THE BLOG
01/16/2014 10:12 am ET Updated Mar 18, 2014

The Shovel and Questions for America

Catherine Lane via Getty Images

I wake up in the morning and feel like I've been hit in the face with a shovel.

I am baffled, disoriented, groggy and a little bit sore. I've got a headache.

I need you -- the American public who elected the officials that sent me to war -- to tell me why you wanted me to go? What do you think I accomplished? These are not rhetorical questions.

Do you still sleep safer at night knowing that in 2006-07, my life, my beautiful wonderful life, was interrupted by a war which had no ultimate objective that now sits as a colossal joke on history? Was it you who wanted Saddam Hussein gone so badly that you called your Congressman and begged him or her to vote for that war?

Were you, the American public, so invested in the rebuilding of Afghanistan that you called your Senator and begged him or her to continue to spend billions and trillions of dollars to bring democracy to one of the most harshly beautiful landscapes on our planet? Did you call that Senator again now and let him or her know that those service members who retire should now have their benefits cut so we can pay off our ill-conceived efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Or was it enough for you to send me to war so I could be introduced to amazing people, experience the absolute thrill and rush of combat, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose, and then write letters home to some of those people's families about why they died? Did you want me to be a better letter writer? Should I say thank you to you for sending me and giving me both the most profane and profound experience of my life?

Evidently, they died for me and I should not seek political validation for their sacrifice. Lt. Col. Daniel Holland, who was killed along with four others in 2006 on a patrol to help vaccinate sheep to promote a healthy agriculture sector in Iraq, died for me. The flip side of that logic is that he also vaccinated those sheep for me.

Nominally, however, I fought for you. All of you. The Republicans. The Democrats. Fox News and MSNBC. I fought for all of it. Nominally, I fought for this country, this physical landscape, this ideal of a Constitution and legal, if not actual, equality for all people. As Fallujah and Ramadi slide back into the obscurity of a far flung place racked by war, as chemicals leak into the rivers and land I fought for in West Virginia and everywhere else, I question your commitment America.

I am proud of what I did in Iraq, at least mostly, but are you? I am proud of the men and women with whom I served. I am proud of Lt. Col. Holland's commitment to the betterment of all through sheep vaccinations and the way he laughed and made others at ease.

But still, I wake up in the morning and I feel like a shovel has hit me, day after day after day. Perhaps I write like it to -- incoherent, rambling, angry.

But we can do better America. We can and we must. Can we use that shovel and our wealth of resources, people and capital, to build, to create, and to deliver the reality of the country and the ideals I fought for nominally, actually?