CJTF Leave Policy
September 30, 2003
Anonymous Vietnam Vet
My wife and daughter asked me what I thought of the leave issue.
I told my wife (based upon my experience):
If it were me, I wouldn't take leave to come stateside.
I got 30 days free leave for extending my tour another 6 months in Vietnam.
I came back stateside for leave after I had been in country 15 months.
It was a mixed bag.
Sure it was good to see my folks and family.
But everything else was surreal.
People didn't know or care where I had been, what I had seen or that I would shortly return to my reality.
People have no grasp of the sacrifice, threats or responsibility assumed by those who serve.
Their interests and conversations are what kind of car, house, job, boss, family, vacation they had.
Their day to day lives are not remotely affected by the war or the existence/non-existence of those who serve.
For me, the realization that "life goes on - with or without you" was the icing on a soon to end surreal cake.
Returning to my reality overseas was tough. I knew, no matter, if I were heroic or not, lived or died, or what I did or didn't do, the outcome of the action I was part of wouldn't change in the least.
My heart wasn't in it anymore, I lost the edge.
That is why, if I were faced with your decision, I would not take leave to come stateside.
But that's just me and my idiosyncrasies.
Now if you could meet your wife in Kuwait, Greece or Italy that's a different story.