On Missing Combat

Combat is all about the guy fighting next to you. How many jobs will you have where the person next to you will take a bullet to save your life?

Steve Rose PhD


Throughout thirty-five interviews with Canadian veterans of Afghanistan and a review of several war memoirs and documentary accounts, missing combat stood out as one of the most common sentiments. Although this is probably no surprise to military personnel and veterans, it is something that is completely counter-intuitive in the civilian world. In civilian-life, safety, security, and comfort are valued above all else. So how can an experience characterized by danger, uncertainty, and discomfort be missed? It’s the sense of purpose that comes with the role. One Canadian veteran states:

“I don’t necessarily miss being blown up and shot at, but you miss the purpose that comes with the combat.”

Another states:

“It’s the idea that for six months or whatever, you’re really in the shit, you’re in the thick of it, you are really doing something; you’re doing something that people are talking about, you’re doing something that’s cool…

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