Military shapes lives, no matter the time of service

First Posted: 2:48 pm - November 19th, 2015 Updated: 2:48 pm - November 19th, 2015.

By Thomas Crisp - Contributing Columnist

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I don’t know who wrote this, but he nailed it! Indeed, it’s true: “Mostly, I don’t know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn’t feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth.”

The military experience made us the ethical persons we are and gave us a great sense of understanding of the people around us. Like it or not it gave us an experience we will never forget. Occasionally, I venture back to NAS, Meridian, where I’m greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, “Have a good day, Chief.”

Every time I go back to any Navy Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did, many years ago.

The military is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It’s a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced – a place where everybody is busy, but not too busy to take care of business. Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.

Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military and who you were dealing with. That’s because you could read somebody’s uniform from 20 feet away and know the score.

Service personnel wear their careers on their sleeves, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their ribbons and know where they’ve served.

I miss all those little things you take for granted when you’re in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line military formation that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon.

I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the tarmac, the bark of drill instructors and the sing-song answers from the squads as they pass by in review. To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it’s very serious business — especially in times of war.

But I miss the salutes I’d throw at officers and the crisp returns as we criss-crossed with a “by your leave sir.” I miss the smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and disappearing into the clouds. The same while on carrier duty.

I even miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that enlisted men gripe about constantly, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they’ll ever know or admit. I miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender.

Mostly, I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.

Mostly, I don’t know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn’t feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth. I wish I could express my thoughts as well about something I loved — and hated sometimes. Face it guys — we all miss it, whether you had one tour or a career, it shaped your life.

PTSD information

Recently deployed National Guard members and Reservists have returned with a higher prevalence of PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse compared to active duty soldiers, according to recent data. However, these service members return almost immediately to civilian life without mental health assessments or treatments for these conditions.

A new Geisinger study aims to identify specific genetic risk factors to determine which National Guard and Reservists are at a higher risk of developing these post-discharge conditions in an effort to provide better post-trauma treatment and therapy.

Led by Joseph Boscarino, senior scientist with the Geisinger Center for Health Research, with assistance from Geisinger doctors and researchers – including Thomas Urosevich, a recently deployed U.S. Army Reserve Officer – the study is the first to look at mental health and substance abuse risk factors in the National Guard and Reservists seen in non-Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.

Boscarino advocates screening National Guard and Reservists for genetic factors and believes it may lead to better post-trauma treatments through genetic counseling. The study will leverage Geisinger’s highly developed electronic health record (EHR) along with scores of in-depth, diagnostic interviews.

Boscarino leads a national team – including investigators at Kent State and Tulane universities – that has developed a highly successful tool for predicting PTSD following traumatic incidents. This team has been collaborating since the World Trade Center attacks in New York City in 2001, and has over 50 research publications.

“Until now, there hasn’t been an easy-to-use tool to help clinicians rapidly identify PTSD in patients in routine practice or after a traumatic event,” said Boscarino, a U.S. Army combat veteran himself. “We think we now have a basic tool that can quickly identify PTSD cases and facilitate appropriate therapy. I wish my generation of warfighters had these tools available when we returned from Vietnam. Because we didn’t, that is why I have been pursuing this research for the past 35 years.”

Mesothelioma information

Navy veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma now have an excellent place to turn for free and helpful information and advice. Mesothelioma.us, a leading website that is devoted to providing mesothelioma patients and their families with reputable and educational resources, has just released new in-depth articles and a free information packet designed exclusively for Navy vets.

As a spokesperson for mesothelioma.us/ noted, Navy veterans were the most vulnerable to asbestos exposure, due to the large amounts of asbestos products that were used on the military vessels. In general, Navy vets who worked below deck for the majority of their service have the highest risk for mesothelioma.

Examples of products that typically contained asbestos include gaskets, brake pedals, flooring, cement, adhesives, piping and plumbing and vessel insulation.

To receive the free information packet on mesothelioma and U.S. Veterans Assistance, vets and/or their loved ones can visit the website at any time and enter in their contact information. If they prefer, they may call 1-800-763-9286 for immediate assistance.

By Thomas Crisp

Contributing Columnist

Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire.


Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire.


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