Modern Warrior

The story and sound of a combat veteran's journey


By Jaymes Poling 

January 2017 - Entry #1

As a 29-year-old Junior at John Carroll University, I already feel as though I stand out a little. I’m almost 10 years older than everyone around me, except for our veterans group. The active core of the John Carroll Veterans Association is made up mostly of white males in their mid 20s who served in the Army and Marine Corps. For most of us, life before John Carroll revolved around the preparation for, and execution of warfare.

War, although complex today, is still tied heavily to instinctual evolution. For example, chimpanzees will conduct organized raids on neighboring chimp communities to increase the size of their territory. However, as we focus on the individual war fighter, war becomes much more primal. In the thick of the heaviest fighting, peripherals vanish, and you rely more on your true, undiscovered, animalistic nature. Or at least I did. 

This places me in a unique position as I find myself seamlessly oscillating between the traditional liberal arts conversations about US intervention in Latin America through the 20th Century, to a conversation with my guys about the serious lack of stopping power in the NATO 5.56mm round and how many times you must shoot someone before they cease to be a threat. As I look at the two worlds in which I live, I’m thinking of balance. This is because the veterans at John Carroll form the only consistent group of individuals I can speak freely around. To them, I will never be the guy that’s killed people in Afghanistan. To them I’m just Jay, the guy that networks too much, and is wasting my life sending emails. They provide a familiar social support as I ease back into civilian life. This isn’t to say that civilian communities are at fault for their inability to provide this. Even within the veteran community, we allow our labels to shape our interactions with each other. This just happens under the pleasant umbrella of a general commonality. I think one key to my successful transition began with the physical blending of these two social interactions, and continued internally with the melding of these two personalities. However, I still face challenges....