That’s how I felt when I got back. It seemed like I’d had a year of my life interrupted; taken away. I wanted it back. In a way, I had the “luxury” of that option since I’d spent my time finishing up my college degree before being so rudely interrupted by Iraq, and with that mission accomplished I had no pre-established job or career path to get back on. Obviously I had to get into employment at some point but at the same time I had what felt like a good excuse to take my time about it.
Coming home and having some time is useful. The Army even has a name for it: “dwell time”. Time to assimilate your experiences into your life before resuming your regular routine. It’s a weird time. A few days or weeks ago, you were being shot at or dodging IEDs (roadside bombs), now you pick up with your school or job or family. It’s surreal, and we had it better than some of the Vietnam guys coming back, who did not always have the luxury of a nearby base to fall back to for a month of cleaning weapons and turning in vehicles, then a few days at a de-mobe site. I’d heard stories of guys who’s time was up and they were flown right out of combat zones and back in their home town within a week. That had to be jarring.
In BOHICA Blues, Joe was taken from studies at the nearby University, Boise State University. He knows classes are coming in fall but instead of looking for work until then, he’s planning to put his feet up and try to relax his way back into normal for a bit. It’s nice to have that luxury, but I know from experience that too much “dwell time” can also result in closing yourself off. It’s a hard balance to strike.