About three-quarters through the deployment, I could physically feel that my patience, or rather, my ability to be patient, had severely diminished. I found myself getting easily frustrated with things that I would have been able to manage much better earlier in the deployment. My patience had been eroded, but I was cognizant of it, and because I was aware of it, I was able to manage my own impatience (eh, some of the time).
Speaking with other leaders about this, they reported a similar phenomenon. The challenges of leadership coupled with the stress of deployment had chipped away at their mental stores.
And the deployment went on, and then we went home.
Despite the constant drum-beat during re-integration training that war has a significant effect on the psyche, the thought that “everything will be better when we get home” still lingers. While it’s true that the immediate danger is gone, the physiological changes that occurred and led to our being easily frustrated probably takes time to reset. It’s hard to imagine that the cumulative effect of nine months of deployed life (coupled with the tough training that preceded it) is wiped away simply by crossing enough time zones and setting feet down on American soil.
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