This is an update to a previous post: Skeletons, Closets, and Uniforms.
This week, I finally did it. I packed up my color guard uniform, my shirts, pants, jacket, helmet, gloves, dickie, whatever else came with it, and took it back to the VFW post where I'd received it all. I also took back my chaplain's briefcase, containing prayers and notes and obituaries.
On 31 December 2009, my membership in VFW expired. I do not intend to renew it.
I'm disappointed. I sought nothing more than friendship, and something of the sense of family and belonging I got from wearing a military uniform. I had hoped that in some way, my being a student as well as being a veteran could bridge the two worlds somehow. There are so many of us who are civilians now, in college, doing the best we can-- many of us miss things about military service. Many of us hope that those that have gone before us can offer something in the way of support. That 'Nam vet at the bar probably knows plenty about dealing with the VA, PTSD, family, school, etc.
It took a lot to decide to finally take that stuff back to the post. While I didn't feel right keeping it, I didn't feel right about taking it back, either. Taking it all back meant closure, in a way-- now I'm really gone, here's your stuff. I still held out hope that things would someday be different. Half a year later, nothing visible has changed.
I had a whole list of things to say to whoever took my gear from my hands-- but dropping my gear off at the post was uneventful. I handed it all to the bartender, who I'm sure at some point took it downstairs. It's probably all in a closet in a basement now.
I'm sorry it had to be this way. I didn't choose this way. It is what it is.