Somebody has to say this: I am absolutely fed up with people coming to war zones with the wrong intentions and/or lack of qualifications and delusions about the situation. It is absolutely detrimental to progress over here, specifically in Kurdistan. I’m not alone in this outlook; anyone who’s been here long enough will tell you the same thing. You’re making Westerners look like unmanageable, unreliable, and unintelligent dicks.

To be blunt, stay home—we don’t want or need you. Wars, and volunteering in one, are not a game. People are relying on you to do your job to the letter. Many of your comrades have lost family and friends to the enemy. It’s their life on the line, and they will absolutely risk theirs to save your dumb ass. There are no respawns. The first time you watch a friend get cut in half by an IED or have a bullet whiz past your face, it becomes too real. No custom M4s here; you get issued whatever extra piece of shit weapon the unit had lying around because no one cares if you were special ops or special ed, you’re just some jackass who showed up.

War zones are not for tourism. Surprise! When people come for a couple months and leave, they waste everyone’s time and label themselves a massive, unreliable poser among the community of Westerners here who have sweat, bled, and suffered though hardships and long days. The Kurds will hate you for it and talk constant shit about you, as will those of us who are still here, because you’re not a real warrior. You’re a tourist.

It is not a movie. There is no glory to be had despite your experience with “Rambo.” Nothing goes the way it is supposed to. It’s not a script, and on more than one occasion, the good guys lose or die. Ammo is incredibly limited; no Hollywood mags here, and when you run out, it’s over, because supplies are limited. The food often sucks ass and there’s never enough, so if you’re incompetent, you’re just another mouth to feed instead of a force multiplier. Ninety-nine percent of the experience is something other than fighting. It’s mind-numbingly boring most of the time.