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You Are Not What You Have

by Joseph Stanfill

The memories we carry with us do not have to define us, yet often they do. Some take decades to understand that. But how do we let go of those memories, those things which haunt us during the night, the ghostly shadows of our former lives as service members? The answer to this question is as different for each of us as are our individual experiences. Some will find the answers all by themselves, spending years discovering the variables to plug into the equation that is recovery from trauma, while others will also seek help from professionals. Regardless of how they finally manage to lay down their sword, put their demons to rest, and move forward with life, everyone is able to come out of traumatic experiences stronger, wiser, and more capable. You have the choice of living with the pain, holding it close to your heart, or stepping into the light and unburdening yourself from secret miseries. You are not a label, a diagnosis, or a broken soul. You are not what you have. You are much more than that. You are a person who deserves love, compassion, and happiness.

The phenomenon- known as post-traumatic growth, is what Blue Nostalgia is all about. In this volume you will find a trove of experiences scattered across generations. Each one of these authors has much more in common than simply the uniform of the United States Military. They each have achieved a certain perspective on life, have digested their terrors in their own unique way, and come out on the other side a more humble, whole, and inspired individual. Within this issue you will find the following offerings:

In, “And God So Quickly,” we learn how a routine patrol under the sweltering sun of Viet Nam and a simple picture can impact a man decades later as he searches through the faces on a college campus.

A simple stop for coffee in “The Healing Continues” thrusts a man back to the Middle East where a healthy fear kept him alive yet is not as useful back in the US.

“We Walk Among You” teaches us lessons on patience, a humble respect for strangers, and the power of saying goodbye to the all-mighty dollar.

An arduous trek through the jungles just off the coast of the South China Sea brings us a story of an American patrol encountering vastly superior forces. “The 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War with a Side of Memories” demonstrates the humor that keeps men and women charging hard when the going gets tough.

Finally, “Ten Years” gives us advice on how to put the war away in the attic of our mind, neatly boxed and categorized. Not for forgetting, but for safekeeping, and out of necessity for moving forward in life.

Traumatic experiences range from the most intense combat imaginable, to merely the perception of the threat of death. In other words, one person’s trauma is “just another day at the office” for someone else, or so the traditional way of thinking goes. Regardless of what the trauma is, we can move forward in our lives, with a little catharsis, introspection, and maybe a little help along the way. I hope you enjoy the works we have compiled here in this, the 3rd volume of Blue Nostalgia.