I lay on my bed and there's silence

The only thing filling my ears is my ceiling fan,

The blades spinning, creating a light breeze in my home

*whoosh, whoosh, whoosh*

The faint sound hypnotizes me into slumber


They're helicopter blades.

Spinning so fast that they kick up the sand of the desert

Men having to duck their heads as they enter and exit

Gunfire.

Bullets zooming toward us with intensity

Men dodging and taking cover as fast as our reflexes let us

Grabbing at our weapons with haste,

Cautious to avoid being a bull's eye

We start shooting in defense

Our bullets going as fast as theirs,

Rhythmically exiting the chambers with every load, mimicking a metallic drum-roll

Men fall left and right,

Enemy and hero alike

BOOM

The helicopter dissipates,

Leaving nothing but metal shrapnel behind

Shards cutting and entering our skin from not covering on time

The blades are gone,

Leaving nothing to clear the black clouds

Leaving us blind to our enemy, and them to us

More gunfire. More metallic drum-roll

Bullets aimlessly entering our wake

Bullets meeting their targets,

Turning the sand from tan to red


I wake up.

Struggling to breathe and in cold sweat,

The beads hugging the scars on my face

Pulling my arms into my chest,

I graze over the circular scar above my collarbone

You're okay.

You're home now.

It was just a dream.

This. This is what our soldiers experience after they return home from overseas. This, among many others. Our heroes risk their lives to defend our country and allies, only to come home and be terrified in even the most familiar territory. Even the safest areas are a risk. Their best friends, now strangers. Some come home completely fine, but most? Not even a little; especially if they were in combat. The smallest things can set them off. Our soldiers, our veterans, aren't crazy. They're not overreacting. A part of them is still overseas. They're reliving every moment; the gunshots, the blood, their fallen brothers in arms.

These men and women deserve our respect and assistance. They deserve to feel normal again, despite everything they've been through. We can do our best, but they'll never be the same. There will always be ceiling fans, fireworks, and any loud noise. It's inevitable, but it's up to us to support them and to remind them that they're not over there anymore; they're home and they're safe.

Be understanding. Be loving. Be respectful of our soldiers. They've experienced something that most Americans could never imagine.


*Inspired by my dad, our family friend, and ALL brave soldiers suffering from PTSD.