I did have a Very Serious™ psychology-related topic about which I was going to post today, but then I got completely distracted watching YouTube videos of dancing soldiers, like this “Dance Party in Iraq” video I first saw a few months ago.
On the surface, this may not look like it has anything to do with Mental Health Awareness Month, but think about it for a moment.
When you’re in a war zone, separated from your loved ones, wearing body armor most of the daylight hours, carrying weapons, never completely sure if the trip down that road is going to get you to your destination in one piece or in a body bag, are you honestly better served by constantly being on edge and anxious… or by relaxing and staying calm, even joking around and letting off some steam?
And believe it or not, tedium is another factor. My brother-in-law has been a Marine for most of his adult life. Fortunately, he is now a whisper away from retirement, but he’s been deployed to the Persian Gulf five times for wartime stretches of eight months or more. He was in the infantry in Desert Storm and in heavy equipment during four rotations in Operations Iraqi/Enduring Freedom. And I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s been shipped over to Okinawa and other stations for peaceful deployments. But by his account, he spent most of his time overseas sitting around playing video games.
So if it’s not the stress of separation and being far from home or the stress of your life in danger, it could well be the stress of cabin fever that snaps the mind of a soldier. In those circumstances, it’s well remembered that sometimes the best response to an insane situation is to behave insanely – or, in other words: DANCE!