Wishing I Was Still In Afghanistan

Wishing I Was Still In Afghanistan

(This is not a suicide letter)

Tonight, as a United States Marine with 3 combat tours to Afghanistan, a Bronze Star w/ "V" for valor (heroism), Purple Heart, and 2 Navy Achievement Medals for actions in Afghanistan… I thought about SUICIDE. I didn't think about it because I thought life was too hard. I didn't think about it because I didn't think I could conquer whatever obstacle lies ahead. After all, what can stop a Marine…Nothing.

I thought about it because after all my years of service, training to fight and fighting on our nations behalf of freedom and safety I found myself not in service to my true calling, my obligation, my oath to protect this nation. I found myself laying on my barracks room floor, wishing I was still in Afghanistan. Remembering the harsh nights of rain, hail, and snow over our heads as our mud hut that we fought so hard to get, caved in on us… I truly missed those nights. For in that misery, among the cursing and laughter I felt my soul [if one could say we have one], at peace. I was serving my purpose. I was doing what needed to be done, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. All the talking and chest bumping couldn't put a man in my shoes that night. It was OUR night, the night of gladiators. But those days and nights have passed and as I go from one medical appointment to the next, not training Marines about things I've learned through blood and sweat, dealing with all the people who tell me what they would have done in war, getting all the advice from people who have never been on the receiving end of enemy fire on how to deal with my nightmares and of course being belittled by your local 1st Sgt, I think what is my purpose now? To wait around and be forgotten? To have my experience and expertise washed away in my mistakes?

As a Marine, as a defender of nations and preserver of freedom I feel misplaced with idol hands. I feel left behind by a country who promised me peace after war… As I laid on my floor thinking about it, I decided not to be one of the 22 (who committed suicide everyday). I decided that if the nation and Corps have forgotten about me then so be it. But they are not the world, or my end aspirations in life. And I want everyone of you veterans out there of every service to remember. Your life doesn't stop when your initial purpose is completed. You simply need to re-orientate and attack a new objective. Take the peace you have earned and go after your dreams that you have fought so hard to preserve.

If I help one veteran from giving the pricks the satisfaction then my courage in writing this message will have served its purpose.

Semper Fi,
Cpl Eric Stump

29 thoughts on “Wishing I Was Still In Afghanistan”

  1. Oooooohraaaaaah marine I must say very brave marine . I have passed this on to other Marines … Semper Fi and God Bless.

  2. Cpl. Stump, you you hit the nail on the head. We need to re-orientate and attack in a new direction. After returning from a tour in combat or after leaving the Marine Corps, we need to identify a new purpose or objective and continue moving forward. One thing that I learned as a Marine is to support myself and others. However, there are times when we need support which can be in many forms. I wish you well Marine. Semper Fi!

  3. Cpl. Stump — Hang in there. Things will get better. They did for me after Nam — I came home put my seabag in the attic and forgot about it. I never brought up my service or experiences to anyone. Your a Marine and you have learned to adapt and overcome. Doc Joy

  4. Once you start attacking you next “civi” goal, those around you that are not MARINES will not even understand your drive and perseverance. They have no clue of who, or what, we are. UNITED STATES MARINES There is nothing else like us…

  5. Cpl. Stump, Hang in there brother. Many of us have been in that same place. Stay the course. Find a group of veterans you can sit with & share your thoughts & feelings. You are not alone. Many veterans are there with you. Find your brothers. They will watch your back as always. They will share experiences & ways to help cope with you. In that group you will find what we all look for again. SEMPER FI !

  6. Being true to yourself and feelings makes you a wise man! Helping others maybe your next mission! I have a son whom is a Marine and family at home are wanting to understand but there is no way to do that unless we can see into your heart and learn from your words. Thank you for putting things in a way that gives me some insight to understand! God bless and thank you for your service. Keep telling us how you feel so we can understand and help you!

  7. Well said Cpl.Stump Semper Fi also in 1964/65 I was stationed in Iceland with A Cpl.Joe Stump any relation.

  8. keep helping each other. please dont forget thats what keeps me going on. that makes a old marine fell sad. never forget those who stould up for fellow marines and country thank you for serving. thanks for saving our way of life. thank you from my grandaughters. one is 3 the other is 12 years old. thanks for our freedom. may god bless you and your family.

  9. Cpl. Stump—Man I spent over 40 years hiding those feelings that you expressed so well. A tour in Nam messed up a lot of us Marines and we had those thoughts as you. Reaching out to those who will understand where you are coming from is a great mission for you and all of us who are still fighting that firefight . May God bless you with peace and love in your life—you fought for it and paid the piece for it. Semper Fi (until I die) my brother


  11. You’re not alone my brother. Get in touch with a group at the VFW, American Legion . Find your local chapter of Marine Corps League. You always find somebody that’s feeling the same way you do we are always here to listen

  12. Don’t worry Cpl Stump for you are not alone. I’ve been saying and thinking just about the same thing since I retired in ’85. But along the way I learned how to pass on my knowledge to my civilian counterparts as a semi Motorcycle instructor. I say semi as I have no formal education and at the time wasn’t certified. But I was also riding one of the first Honda GoldWing trike conversions and I was about the only one at most of our GWRRA rallies. I started enlightening fellow riders with various infirmities and getting older to the advantages of going triking. And it gave me great pride to be able to pass on my experiences. Then I started giving my expertise back to the Marine Corps, not as a Motorcycle Instructor, but teaching Skeet and Trap shooting, which I had learned back in ’66 while stationed in Okinawa, at MCB Camp Pendleton. Now I am fully retired and enjoying life. Just hang in there and pass on what you know to the younger generation.

  13. Well stated Cpl Stump. My memory drifted back RVN 68-69, Taste,smells,misery and the insane fun and the dark stuff we store away. Brother, Heed solid experience from Your Salts and find some Mentors to guide forward. Prepare & Execute! Admiring your Grit. Prayers for you & All Marines that are hurting. Kilo 3/5 1st MarDiv (Get Some). LE OUT!

  14. Just sent this to a friend who is 3RD ID SUST Brigade dealing with Safety Health of his soldiers

  15. Marine ghe 81 year old is right. Change direction. Use your talents developed from our valusble USMC training. I did after being a vietnam era Marine and it has payed off well.

  16. Cpl Stump, thank you for reminding us that life does exists after our experiences in the Corps. The challenge never ends after the Corps. As you led and saved your brothers in combat, there are others “in the world” that need what you have learned through sweat and blood. In this world that tries to neuter the genders, I found my purpose in fighting battles and saving young people who needed the guidance, discipline, and determination that only we, The Marines, have forged in fire. There are no ex or former Marines, we are all part of the brotherhood for life. Continue showing the courage you have exhibited already and purpose to continue battling the evil in this world by helping those who are coming behind us. The world, as it is, needs guys like us. I found my strength in the Lord. You can too. I remember that quote in Our Time in Hell narrated by Lee Marvin, “..that once I was a combat soldier, that I, by God, was a Marine…” You can be proud of your courage and be proud that you have passed the test. Not many have been through what we have been through. You make us proud with your determination “to re-orientate and attack a new objective” that you have purposed to do. From one Marine to another, thank you for your story. I have felt left behind, but the Lord showed me that he prepared me through my Marine training and experiences to help those who can’t help themselves at times. And remember, idiots exist everywhere-that’s where the self-discipline you learned in the Corps becomes important. You don’t slap them when you really want to.

  17. Take care and hang in there. You were able to hack before and you will be able to hack now. Keep your head up and move forward. The Corps taught you well, use it to the best of your ability. Semper Fi my brother and God bless. Sgt. A.J. Apodaca, RVN.

  18. Cpl Stump, I truly understand your feelings! I served for 26 years and took the road from Beirut to Baghdad and all points in between. The day they gave me my DD 214 was the worst day of my life! Then to top it off when I get home in the first month home I get hit by a drunk driver doing 90 mph and lose my legs, you want to talk about being P.O. I will be honest with you I sat with my P250 in my mouth then it hit me. I’m a U.S.MARINE! That never goes away as you know. Your service isn’t over it’s just starting, I found peace in being there for my brothers and sisters when they to civi life and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me besides the Corps! Just remember brother you are loved by the worlds elite and you can do anything!

  19. I hope that a high ranking officer reads this message and does something to help our marines that have given so much and get very little back. You deserve better than what you have received from the corp and from this nation. To that 1st Sgt that belittled you Shame ON YOU ! Instead of belittleing someone why dont you give support and try to help when ever you can. Isnt that what learders do? I am with you brother Dont let anybody get you down. Semper Fi Hang in there Marine

  20. Wow I thought I was the only one, stay motivated Cpl Stump…remember always….keep moving forward! Reach out to your local VFW as I did & you well find both our male & female counterpart’s that have served in combat from all our branches as I did & now I am our post 2085 2nd in command. Also I enrolled in college …associated with the schools veteran’s resource center to help guide our brothers & sisters. Communicate, advice and teach, mentor! Beserra JA. SGT USMC (1995-2010). 3361/3061/0311

  21. Cpl. Stump: You have my respect and admiration for your courage in writing this article. Hell, I like you! you can come over to my house….. my sister. { sorry, stupid attempt at humor}.As a 60 year old Nam era Marine, I’d have to agree with the 81 year old Marine; in that life is a series of obstacles, but that you have been trained and forged to overcome any thing that you have to deal with. Keep that in mind 24/7, and nothing will defeat you! Get close to good people, take on the worthy challenges such as education, starting and raising a family, career; and any thoughts of inadequacy or alienation will fade. You are truly an elite member of society, and that in itself will get you over the rough spots. Semper Fi!

  22. Cpl. Stump, I am highly inspired by your courage to face this demon and by the love and brotherhood of all that responded in support. The world will always look to you as a Marine for leadership. You’ve already met and defeated many challenges set before you. God called us into our Marine Corps lives to fulfill both ours and his purposes. While you may feel left out or left behind by those you serve you can rest assured there are many more that will be there to love and support you, and just as many that need you here for the courage you have just displayed. The Marine Corps has given you strength and fortitude to do great things, please remember that this is a small chapter and you will overcome and learn from this. Semper Fi, Marine “… be patient with them all. Hold fast to what is good”

  23. Burke George M Cpl. USMC 58 to 63 If just one Marine or any other service member reads and heeds your words, this article will “have done it’s job” I am the oldest of four brothers, all four USMC, three in Vietnam one in mortars, one a “grunt” and one in helicopters, all came back home, our mother did not have a heart attack, but almost gave us one when she threatened to “call her congressman” how dare the U S government send her sons to Vietnam, (not knowing that all ask for that duty). You took a big step in writing this article and for that you are to be congratulated, Semper Fi.

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