CLARKSTON, Mich. — While US advisers slog their way across northern Iraq with sub-standard Iraqi forces and US troops once again deploy to the region, some veterans are reflecting on their own fighting of an un-winnable war against an ambiguous enemy they, unwittingly or otherwise, helped create.
"Yes, I can grow a beard, start my own t-shirt, coffee, flip-flop, or humor website, or even become a Fox News analyst, but the grass isn't always greener," said Jared Glossner, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who was honorably discharged in 2007 with a four-year engineering degree and nearly a dozen job prospects.
"The days of executing vague strategic directives with little to no accountability or tangible benefit to most Americans are but a distant memory."
Glossner, a former platoon leader and executive officer with the 10th Mountain Division, has been gainfully employed the last nine years and admittedly happily married to his high-school sweetheart. While he tells everyone he meets he is "blessed," Glossner told reporters that he secretly yearns to go back to fighting a faceless, nameless enemy for questionable-at-best reasons while being responsible solely for keeping his [containerized housing unit] swept.
"Man, I wish I could arbitrarily distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for infrastructure improvements that may or may have not been directly funneled to extremist groups," said Glossner writing a check for one of his family's multiple annual vacations. "Even if the money was going to Iran, or Syria, or Russia, or the CIA, my paycheck was still deposited into my checking account."
That's in stark contrast, Glossner says, to today's situation, in which he is measured against a specific set of metrics and paid based on how well he performs his job. To make matters worse, he added, almost every single cent of his paycheck is accounted for by his wife and spent responsibly on groceries, home improvements, and sporadic yet restful weekend getaways.
"Nowadays, companies have 'goals.' Managers expect 'results.' Customers want to be 'delighted," said Glossner from the comfort of his 2,500 square foot home in the rarefied air of the richest county in Michigan. "I would give anything to go back to maintaining my weapon and blowing my paycheck on bootleg DVDs in some third-world hellhole."
"I mean Jesus Christ," said Glossner, gesturing emptily to a desktop calendar completely filled with anniversaries, birthdays, and social obligations with friends and loved ones, "I just want to be part of something that matters again."
At press time, Glossner was seen staring at the wall of his windowless office daydreaming about his time in theater staring at a similarly windowless porta-potty wall.