Soldier to Civilian: The “Mr. Incredible” Complex

tumblr_m7q7nabmr81qlmscao1_1280Have you seen the meme about “Name a movie you have watched five times and still like”? For my family and me, the movie would be “The Incredibles”. My kids literal quote lines from the movie while sitting at the table for dinner. The concept of an aging, out of shape, former super hero who is now rejected by the very populous that once praised him is timeless.

I believe it was General McChrystal who once said, “The last feeling you will have when leaving the Army is one of rejection.” Whether it is the Mr. Incredible complex or the General McChrystal observation, our Veterans know all too well what it is like to sacrifice our very lives for a system and battle buddies. Unfortunately, when we detach (PCS, ETS, MED Board, or Retire) from the system called the military, we run face first into civilian society, different systems with seeming meaningless agendas, and a troublesome lack of camaraderie. The affect that follows is much like experiencing what counselors call Attachment Injury. Soldiers who have experienced high levels of combat can also experience withdrawal like symptoms from their materiel (i.e. tactical equipment to include weaponry and vehicles). Newly suited civilians fresh from the Army will respond with anger, confusion, loneliness, a sense of purposelessness, further detachment, depression, self-medication, and even Post Traumatic Stress. When our Soldiers, current and former turn to negative resources for help I call that “Perversion Therapy”. We can’t fix it so we pervert it!

There are physiological implications, as well. Imagine a new transmission that operates as a standard. When it shows up to the unit it is bright and shiny and working on all cylinders. Over time the engine begins to wear, it loses its luster, and it has become duller in appearance. Performance wise and due to “needs of the Army” it sustained a running RPM in the red. Once it has been sent to the auction block to be sold to a civilian, it higher gears no longer work and the pressure plate is worn out. This is what happens to our soldiers, physiologically. In combat, the adrenal glands are working overtime. The base line when in garrison is much lower than the adrenal baseline in combat. The human body simply cannot sustain the adrenal levels experienced in combat throughout the life time of the soldier. Now imagine how the rest of the body feels and responds.

jesus_helpingThere must be a better way. My concern with our current relationship between the fighting force and the world dominance of social media is the divide or selective ignorance of soldiering by the majority of the American population may mean the used vehicles we are sending back into society may never be refurbished.

I have a Chaplain buddy named CH (MAJ) Steve Pratel. We have been FB friends longer than we have actual friends, partly due to sharing the same occupation. Several years ago, CH Pratel took on the arduous task of refurbishing or restoring a Porsche 911. Over the years, I watched his progress through FB updates and now we serve at the same base. A few weeks back, CH Pratel completed his project. It was a project that started with just the body and some spare parts. Now he drives the streets of Tacoma Washington with a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and a can do attitude. America needs restorers or in ministry terms people who reach out to others as reconcilers. Below you will find a rather lengthy passage of scripture but one that speaks to the type of ministry we should be about today. As you read through it, think about how you too can be one who restores, reconciles, and refurbishes lives that once sacrificed greatly for this Amazing country. After all, God gave us the ministry of reconciliation and that makes us INCREDIBLE and worth talking about at dinner! Otherwise, the last feeling will always be one of rejection.

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.