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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Struggle

So, I have to say this week was by far one of the hardest weeks of my life...

They say time heals all wounds, but for me, it seems that the longer I wait and the more time that has passed, the harder it gets.

Marines are supposed to be the toughest men on Earth, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm struggling.  This week was especially hard because Tuesday was the 8th of the month.  My guys were killed on the 8th of September, 2009.  I'll admit that this week was filled with lots of tears, bad days and bad thoughts.

It seems that I have not accepted that my team is dead, which sounds crazy.  I've verbally stated that they are dead, I've shared the details of that day in Ganjgal Valley countless times with many people, but in my heart it's as if the reality hasn't hit me, yet.  It just seems like a bad dream that I'll eventually wake up from.

To avoid thinking about it I try to keep myself busy; running from it as long as possible, but I will say I'm getting really tired.  I'm slowing down.  What isn't slowing down though is the demons, the reality that my brothers, my best friends are gone... GONE... Gone forever. 

But what do you do?  Sit at home and cry?  Lay in bed?  Not eat?  Feel sorry for yourself?  I don't know.  I don't pretend to know. All I do know to do is to keep breathing and keep taking one step at a time, and sometimes that takes all my effort.  Feeling the loss of five of the most important people in my life isn't enough, though.  I also have to deal with knowing that I am a failure, and I failed them.  But I keep thinking that if I can continue pushing myself, in their names and in their honor, I will earn their forgiveness for not being there and saving them.  Hopefully, they will, someday, at least understand the reason I let them down...

I accept the responsibility of being a failure.  I hold myself accountable everyday and let everyone know that a failure is what I am; not a hero, as so many people have called me.  I cringe when I hear that word.

Everyday, and especially on the days when I don't even want to get out of bed, I look down at my wrists and I see their names and I know I have no choice but to push on in their honor and for sacrificies they gave!!! 

RIP
 Lt Michael E. Johnson, GySgt Aaron Kenefick, GySgt Edwin Johnson,
PO3 "Doc" James Layton, SFC Kenneth Westbrook.
Never Forgotten

Semper Fi,
Dakota

47 comments:

  1. Wow, Dakota. Powerful post, and I hope you're eventually able to deal with your demons.

    I had to write a similar one after watching Act of Valor. Stan R. Mitchell

    I served my time with 1st Bn, 8th Marines, from '95 to '99. Back then, there wasn't much action to see, but we saw some in Albania. Enough to earn us a Combat Action Ribbon, which back then was nearly impossible to earn. And while I didn't see 1/100th -- not even 1/1,000th -- of what you saw, I've learned that we all have our demons that we have to fight. And I think it's best if we try to share it and talk it out in posts such as the one you've written above.

    Semper Fi, brother. Thanks for sharing this post, and for all you're doing now. While I know you'll never feel it, I don't think anyone -- nor any objective outside observer -- would say you let your fellow brothers down. You've got to accept that it was a terrible situation and you did the best you could. And you've got to believe that you did FAR MORE than many would have done in the same situation.

    You're a warrior, man. One of our country's finest.

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  2. You have to believe you will be reunited with them again someday, but in the meantime your purpose is the help others overcome their demons in order that you can overcome your own. You will find the answer...

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  3. Dakota, I cheered when you started this blog and have been reading since you began. I don't have answers but here are my thoughts...you do what you need to do to get through the day. And that may change from one day - or one moment - to the next. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to beat the snot out of something, go find a punching bag (literally) and do it. As long as you're not hurting yourself or those around you, do what you need to do to vent that grief. That's what it is - grief.

    I've not lost friends in combat like you have but I've walked the road of grief a few times and, even though the scenery is different, the path is often similar. Denial is a rough one to get through because it kind of shields you from the pain that comes with acceptance. But it's part of the process and there's nothing wrong with it. Your brain is just trying to protect you and it sounds like it's trying to protect you from some pretty awful stuff. But you're working through it, even if it doesn't feel like it. This blog post, the fact that you're doing your best to take those steps - even though they do take all of your effort sometimes - those are evidence that you're working through this. Sometimes, the only way through this is through brute force and sheer force of will.

    As for the hero label...I can't understand truly but I get it on an intellectual level. In my mind, a hero isn't someone who survives a horrific event, a hero is someone who went willingly, knowing that such horrific events might occur. A hero is someone who, when faced with an unimaginable situation, does the best he or she can and then continues to do the best he or she can when they come back. If the tables were turned and you had died and one of the people whose names are on your wrists had lived, having done the best that he could have done, would you call him a failure?

    You are not a failure. You are NOT a failure.

    I've watched several friends and their families go through similar fights, having lost close friends in combat. I wish there was a way to take away the pain you are feeling and the guilt that you carry. Please know that there are many people out here praying not only for you but for the families of your friends. You keep them alive for us. Thank you for that.

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  4. Hi Dakota, I read your feelings, I was very touched, as lose friends that way is not easy to bear, the loss is great and the pain too. Should not be having these situations, wars, or events created by man, accompanied him in his feeling for his lost companions and certainly very young beginning life. Honored him with all those people who have already left, for a better tomorrow. I hope your heart is full of peace and pink lightning angels sent to help him. My father was Italian ally of the world 2da.guerra also suffered greatly, hardly talked about it, but we grew up with that feeling of peace protect primarily and always seek happiness. May God accompany you always. A big hug.
    ANA.

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  5. Stay faithful to your beliefs.

    To quote Gunnery Sergeant Walgreen, "Those of you who made this hump, good on you. But those of you who pushed, pulled, dragged, and carried other Marines...you are what this Marine Corps is all about."

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  6. You are not a failure. You need to stop believing that first. My only advice to you is to turn to the one who loves you more than anyone on this earth. God will help you get through this if you let Him.

    Just let Him.

    I'll be praying for you.

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  7. Keep the faith my brother, Rick Nappier, Combat Comm, USAF, 1979-1991

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  8. hey buddy- I had 9/11 PTSD as a Law Enforcement in lower manhattan on 9/11; lost close family friend & HIS best friend (civilian workers!) and 2 NYPD buddies, got their names on my shoulder. You WILL survive this illness as long as you get appropriate care and take meds as directed. Having PTSD/Depression/ anxiety is NOT a character fault and can happen to lowly LEOs as well as you MARINES. Nothin to be ashamed of, the shame is in NOT getting the help you need. I'm still takin sum med 10+ yrs later & may betakin em entire life. You WILL enjoy life again!! I too had the guilt. The important thing is that you ARE HERE, perhaps to teach others about your experience. Ya gotta talk to somebody. Just do #ptsd on twitter to find some good folks. Your family is blessed to have you and they need you! Thank u for your service, my deepest condolences on the loss of your friends. take life step by step, day by day. You will beat this!!

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  9. You are not alone! You are admired in all corners of this country. You are reaching out, and that is awesome. But you need the help of a pro. The things you are struggling with, you will always struggle with. You need a trained specialist to help you manage those struggles. You deserve to be at peace.

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  10. Tonight a beer in honor of your fallen comrades. One old soldier to a Marine - *salutes.

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  11. As a fellow marine , you have to know that any one of them would have tried just as hard as you and had the same outcome. Maybe things didn't work out for them but you have to believe they know you tried your best for your brothers as they would have for you. They are probably sitting around in the beer garden having a cold one telling each other " that f'n Meyer , Semper-Fi do or die. He tried bro' " I am sure they miss you as much as you miss them. But never for a second think you're brothers feel you let them down. You need to be their light here to keep their memory alive, tell yours and their story. Let them look down and be proud of their brother. I cannot begin to know your pain, but hopefully you can find some good guys to talk with to help with coping. But know that all of us Marines , Patriots and fellow Americans are proud of you and your brothers for your sacrifice. Semper-Fi

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  12. Reading this made me cry-Dakota, you are NOT a failure! Bad things happen and in war, VERY bad things happen. We may not always understand why and often they are hard to accept. Please know you have so many people who care for you and pray for you. I pray for you and all your fellow Marines and other service men and women who have had to deal with loss. Previous posters are correct that what you are feeling is more than normal and it is NOT a shame to ask help of someone to help you find ways to cope. God is there when no one else is, and He is your refuge & strength, a very present help in trouble. Much love and I will continue to pray for you!!!

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  13. You Dakota are not a failure. Sadly the world we live in fails to make peace. You are but of tool of this stupidity called war, where innocent people like you are forced to account for decisions that are not yours.
    You are a hero as hard and as difficult as that seems to you are you mourn your friends. They say that mourning takes a minimum of 3 years and only then does time help make it a big easier.
    I don't believe that time takes away the pain.
    My time and you being kind to yourself slowly but surely help you cope.
    My love and prayers to you and all those in your position.
    Adriane

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  14. People call you a hero because they know what you did & have arrived at their own conclusions. In the great scheme of things, it doesn't matter whether you accept it or not. In fact, you're not supposed to. Only God knows how many unheralded heroes there are that have walked among us, & a true hero will question how noble his actions were, but what you did serves to inspire the nation & that is a necessary thing for our society.

    As for how responsible you feel, as I understand the events I don't see how you could have avoided the massive ambush that took the lives of the four men you fought through to save, or the one that later succumbed to his wounds. You acted as a hero, but you aren't expected to be God. I think I understand your feelings, but there is only so much one can do.

    There can be many reasons, & justified, why you haven't yet reached the point of resolving your feelings, but one day it will come, & you will fully grieve. That at least has been my experience: I sank to my knees & cried, & finally moved on. Your grief will stay with you -- that is a burden that we bear through life, but I hope that it will be lighter & in perspective. God does not give us burdens that we cannot bear.

    Are you in contact with CPT Swenson? Check in with him -- it might help the both of you. And I hope that he receives the recognition he deserves, for more than one reason.

    Persevere, & Semper Fi

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  15. Of all things you are not, you are NOT a failure!! You are the epitome of what all Marines strive to be.
    If Lt Michael E. Johnson, GySgt Aaron Kenefick, GySgt Edwin Johnson, PO3 "Doc" James Layton, and SFC Kenneth Westbrook could somehow tell you, they would say you are most honorable in your actions on that horrible day and you deserve peace the rest of your days on this Earth.
    Live your life proud. Live your life as your mates would want nothing less for you.
    Semper Fi brother.

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  16. You are a man that did the best you could and it was pretty damn good. NOT a failure. {{{Hugs}}}

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  17. "keep breathing and keep taking one step at a time, and sometimes that takes all my effort."

    You're absolutely right--on the hardest days that's all that is expected of you--keep breathing and keep moving. I know you have people who love you, and when it seems the darkest, remember them and stay here for their sakes.

    I wish I could give you a hug, or find a magic wand to wipe away the darkness and the pain. The thing is, they both WILL pull back eventually. Do whatever you need to keep breathing and moving one more day. Each day is closer to the days of answers you can live with, and greater light and peace.

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  18. Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy ~ Eskimo Proverb

    Sometimes, one has to remain behind so that they can share the valiant story of those who were taken. Without you, how many would even remember their names?

    I pray that your heart and mind will one day be soothed. Because of you, your friends live on.

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  19. Dear Dakota. Your words resonate because they are exactly like mine in the early years after our son died. My prayers for your continued strength, hour by hour, in memory of your wonderful team/brothers. v/r Anita Brenner.

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  20. Dakota, I've been where you are now. I didn't lose my entire team, but I had troops die in my arms as I tried to get them to breath just one more time before medics could get there. I blamed myself for six years before getting help and realizing that nothing I did could have helped them.

    I got a great piece of advice from a Vietnam Veteran I met through counseling. He told me to ask myself an honest question during times like these from the perspective of my battle buddies who died to ensure I lived: If they could speak to me, would they want me to feel bad about being alive and telling their story or would they want me to be happy?

    Dakota, you're a good man and a good Marine. We have a program here in Texas called StrongSTAR that also taught me how to cope with survivor's guilt. Those thoughts will never go away, but they can be managed.

    I feel for you, brother. You're going to have those days. Lean on the people you trust - family, close friends, whomever. You don't have to face it alone. There's is nothing weak or "unmanly" about admitting that some things we can't control.

    When speaking with another Vietnam Veteran I met in Alabama, I confided in him that I was tired of always crying like a baby when I thought of those men that didn't make it home. He said that my first problem was that I needed to recognize I wasn't crying like a baby. I was crying like a man, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

    I hope you find positive ways to deal with what I know is a difficult mental battle. I can promise you, though, that you CAN win.

    -CJ Grisham, MSG, US Army

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  21. Dakota, I also wanted to share a few books that have helped me cope as well that I think will help you. I'm sure you've read "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell. If not, please do. He has a new book out as well called "Service" that is equally good. I also recommend "Get It On!" by Keni Thomas about his experience in Somalia and losing much of his team.

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  22. Dear Dakota,

    Reading your post brings tears to my eyes. You are not a failure! You volunteered to serve your country knowing that we are at war. You went in not knowing, but perhaps fearing what the outcome would be. Yet, you went in willingly. That sir, makes you a Hero in the truest form. You did not run nor shy away from serving in the Marine Corps. You went to war and did the best you could do. Your job now is to make sure everyone knows and remembers that your Marine brothers are also Heroes. Never let us forget. Your Marine brothers are counting on you to keep their memory alive.

    I also pray that God wraps his loving arms of comfort around you and brings you peace.

    Semper Fi
    A Marine Mom of a Infantry Marine
    Roxanne

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  23. Dakota
    You embodied everything a Marine wants to be both on and off the battlefield. This post above all has again proven that you Dakota are what humanity should be most proud of. We are here for a little while, what we do with our lives is very important. Your team is with you Marine, always. They are with you now as you struggle. Lean on them in spirit and know that they do love you. Please Dakota do not give up, the world needs a man like you.


    Semper Fi

    Jorge

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  24. I can tell you, the tat with their names was not a good idea if you want to cope with it.
    Sure it's a sign of respect. You don't need to be a walking tombstone....that will just keep the 8th in your current memory the rest of your life. Consider covering it.
    You are right about the longer life goes on the harder it gets, and getting tired of running is a good analogy.
    The memories won't go away, but don't help them stay.
    John W. Army Infantry 1977-1998. Desert Storm. Friendly Fire witness.

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  25. Dakota, what you're describing does not sound crazy at all to me. You'd have to be crazy to go through what you did and not be affected by it. And you are not a failure. I think Mother Theresa said something along the lines of how God doesn't require success, only that we do the mission. A failure isn't someone who tried and couldn't, but a person who could and didn't.

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  26. Dakota, Thanks for sharing your story. I wasn't able to save my son, who did three deployments to Iraq in the Marines 2000-2005. He made it home, but suffered with PTSD and survivors guilt. He had wanted to extend his enlistment but I talked him out of it. Several months later, he lost eight of his crew and he never got over it. I wish I had let him do what he wanted, I wish alot of things. I made a page for him called In memorium to Sgt. Joseph Tanner Cochran, if you want to know more about him. He went thru so much and self treated with alcohol. January this year he died in a jail cell after arrested for DUI and his death called a suicide, but is still under investigation by GBI. I tried to help him, but feel that I let him down. Please call me if you or any other soldier wants to be heard, but doesn't want to burden family members. If I can do anything for someone else's son, it would help my broken heart. My name is Rita and I worked as a RN for thirty years til I had to retire for health reasons. I'll never get over losing my wonderful son, but I really want to help others if I can. My email is semperfihorse@yahoo.com and phone number is 256-632-2113
    God bless you for all you did and all you are doing to help others.

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  27. Dakota, I've seen some images of you and I could tell in those images you were having these same feelings and thoughts. You are in my heart and I've been praying for you since I first seen your face (expression).

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  28. Dakota,
    I would gladly offer my services to help you move forward. You will not be the first combat Marine I have worked with... and I know you will not be the last.

    Contact me and let's get started.

    www.warriorlifecoach.com

    All the best,

    Beau Chatham
    CEO & Tribal Leader
    Warrior Life Coach

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  29. I feel incredibly pretentious for even making this comparison at all since my circumstances don’t even come close to your ordeal, but September 8, 2009 was also the day when my life drastically and unexpectedly changed. Since then, I’ve also struggled with the same issues. How do you even begin to move on? When will it stop hurting? Why did this happen to me? How could I have done things differently? Those questions plague and debilitate me still some days. One of the factors that led to my ordeal was that I’d made the ill-advised decision to drop out of college, even though I had really thrived there, a week before that day. I had nothing to do but wallow in self pity and I did all those things, not eating, staying in bed, bawling my eyes out at the slightest reminder, that they say not to. I sometimes look back on that fall and wonder how I’m still sitting here.
    Everyone around assured me that time would heal me, and that is true. However, it is also true that things get worse before they get better. It felt like for every few steps I took in the right direction, I was knocked back by a reminder or new development in my saga. But, I was making progress, even though it certainly didn’t feel like it at the time. I returned to school that spring and now realize that some of those unexpected changes, though they cost me dearly at the time, were for the better. The pain is certainly still there and it doesn’t take much to remind me of it. A broken heart is like a shrapnel wound. You can collect most of the pieces, and the wounds will heal, but there’s always that one piece that reminds you how much it hurt.
    As hard as it is to bear sometimes, I think we need those moments once in a while. They remind us what we have overcome, what we are fighting for, and why we have to keep fighting every day. I sure you get tired of hearing praise for something you feel you did wrong and that is perfectly normal. Forgiving yourself is the hardest part of the process and something I continue struggle with. At the very least sometimes, you have to remind yourself that there are people around you that you didn’t fail and will support you now matter how bad things get. I owe my life to those people around me and thank God that they didn’t give up on me, even though I had. From the words of another reluctant hero like yourself, hang tough!

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  30. I hate to keep writing, Dakota, but I wanted to share a few blog posts I wrote recently when I was where you are right now. I hope they help you:

    http://militarygear.com/asp/2010/09/17/when-depression-takes-over/
    http://militarygear.com/asp/2010/09/20/when-depression-takes-over-part-ii/
    http://militarygear.com/asp/2010/09/28/when-depression-takes-over-take-your-life-back-dont-take-your-life/

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  31. Hang in there, Marine. I'm a Marine Viet Nam vet and I'm acquainted with many other combat vets of Iwo Jima, the Chosin, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I can tell you three things which might help:

    1] You're not alone. Talk to other combat vets of any era. We understand each other better than anyone else can.

    2] We all carry the grief and guilt. Losing people you love as much as your own blood and feeling as if we should have done more or shared their fate is a common thread amongst us.

    3] It never goes away but it does get easier to bear. I know.

    A Marine Lieutenant in Viet Nam described courage as "Enduring for one more minute." I know you can do that. Semper Fi!

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  32. Dakota, I thank you for your honest words here, and I am so very sorry that you have had to go through all that you have gone through, and so very sorry for the loss of your brothers Many of you who serve or have served are my heroes; I have seen so much strength, courage and humility displayed that it is difficult to call you guys anything but heroes. From persons like you, to persons known who have endured great hardship and suffering in these wars, to wounded warriors who keep moving forward despite terrible wounds. They all, and you display amazing courage, strength and humility. I understand your reluctance to accept that title, yet for me it is one I give you nonetheless.
    Heroes do not always win, they do not always achieve victory, and they often lose friends to death and even die themselves in attempting to do what ever it is they do. I so very much wish your story had turned out in the glorious manner of some stories, where your actions that day did in fact save the lives of your friends, where you actions that day achieved a huge victory against the enemy, and everyone came home to talk about it for years and years, sadly that is not the case, but your actions that day did make a difference.
    You are not a failure son. God be with you, God grant you all strength and courage as you work out these things that trouble you. I am praying for you Dakota Meyers.

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  33. This is a wonderful poem, called The Things I Carry.

    http://iwvpa.net/marksm/the-thin.php

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  34. It's such a strange thing, what we endure. You were there for a purpose and carried out your duties above and beyond. Nothing more can be asked of a Marine.

    I don't know you personally, but as a Sergeant of Marines, I feel I've known you my whole life. Its an invisible bond we hold together that no other human on earth could understand without walking a mile in our "boots."

    Your sacrifice puts my own personal pain in perspective and tells me to be stronger for others, as the fight is never over.

    I served in Al Taqaddum and Al Qaim in 2006 and lost two Marines in flight from HMLA-169 (Huey and Cobra)

    Please stay strong and remember many others are with you. As a Marine I look up to you, so never give in, never.

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  35. For me the hardest part about recovery was facing the families of the Fallen. I thought that they had blamed me for their deaths, but in the end, they would accept no apology from me, and instead thanked me for my efforts on their behalf.

    Your life may not make sense. You may not find reason for your unlikely survival, you may wish daily that it had been you, and not them. That is a trade you can not make. The only thing you can do today, is to live. The pains you feel may not go away, they never really went away for me, but I have also found joys too.

    The best advise I can give you for these times, when you get to thinking too much, give yourself impossible tasks and make them your bitch. Find a barrier, professional, personal, or physical, and break it.

    Sometimes all you can do is Drink Water and Drive on.

    Charlie Mike Brother.

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  36. Mr. Meyer, I'm a nobody. I've never served in the military. I've never lost a friend or brother in combat. I've never sacrificed like you have. I don't know what that's like; I can only imagine, and I'm certain that my imagination cannot do it justice.

    All of that said, you are not a failure, Mr. Meyer. You may be many things, but you are not a failure. I hope that someday you will come to recognize that.

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  37. Hey there Dakota.

    I've never been in the military. I'm simply a proud American, who has been following your story, and has been praying that you find the peace you deserve.

    They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and I believe it's true. I know your heart is heavy Dakota, but you must know and believe that you are loved by so many, especially after reading these heartfelt posts.

    It is very comforting to know that you are in this world Dakota. You are making a difference in ways you probably don't allow yourself to notice as extraordinary. That's your humble nature.
    You possess a strength of character that many wish they had. No pressure there Dakota....it's the truth.

    I know how horrible depression and grief can be on the mind, body, and soul. Then, from left field, the demon adds self-doubt, and the quagmire becomes too enormous for words. A new dimension to the original challenge has been introduced, and we unfamiliar with this prickly territory. You find yourself standing in the middle of the steel cage. Dakota, you must put on the fightin' gear, and keep punching and kicking to find the Dakota you remember. You must keep fighting, and eventually, you WILL find him. And when you do, you'll look in the mirror and recognize the smile, see the sparkle in your eyes again, and have a new-found zest for life....because Dakota, your glorious journey is not over.

    All I know is this....you were meant to be here Dakota. I have no doubt in my mind of that fact. You will continue to do great things, and your humble and kind nature will be intact.

    I am one of many who believe in you Dakota. I'll be cheering for you (minus the pom-poms), and praying for you always.

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  38. Thanks for the post, Dakota.

    It's so important that all our brothers and sisters in arms know about the psychological scars that our military service can leave--nobody needs to suffer feeling they are alone. With your words, you've done another great service to us all.

    Wishing you great healing and happiness!

    Eric Walrabenstein
    Former Captain, U.S. Army Infantry
    President, YPGW
    bootstrapusa.com

    P.S. We've helped a great many of our returning warriors heal from the mental and emotional toll of combat using the BOOTSTRAP Life Restore system. It's a home-based program tailored for service members and veterans that can be done on your own time. I'd be happy to send you a free kit if you would like. Just email me at eric@bootstrapusa.com and I'll overnight one to you.

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  39. Should definitely write a book dude...writing is obviously a good way to vent, and books can make a living.

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  40. Dakota,
    no one will understand what you're going through unless they've been through the exact thing themselves. What you went through and what you're going through is both a blessing and a curse and its a burden you'll have to carry on your shoulders for the rest of your life. It's up to you and only you to learn how to cope with that weight. From those of us on the outside, you're doing an amazing job and we all support and love you.

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  41. Dakota,

    I have read your post countless times. Each time, as many others have said above, I just want to tell you that there is nothing about what happened that day that makes you a failure. Absolutely nothing.

    My heart aches for those of you who chose to answer the call to serve our nation. We, as a nation, have sent you into war where you see and do things that aren't what a loving human should have to do. We, as a nation, OWE YOU the time and ability to be able to process and over come (as best you can) any emotional baggage these deployments heap on you.

    I've never served in the military. My privilege and honor has been to be allowed to support those of you who deploy and your families.

    You are a human being. You have a spirit and a soul. PLEASE take care of those. If you haven't already, and I'm sure you have, please find someone you trust so that you can talk to them anytime of the day or night. NEVER be afraid to talk to reach out to them no matter the hour of the day or night. Needing to reach out is NOT a sign of weakness. Actually it is a true sign of strength and character. Don't be afraid to show emotion if necessary. The worst thing you can do to yourself and those you love it to hold in any emotion that is negative. I hope this post, while so difficult for us to read and, I'm sure very difficult for you to have written, is, to me, a sign that, although you are hurting so deeply, you are reaching out. I applaud you for that.

    I hope that the words written above by combat Veterans have been helpful to you and that you have, or will, consider their offers to help. No one other than those who have been in harms way can help you more.

    Although I don't know you personally I guarantee you this - YOU MATTER TO ME.

    I am a close personal friend of Sal's. He and I have had many disussions about, not only what happened that day on the mountain when his actions earned him the MoH but also about all that comes with being singularly awarded the MoH. It is a huge burden. I just want you to know there are many of us out here who know (as best we can) how difficult that burden can be.

    Just as with Sal and so many others I know who have seen and been a part of events that human being shouldn't have to see and be a part of, I pray and hope that you will find a way out of your darkness. You have so much living to do and so much to give (as you already are) to yourself, your community and any other realm in which you CHOSE to give.

    As someone said above, each of those Heroes who died that awful day, if given the chance, would tell you to LIVE!

    With much respect and love,

    Leta

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  42. You ARE A HERO IF YOU DONT FEEL LIKE ONE YOU ALL EVERY SINGLE MAN AND WOMAN WHO FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY IS A HERO!!

    SEMPER FI
    IM GLAD THERE STILL MARINES LIKE YOU
    THE CAVEMAN

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  44. Dear Sir,
    If you think you are not tough, may I suggest you rethink what tough truly is? Tough does NOT mean unfeeling nor does it mean unaffected by pain. Tough is exactly what you described: feeling weak, feeling a failure, being crushed by pain...and still persevering. Your very survival of this pain is evidence of your strength. I am grateful for the toughness you possess, even if you are blind to it.
    Please know you do not suffer alone. God endured absolute pain and complete failure on the cross. God joins you in this darkness, suffering within your suffering. And I pray that God, who has endured all failure and pain, will transform your darkness to the unexpected light of resurrection.
    Blessings to you, sir. My heart goes out to you.

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  46. Pretty bleak morning after the terrorist attacks in Boston. I’ve been out of the Corps since March 2005 and yet I’ve been wrestling since I heard the news yesterday with feelings of guilt and failure. Your post about perseverance was exactly what I needed this morning. It doesn’t make it all better or go away. But it reminded me that as a United States Marine there is nothing we cannot endure. Thank you, brother.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Sean Huze

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