“Doc” Daniels

Air Force vet comforts younger self in letter:‘You can’t right wrongs nor cheat God’s will.’

How’s it going Warrior “Doc D?”

It’s me. I am reaching out to you from the future to let you know that the next nine months will push you to places that make your old stomping grounds growing up in Chicago seem like nothing.

As you sit slumped in the corner in a damp cold room in abandoned base housing at March Air Force Base in California training for deployment and reading the manual on how to treat combat injuries, I know you’re brave but scared.

I know you are looking for answers before you are tested, but know, as I said before, that you couldn’t prepare. You want to prove that you are worthy, you belong and have earned the name Doc. You want to be their guy — the one your Marines call Doc. In the moment of truth, you want to be ready to be the cheater of death. But I need you to know and understand that God has the last say.

“Doc” Daniels
Photo: nancylbadertscher@gmail.com

I want you to know the next six-plus years ahead will be the hardest of your life. I want to tell you that everyone that got on the plane with you will not return. In your heart, you know this already.

You knew deep down that all of your guys would not make it back. I will tell you that when you lost Tyler on the battlefield a part of your soul left with him. I see you standing there the next morning looking empty, feeling like a failure — heartbroken and lost.

He looked out for you. You admired his tattoos and his California carefree attitude, though he was from the Midwest.

Doc — the nightmares, the substance abuse, bad choices, struggles with thoughts of regret post-deployment. The question: What could have you done differently? It haunts you. Doc, you did all you could.

But I understand how your heart is built. It’s not that simple. I would tell you to get help. You can’t right wrongs nor cheat God’s will.

Mental health and taking care of yourself will allow you to help others in the future post-military.

You named your son after your fallen brother, but the dreams and voices will still haunt you. You will one day tell your son how he got the name Tyler, not to right a wrong but to honor a fallen brother, honor a true patriot and, above all, understand that the very Marine he is named after gave his life to protect his future.

You have to move forward in life — understand, Doc? There are others who need you in the veterans world, so again take care of yourself and understand you got this and you did the best you could.

Doc Daniels

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