At the fear of generalizing, I’ll say this: men in war zones obsess, get fixated on some really happy thought. I did. My men did. For example, one of my Soldiers--every time we sat down at the computers in the computer room--would show me a picture of the motorcycle he was going to buy when he returned.
About half way through my Afghanistan deployment--after reading a National Geographic travel magazine on places in the sun--I got my obsession: the Banyan Tree Madivaru, a thousand dollar plus a night resort with your own beach and “tent” in the Maldives. I saved the pictures to my desktop and would think, “Man, that place is like a billion times better than Afghanistan.” I obsessed about taking my then girlfriend, soon to be fiance, currently wife, there on our honeymoon (though I knew the whole time it was financially impossible).
Last deployment, I didn’t have the same obsession. I guess too many of Maslow’s needs were satisfied for me to obsess about anything. There was less boredom too. In Afghanistan we spent countless hours bored on radio guard or sitting in trucks waiting for something to happen, a perfect setting for obsession. In Iraq there was boredom, but also the trappings of Western society like the Internet, video games and basketball.
These pictures were the images of my obsession.