Seven years after I left Iraq, the rhythms of that life still echo inside me.
That is how former WFIU/WTIU reporter Kyle Clayton describes his struggle returning to the U.S. after serving in Iraq.
In a personal account published in the Indiana Daily Student this week, Clayton reveals the difficulties he had coming back to his home state and attending college at Indiana University where some of the students “have never heard of IEDs” and “can’t point to Iraq on a map.”
Clayton is strikingly honest with his emotions–how the mundane responsibility of going to class stood in stark contrast to the adrenaline rushes to which he had become accustomed.
I’m angry that I feel this way because it cuts me off from their world. The rage goes so deep it scares me. Where do these worlds meet? I need to know. It’s the lack of meaning that shakes me the most.
And that’s when I retreat to the desert.
In the end, Clayton says it was a bar fight and trip to the jail that made him realize he needed help, or at least a listening ear.
Soon after, he attended therapy and learned to handle the anger that had troubled him for years since returning from the Middle East. But he says he will always carry those years with him, just like he still carries his sand-colored camouflage backpack.
Clayton has since moved on to a new job. He recently left Bloomington with his Huskie mix and companion Brody to become a reporter in Bethel, Alaska at KYUK.