The Rhino Den Guide to the Veteran Brain and How It Works
By Pablo James
After a decade and a half of continuous warfare, the veteran community has found itself struggling with a number of issues – an epidemic of suicide, unemployment, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and integration back into civilian society. It the latter issue that I want to discuss today.
Making the transition from a military lifestyle to a civilian one can be amusing at best and overwhelming at worst. This is especially true in the classrooms of America’s universities and colleges and in the cubicles of the modern workplace. I say cubicles because some have suggested that the transition into non-office work can be less challenging – our co-workers in the firehouse, the police station, or the construction site are often more accepting of our particular mannerisms and non-standard senses of humor. Let’s face it, you can more readily get away with tricking Jimmy from the plumber’s union with a cleverly executed meat gaze than you can with Rhonda from Payroll.
The reality is the military mindset is different, especially for veterans who deployed into harm’s way. There is something about the cramped quarters, absolute lack of privacy, and the shared danger of IEDs, firefights, and yet another fucking Resiliency briefing consisting of a mere 7853 PowerPoint slides and 12 role plays. Let’s face it, when you look forward to a few minutes alone in a port-a-john in the 130 degree heat of the Middle Eastern summer because it’s the only privacy you’re going to get all day, you begin to think a little differently from your civilian counterparts.
Some would even say out brains work differently. I agree.
Here at Ranger Up we are always looking for new and innovative ways to assist the veteran community. In that spirit, I have spent months conducting extensive research (by which I mean I grabbed a few beers and my laptop) and proudly present this guide to the veteran’s brain. Feel free to provide this to your supervisor at work, your girlfriend, or any other civilians who may need to understand why we do the things we do.
The frontal lobe of the veteran brain is the epicenter of our day to day functioning. It is the part of the brain that controls and regulates our two most important motivators: Patriotism and dedication to mission….no, I’m just kidding. The frontal lobe is for Sex and Alcohol.
Sex and alcohol are the two driving factors for the veteran. Our lives are, in some variation, a constant pursuit of either or both. A smart and seasoned British soldier once told me that all motivation in males can be summed up with the Three Ps: Pounds, Power, or P***y. (Note: The Pound, if you are unaware, is the basic British monetary unit – the equivalent to our dollar…but with the Queen instead of a dead president). Really, you could even pair this down by taking power out because, in reality, most people pursuing power are probably using power to get to one or both of the other two.
That covers sex.
Alcohol is the lubrication that keeps it all going. The nectar of the gods that gets the creative juices flowing, that allows you to throw caution to the wind, and allows you to quiet the voices in your head…not imaginary voices, of course. The voice of your Sergeant Major screaming at you for having your hands in you God Damned pockets or walking on HIS grass. It can motivate you to text that cute waitress from the barbecue place down the street and do your very best impression of Congressman Anthony Weiner. It can help you accept the challenge on a late Saturday night out on the town when your squad mates cry “Manchester!” after you drunkenly declare you will drunk text your First Sergeant and tell him what you really think.
It’s pretty much good for everything but driving and handling firearms. If you do either, or both, of those things while getting liquored up, you’re not only an asshole, but you’re probably not contributing to the gene pool for much longer. Let’s just hope you don’t take any cool people with you along the way.
The Parietal Lobe:
The parietal lobe handles guns and explosions. Next to sex and alcohol, these are the things we live for. What is cooler than going to the range and shooting guns? Going to the demo range and blowing things up. It’s what we live for. You know why every Hollywood movie has explosions? Because they’re fucking cool.
I’m not a neurosurgeon or a psychiatrist, but I am pretty sure this part of the brain houses the desire for steak. Steak, or any grilled meat, is awesome and damn near as cool as guns and explosions. If you don’t believe me, think back to the movie Blackhawk Down, specifically the “This is MY safety, sir” scene. Why were all the Rangers lined up and being festive? Was is because Hoot found a nice patch of arugula on the way back from capturing an HVT? No, it’s because he brought meat to grill.
The Temporal Lobe:
The temporal lobe is where we, as veterans, store a variety of things: war stories, trivia, and internet outrage.
We love war stories. Some anthropologists hypothesize that the primary reason behind the development of spoken language in early man was so Og could talk shit to Crug. It’s what we do and what we have done for a million years. My school was harder than your school. My deployment was tougher than your deployment.
You scored a seven at the club this weekend? I scored an eight!
Trivia and urban legends drive us, too. Did you know Jack Mandaville once killed an antelope with his bare hands? It’s true. I went to Airborne School with a guy whose cousin dated a Marine who had a neighbor that was there when it happened. I wouldn’t bullshit you…
We also, regrettably, love to be outraged by things on the internet. Did you see that video of the lady who only said “Thank you” to the veteran who held the door for her? That Socialist, liberal waste of oxygen did not thank him for his service! HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MEMBER OF ISIS, HANOI JANE!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
The Occipital Lobe:
The occipital lobe, located at the back of the brain, handles all things sports, video games, and movies. It interfaces seamlessly with the temporal lobe because the data contained in our in depth knowledge of sports and movies has to be accessed by the trivia receptors in the temporal lobe for discussions surrounding useless information.
Hours upon hours of watching movies and television shows on Donnie’s 50 Terabyte External Hard Drive will burn some movie lines and comedy bits into your brain.
Music is also housed here. I don’t have enough time or space in this venue to address music, but we’ve addressed it before.
Finally, and most importantly, there is the cerebellum located closest to the brain stem. The cerebellum is where the veteran brain houses the all-important “spank bank.” The spank bank is that data powerhouse that contains every image, fantasy, memory, and/or trivia that will fuel and motivate sessions of….um….well….privacy. A cast of thousands multiplied exponentially by CGI lives inside the bank. Every ex-girlfriend, waitress, stripper, flight attendant, cute neighbor, and nurse you’ve ever encountered.
I hope this guide will be a helpful aid for you and your civilian counterparts in understanding how the brain of the veteran actually operates compared to the non-veteran brain. As you can see, they are hard wired a little differently, but a small amount of knowledge and understanding can help you (or your new boss at the insurance company) navigate through this twisted and dark maze and make the most of having one or more of America’s heroes on their team.