How can we employ men in peacetime whom we deployed in wartime?
If war requires the willingness to sacrifice life, peace requires the skills to live life. Because wartime requires the sacrifice of individuality, boot camp became the lobotomy of individuality. Because peacetime requires the rebirth of individualitv, reentry programs must help the veteran take his individuality out of hibernation.
In war, mistrust and paranoia are functional, at home, they are dysfunctional. Reentry programs must train to trust.
In war, a soldier’s crying and asking for help is virtually prohibited because attending to self would slow down his unit, in peace, the veteran must learn how crying creates not weakness, but strength – it strengthens his immune system by cleansing impurities; it strengthens his children by giving them permission to strengthen their immune systems by crying; it strengthens his family by making them feel part of the team rather than dependent on one person. In peace, the veteran can be taught the compatibility between self-help and the strength of his new unit – the family unit.
In wartime, family therapy and marital counseling distract from a nation’s survival; in peace, they’re necessary to reunite that which war tore asunder. Exactly why? Some examples. . .
One of the unrecognized problems of a soldier reentering his family is that a soldier has been learning he has no rights while his wife has been learning she has all the rights. That is, his wife created all her own orders and listened to her children only as she saw fit. Admiral Zumwalt was commanding in a war he opposed because even an admiral takes orders from superiors who take them from policymakers who themselves are supervised by voters’ votes and opinion polls’ updates. The soldier has been trapped in a constant fluctuation between the dichotomy of subservience and the appearance of dominance while his wife-as-mother, although she might have been called "just a housewife,’’ was nevertheless her own commander in chief, her own policymaker, the only vote that counted, and the only opinion poll that had to be tended to.
At the same time, training that Is functional for being a soldier is dysfunctional for being a parent. The soldier learns first to take orders without questioning, and then to give orders without being questioned while still taking orders without questioning. A father who trains his child to act without questioning traias the child well for wartime, but poorly for peacetime. In brief, family therapy’ and marital counseling are necessary to create family love iastead of family war
The job of the warrior Is to sacrifice his own rights to preserve the rights of others; to sacrifice his own ability to question authority so he might preserve the right of others to question authority. It is tempting, when war ends, to keep this cadre of self-sacrificers on hand The society’ that cares
about men, though, rebirths the individuality within each veteran. When we don’t, we are unconsciously caring more about our own security than a soldier’s life.
We become more secure, though, by training veterans to uncork emotions rather than liquor bottles, to prepare them for a home life rather than a prison life, to create fathers in families rather than fatherless families. A nation that cares retrains its veterans to ctoassociate war from career advancement; it does this by retraining the veteran so he has a better future if there is peace than if there is war.