I had someone ask me through the website whether what I had been through had made me lose my faith or become angry at God. They asked me this because ever since they returned from Iraq, they have felt like a stranger in church on Sundays. The short answer: Yes. I had a serious loss of faith.
I think it's human nature to question your faith when you experience something horrific. I thought, "God can't exist. If God was up there, he wouldn't let this shit happen." That's the crisis of faith. Questioning. If God's up there how could he let such horrific things happen? I didn't realize it at the time, but when I was asking that question, I was asking God for an answer. When I didn't get one, I got angry. Angry at God. I thought, "God, if you are listening, Fuck You, you bastard. How could you let this shit happen. Benevolent, my ass. You are spiteful. I hate you." Yeah. Some pretty angry sentiment there. And I don't know a single vet with PTSD who hasn't gone down this road at some point. It doesn't matter if the soldier is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. The crisis of faith followed by anger always seems to happen.
Let me lay out a series of events for you:
1996 - First Year in College. I meet a guy named Rami Hassouneh. We become fast friends. We go to a coffee shop and he orders in another language. I ask him what he is speaking and he says, "Arabic". I tell him I could never learn that language.
1999 - Joining the Army. I score a 99 on the ASVAB. They ask me if I am interested in languages. I take the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) and score a 144 out of 150. They give me a choice of languages: Arabic or Arabic.
2000 - I graduate with honors from the Defense Language Institute.
2001 - After another year of training, I get to my first duty assignment in Wiesbaden, Germany.
2002 - I go on a Liaison Mission to Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense. One of my fellow linguists jokingly calls me 'Harris of Arabia'.
2003 - I get deployed as part of a Mobile Interrogation Team to Kuwait in preparation for the invasion into Iraq. We cross the berm on March 19th and I begin the deployment that changes me forever.
2004 - I am sent home with an active duty diagnosis of PTSD. I decide to return to college.
2006 - I meet my wife on March 24. We get married on September 27th.
2007 - I graduate Magna Cum Laude with a Degree in International Business. I struggle and struggle to find work. The economy has started to circle the drain.
2010 - My daughter is born on November 8th.
2011 - I decide to start blogging as an outlet for my PTSD. Within a month, Combat Veterans with PTSD is born.
In Short: If things wouldn't have turned out the way they did in Iraq, I wouldn't have my degree. I wouldn't have my wife. I wouldn't have my amazing and beautiful daughter. Combat Veterans with PTSD would never have been born.
I don't know whether I believe in God the way many do. I wouldn't even call it faith - I would call it spirituality. I can't attribute what I went through to some grand design. Or can I? I still don't know. That's over a decade of 'coincidence' that I can't explain. I know I am still angry. For me to realize my purpose, I had to go through all of THAT? Yup, still angry.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.