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I Live In The Suburbs Now. All I Want Is The Thrill Of Deployment Again
I bought my first house this year in an up-and-coming neighborhood. I know it’s up-and-coming because half the houses on my street are being remodeled, and recently a guy was tasered twice by police down the street.
As cars sped past my living room, I went outside. I was angry they were speeding because I walk my dog on that road and it was dark. I wanted to protect my dog from the idea of a threat, even though he wasn’t in danger at that moment. I saw blue and red emergency lights reflecting off the nearby houses, but cars and trees were obscuring whatever it was they were doing.
I heard a voice over a loudspeaker telling someone to exit a car with their hands on their head. The voice was commanding, but a little uncertain. It repeated itself: “Put your hands on your head!” Excited, I climbed on top of my too-big steel smoker to get a better view.
The shots that followed sounded like little .22 pistols, but cops don’t carry those. I got down from the smoker and was concealed in the darkness of my backyard as I listened for what came next. I heard the humming sound of a closed electrified circuit and radios squawking. I went inside.
After a moment, whatever had happened outside seemed to be over, but I still felt excited. The adrenaline of merely witnessing it made me miss my old life — one I lived in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I found myself savoring the feeling. I haven’t found anything to replace it. I don’t think any of us really have. Motorcycling comes close, because it requires a certain constant multi-tasking focus to keep you from dying that is both encompassing and routine. It’s familiar.
I came back from Afghanistan to fruitlessly try to stop my divorce. I’ve been home — whatever that means — for a year and a half, but I miss having a purpose.
I'd go back, but I'm not young and naive anymore. I was 20 years old the first time I went to Iraq. I was 30 when I left for Afghanistan. It was what I knew. But, it’s not the same when you’re a contractor. If you're not forced to be there, to willfully enter that world, maybe you have to be young, naive, or worse.
So I stay home. I go to work. I make my mortgage payments and try to figure it out like all of us. I care for my dog, because he depends on me, like my Joes once did in a different life. It’s familiar.
I'll ride my motorcycle to feel familiarity: the ever-present danger, the sensation of weather on my body, the juxtaposition of my agency versus my sense of utter helplessness. There is no danger in my life now that I do not create myself. In another life, my face was always reddened by the sun, but now I have to make time to be outside of my office. The extreme highs and lows of my once life are replaced by mundane comfort.
Maybe wanting to go back to war is similar to how we date a type. I know from divorce counseling that we pick a partner not because it’s someone we need, but because it’s someone that's familiar. This is so we can relive and deal with past trauma. And we won't ever change, not really. It's too late. Your past created you and it's inescapable.
But you can look for signs of your past, work toward understanding it, and prepare for the future. So I think about the old unknown world and remember when I traveled so far to find it, not knowing that it was already behind me.
These days, when I catch violence, I think about times thankfully passed and yearn for a future that’s familiar.
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.