Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nick Whiteman, Marathon (2) Army soldier


"I turned 18 in the gas chamber.
I joined the Army when I was 17, was in basic training and in the gas chamber the day I turned 18 (happy birthday to me!), and was in Iraq on my 19th birthday. I served for 4 years, did one tour in Iraq 2004-2005.
I am closest to the guys I served with. We spent 7 days a week, 24 hours a day together, you know everything about each other, whether you want to or not! I had an Army buddy of mine visit and we went fishing, we picked up right where we left off. It was nice, really nice.
My scariest moment was every day over there. I didn’t know what it felt like to actually feel like you could die, and we lived in that state of fear every day in Iraq. It takes a toll on you emotionally, even if you weren’t injured physically, when you left, you were injured mentally. At such a young age you don’t know how to cope with it.
Time. I don’t know that there is any protocol to follow to adjust mentally when you get home; everyone deals with it their own way, some right and some wrong. You just try to get back to your life. It was hard. It’s just time.
Simple things. Eight, nine months of looking at brown. When you come back, it is amazing what the color green looks like. It was really weird. Your whole color spectrum changes. Coming back to North Carolina, the colors were so bright. It is hard to describe it.
I was married when I returned from Iraq. I don’t want to say you have to completely restart your relationship, but it is weird, you have to start over in a way. We didn’t have skype or email like they do now, we had letters, hand written letters. We had 1 phone call usually once a week on a satellite phone for 10 – 15 minutes. That marriage didn’t work out.
When you’re in Iraq, you live in a heightened sense of awareness all of the time, and when you come back, you have to try to shut it off. It takes a lot, it takes a very controlled person. It isn’t easy.
I'm glad I did it but I’ll stick with police work from here on out.

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