G.I. No: The Everyday Frustrations of Veterans
A Veterans FrustrationA Veterans Frustration

G.I. No: The Everyday Frustrations of Veterans

Assumed Expertise

I was a medic when I was in the Army. A “combat medic” who did not see combat. A medical specialist who was told I would be able to change bed pans in the civilian world. So why was my uncle asking me to decipher his x-ray? For one, I wasn’t sure if he was even supposed to have his x-ray. Two, it was of his lungs. And three, he didn’t tell me what I should be looking for. He just told me I should know. But the only thing I knew is I shouldn’t be looking at his x-ray. My uncle pressured me to examine this possibly-stolen medical property like the clues would float up to the surface. He said the doctor told him there was a shadow. All I could see was the normal dark portion of the x-ray. He then asked me to help get his affairs in order.

That became my life. I had, apparently, come out of the Army with a medical degree. No amount of explaining the differences between my MOS and that of a primary caregiver, the difference between a medic and a nurse, or how I can barely boil water without 4th degree burns would convince my family otherwise. And these weren’t just paper cuts or indigestion or things I could solve with water and ibuprofen. These were real exclamation mark scenarios, usually something requiring an MRI and/or CAT scan. Every family reunion turned into an impromptu “doctor’s” visit. Random flashes of skin for me to “examine.” Description of smells from various body parts. A possible urine sample that I did not stick around long enough to verify.

Advice For Them, Anxiety For You

On one end, it was flattering. In spite of my countless tales of spending a large portion of time keeping vehicles and medical inventory in order, they had enough faith in me to believe I worked at General Hospital. But on the other end, it only led to another episode of Stacey’s Anxiety. What if what they were asking for was something I had missed in AIT? What if I inadvertently led them to believe their hay fever was a disease only known to infect fish?

Looking for a Fight Whether You Like it or Not

These were issues that I could not discuss with my friends; they were too busy trying to get me killed. They liked to take me out, get within a hair’s inch of a fight with someone, and then pull me into the problem like I was an anime secret power they could call on when doing battle.

“Better not mess with us. Our friend is from the Army and she will take. You. Out.”

Remember when I said I was a medic? That didn’t change between the first paragraph and this one. I could be a possible Le Femme Nikita with a butterfly syringe, I suppose, but Kill Bill I was not. Worse, each line in the buildup to each potential fight always grew progressively hyperbolic and aggressive.

“She knows hand to hand combat.”

“She’s a sharpshooter at 25 thousand feet.”

“She will tear out your eyes with her earrings and she hates you.”

I am not sure how I’ve survived being a civilian so far.

About the Author:

Stacey Bell is an Army vet currently living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her Masters in English from California State University, Long Beach.

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