Loss Of Importance Disorder
That's what I have finally realized I am suffering from. 4 months after leaving Iraq and coming home, adjusting to my family and new house, adjusting to civilian life, I am suffering a loss of importance.
Maybe not even a loss of importance. There are a surprising number of folks who have talked to me about politics, or asked my opinion about the war. I've gone from blogging pretty much for me to contributing occasional posts at TrueNorth, with the likes of Captain Ed and Mitch Berg. Just seeing my name with theirs gives a certain thrill.
Maybe it's more a loss of the sense of being in the middle of something important. When I was in Iraq, doing the daily grind of combat, folks at home hung on my every word, simply because I was over there. Scott Johnson of Powerline organized a bookdrive for me and my soldiers because I was over there. 447 different people sent me books and care packages, (including a two year collection of Penthouse) because I was over there. I helped organize an Appeal from 3000 servicemembers to Congress to win the war, and folks listened because I was over there. The StarTribune, despite it's liberal reputation, published a column from me on the front page of the Sunday Op-Ed section (they even offered to pay me) because I was over there. I had butterflies in my stomach for three days preparing for a radio interview on AM 1280, my local talk radio station, because I was over there.
Now I'm home, the dream I had been dreaming for 22 months. My wife still loves me, my children are in awe of me, and I am suffering from loss of importance syndrome.
I chuckled during the debriefings we had to sit through when they told us that some of us would likely find a way to get back to Iraq. Who is that dumb, we all thought? But one of my soldiers told me last week that he was thinking of volunteering to go back over with a different unit. I didn't say it, but I understood his thinking perfectly.
Any Trekkie worth his salt will remember the original episode where the 'bad guy', Ricardo Montablan, quotes John Milton, 'better to rule in hell than serve in heaven'. Something in me has always resonated with that line, though I couldn't explain why. But maybe the modern day equivalent is 'better to be a Private in Iraq, than a factory worker in America'.
For all it's hardships and dangers, being in a war is being at the heart of the big story, being important when you wouldn't otherwise be.