|Abandoned American Embassy - Baghdad|
I believe a reason for not being able to comprehend my former life is the serious lack of popular culture that discusses the military experience. It can be challenging to reflect on your own experience if no one else is trying to do the same. No man is an island and all that. Most of the media establishment tends to focus on veterans who have been traumatized by war, and even then, it was more prominent during the Bush era for political reasons. This is an important matter to discuss, but where are the interesting stories about life in the military (no, Stealth does not count)? Hopefully, more veterans will continue using the GI Bill to finish off film school and MFAs, and we will begin to see an emerging trend in mass media similar to what was seen in the great movies following Vietnam (e.g. Platoon, Hamburger Hill, etc.)
Of course, there are a few exceptions. David Bellavia has a great book on Fallujah in 2004. Also, I just finished with Chris Brownfield's book My Nuclear Family, which was an interesting exploration of life as junior officer on a boat in Iraq (I had a much more humble opinion of myself than he does). However, there aren't enough, and hopefully that trend will change over time.