Tribal Mentality (Part 2), By Dominic MancusoBillie Jackson
Tribal Mentality (Part II), By Dominic Mancuso
Previously discussed in Part 1, I described one of the growing reasons I believe military veterans, especially combat veterans, have such a difficult time adjusting to civilian life: The Veteran now finds themselves ripped from their “tribe” and figuratively thrown into the “wild” that is modern civilian America; They have been uprooted, usually very abruptly, from one way of living and dumped back into the civilian population with no-more than a “good luck, don’t kill anyone or yourself” pep talk on the way out. I would like to elaborate more on this in Part 2 of Tribal Mentality.
A lack of a Tribe does not mean the warrior turned civilian just up and forgets the tribal mentality the US Military is renowned for; it is permanently ingrained into that Veterans way of thinking for the rest of their life. It is not something that is simply switched off. You can take the person out of military service, but you will never take the military service out of the person. Now, we all use that military experience for different means, but in the end the military does change each and every person who goes through it, for better or worse. If nothing else, it instills something civilians almost never get… a sense of belonging; or, as I have been calling it, “The Tribal Mentality”.
In order to understand what I am referring to let me give you a definition courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary: Tribe – A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader. If that did not scream military to you then you are one of the majority of Americans who these days have zero personal ties to the Military. For the first time in US history, there is a growing divide between the civilian population and the Military as a whole. Believe it or not, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has a family member currently serving in the US military or has served. This enlarging divide is easily explained in a quote from Rorke Denver’s new book Worth Dying For; “We’ve disconnected the consequences of war from the American public”. When the average American does not actually sacrifice anything from their day to day lives, the current war for the greater Middle East is not ever present in their minds, as such those who have fought in it are also for the most part not on their minds. This lack of insight stemming from a lack of hardship necessity is what is creating this divide.
When the military servicemen leaves the military, and becomes a “veteran” they are pulled from a small group of people (Less than 1% of the population serves in the military) and plopped into the general populace. At first, it is a good time. They no longer have to wake up early and go for long runs; no more disgusting chow-hall food, and never again will you allow someone to shout at you in the face… but slowly, all of that initial happiness wears away because you find yourself more and more unable to connect with the civilians around you. Their constant complaining about things you feel are elementary at best and become one of your biggest hatreds… Slowly but surely, you start to miss those you served with because you share a bond with them that was strengthened by hardship, diversity, and ultimately the threat of death… You start to miss your “Tribe”.
After a few years of being a civilian, I have learned this lesson. I miss my Tribe. I don’t necessarily miss the military and the bureaucratic nonsense that goes along with it, but I miss my buddies. I miss us overcoming the odds. I miss us “taking that hill”… I miss us all just sitting around bullshiting about anything and everything. Hell, I just miss something as simple as always having someone to go to chow with. Because of this, my close veteran friends and I have started building something very important to us.
My local Veteran Brothers and I have begun building what we call “The Tribe”. It is a group made up entirely of Military Veterans, and it is there just for us. Calling it an “organization” would be giving it too much credit, as we have no hierarchy. Instead every member of The Tribe has an equal voice in all things we deem a Tribal matter. It has been an absolute success! I am happier in life as is all those who have joined and all it simply does is just gives vets a place and people they can be around who 100% “get it”. Vets can completely be themselves in The Tribe. Filter off, open about anything and everything. It seems every time we bring in a new Vet into The Tribe, after one hangout session they come back saying how much they just needed to be around like minded people and how the civilian bullshit was a bit more bearable.
Next time, in the final part of Tribal Mentality, we will discuss how we have formed this local “Tribe” and what it has done for its specific members as well as how you can form a local “Tribe” for veterans of your own.
About the author:
Dominic Mancuso is a US Army Infantry Combat Veteran with 7 1/2 years’ experience in the US Army National Guard. With combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as a peacekeeping tour in Egypt under his belt, he can speak with a level of authority in knowing the plight of the modern American Veteran. In his civilian life he spends as much time with his fellow veterans as possible while also studying military history in an effort to better understand the history of the warrior mentality before, during, and after their years of military service.