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Dealing with guilt

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Without going into details:
>7 years ago
>soldier in Iraq
>visiting a Iraqi army compound
>I'd had a gut feeling something was off the last couple times we visited
>we go in, LTs have a meeting with local commander, our other platoon was already there
>gut feeling's stronger than ever
>I ignore the urge to check rooms and pull security, telling myself the other platoon already did, as they're relaxed standing around
>so just bullshit with some of them as we typically work opposite rotations in our sector
>about 15 minutes later(this all happens behind my back, others saw), one of the Iraqi army guys came in from their check point, went into their barracks room, told the Iraqis to stay out of the courtyard, replaced his banana mag with a 75 round drum, came back out, quickly took aim and shot my best friend through the head
>the IA then sprayed the courtyard with his AK.
>the friend I was talking to tackles me to the ground, getting shot in the face in the process

All told, two men died, 6 more were permanently injured.

I watched the life fade from my best friend's eyes, he was right next to me.
Every day since then, I've been constantly plagued by what if. If I'd only acted on my gut, maybe I'd have been able to avert it, or at least lessen it.

I feel like my complacency is the reason it happened. For a long time I couldn't sleep without something to put me out, and even now, I see him die when I close my eyes.

How do I live with that? Do I even deserve to? I haven't even been able to bring myself to visit his grave.
>>
That's awefully horrible anon... I'm sorry.
Do you go to therapy? Cause shit like that would need a professional
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>>16454802
Dude this shit is too heavy for a chinese moving pictures board. You need to see a professional who can actually help you not a bunch of nerds on the internet.
>>
Bro, I'm so fucking sorry to hear that. As a grunt, i understand what you are talking about. I don't really know what encouraging words to give you because i understand your thinking on this situation, and I would feel the exact same way.

All you can do brother, just try your best to move on. I encourage you to visit your buddy, maybe it will give you some closure.
>>
I don't know if it helps to hear this, but I'm sure your best friend and the guy who saved your life wouldn't blame you, even if they knew you felt something was off.
Forgive yourself and go out and live a fulfilling life, if not for you own sake, then do it for their sake.
>>
I with the anons above. Maybe try to visit your buddy and straight up tell him how you feel? This might be relieving...
>>
nursing fag here, working psychiatric rotation right now.

OP from the sound of your description it sounds like your suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

You are feeling guilt about the situation that happened my friend. Please first off, do not blame yourself for what has occurred. Google your local psychatric facility and seek help. This is very common amongst returning veterans. Seeking help will help you cope with your situation. Seeking therapy or group aid does not mean you are weak, it means you are seeking to make amends for what has happened and to understand why it happened. Don't blame yourself friend, you are not at fault for what happened.
>>
>>16454806
>>16454809
>>16454813
>>16454837
I can't even type out anonymously without breaking down. I don't think I have what it takes to talk about it face to face with someone.

And I'm terrified of running into his family. He's buried next to another friend of ours, who died in an ied blast a couple months before. My friend was godfather, and legal guardian, of the other guy's kids. I don't know how to face those ghosts.
>>
>>16454851

Bro do you still have contact with any other buddies? Is there a way you could go togather? I really think the only way for you to clear this is to go visit them. It may be really hard, but I think that's gonna be the only way to clear your head.

When I was in Afghanistan one of best friends in my platoon got shot on our FOB by ANA. I beat myself because he had asked me if I wanted to go play soccer and I had said no because I wanted to watch a movie on my laptop instead. If I would have said yes, then maybe when the fucking ANA inside piece of shit started shooting I could have stopped him or something. Or at least protected my friend. I haven't gotten a chance to visit him in Ky, but I still feel terrible because of it.
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Not trying to sound like an ass, but do you blame the government for any of this ?

Iraq now being an 'illegal war' and arguably pointless on a moral level
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>>16454876

not OP, but shut up
>>
Go to his grave, I think.
Try to talk with the ghosts there, maybe that'd help.
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>>16454802
He gave his life to save yours. Intentionally or not, you need to respect that and stop dwelling on the what-if's.

Nothing can change the past.

I suggest you go to his grave. Shed some tears and (if appropriate) tell him you are thankful and you will not waste your life (the life he saved).

Hope things get better.
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>>16454802
damn son

In anycase, of course you deserve to live. If you had died saving someone else, you'd want them to go on living wouldn't you? It doesn't matter what could have been, what matters is making the best of what is.
>>
>>16454802
Dunno if you're still here OP.

Memory is weird. Feeling uneasy in the situation you were in would have been my default, and I'm sure you were uneasy in a hundred other situations where nothing bad happened. It's just that in light of what happened you're turning it into "oh I should have known, I could have done something". Playing this game is just a form of self-torture because of your feelings of guilt. I understand it, I've had my share of "if only I'd done something different" experiences (not war), but you have to realize what happened was out of your control. Even if you had acted differently, you don't know what the result would have been. You might have just ended up being the first casualty. You might have been in a different place and now be beating yourself up for "if only I had been there I could have changed things".

Your friend who died saving you wanted to save you. I'm sure he didn't want to die, but he DID want you to live. So live. Do something positive with your life. It doesn't have to be anything huge, just making sure that you can take care of yourself is a starting place from where you can do what small things you can to make the lives of others better.

If the families blame you at all for their sons being dead, that is misguided. It's much more likely the families would want to know that the guy they saved remembers and honors his friends.
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>>16454802
You are not alone and there is nothing unmanly about your feelings.

Read that sentence again. Say it out loud. It is true.

PTSD is the reaction of a totally normal human being to a dreadful experience. There would be something wrong with you if you didn't have this reaction.

The military knows about it. They have whole departments at VA hospitals and clinics devoted to it, and they know how to help. The only thing you have to do is take yourself to them.

Now, to be honest, the VA is sometimes overloaded and not the most efficient operation in the world. Look around you to unofficial vets' organizations to see if they have counselling or group meetings.

You don't know what relief and reassurance are until you sit in a room with other guys who have been there and know what you're talking about.

You are not alone and there is nothing unmanly about your feelings.
Thread posts: 16
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