is simple. Life is complex. Makes sense to me. Seems like Ray got it right.
Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of all that has been done in my 52 years of life (so far), supposedly "in my name." The story of Ray brings it home in a way that body counts and patient numbers cannot. Thank you for staying with your work for so long, and sharing your gifts so beautifully.
"AT&T bills and couples counseling." Hey! That's why I do my job, too! (Fortunately, mine's only schoolteaching.) Been reading the strip since '72. Boola Boola. Thx!
I absolutely love this story, one which needs to be told more than many others because the wounds are not visible. Unfortunately the cause of these injuries is also in the early stages of understanding, and it is not always enemy action. I have watched a fellow SF Soldier who I have known for 20 years get to the same place by riding explosive breaching charges in as the #1 man.
I like Ray, and hope this week's storyline is GBT's device to get him out of there and into treatment before it's too late.
For readers who might not know, a specialist is an E-4, the rank equivalent of a corporal. It's a holdover from the 1960s and '70s when the Army had SP4s, SP5s, SP6s, etc., as an alternate to the hard-stripe NCO ranks. These days, Army recruits who have earned a four-year degree or have civilian-acquired job skills will enter as a specialist. I'm guessing that Miller is a college grad with a technical skill, possibly medic since he brought Ray in for treatment after the explosion.
I have TBI from multiple blast injuries. Thanks for getting people to understand that even though we were not tornup and bleeding, that over time and throughout multiple deployments and exposure to numerous blasts (many not reported) we have developed injuries that are difficult to deal with, and at times for us to accept.
Ray has been representing the more subtle, and thus largely unseen, side of war ever since our first adventure into Saddam-land. It hurts to see his current condition, but this story must be told and no one but GBT can tell it with heart and humor. I'm not looking forward to Ray's story going ahead, but go ahead we must.
Ray, I've met your type. See, back in the early 80s at community college, I was an honorary member of the vet's club -- the only place I fit in (not all who face combat serve, you see). My "big brothers" were all Vietnam Vets. It's time to think about coming home, honey. Think hard, because I don't do funerals.
You go Ray! Look, the world just handed him a steamer. He's taking the ball (figuratively) and he's making his play. No doubt the nick 'Boomer' will stick for the rest of his life. Or, about six months, whichever comes first. A few "get it," where Ray is at, but they have no patience with VA Outreach centers. Gawd help those poor citizens at the VA help centers. They do not, cannot, will not ever, get it. Ray is on a different trip. Patronizing a mentally ill soldier could have disastrous consequences. Blowing off a body part might be the only thing that pulls Ray back from the edge. Thanks for taking this whole thing seriously.