SPC Ruchir Bakshi, U.S. Army (1996-2004)



The following Reflection represents SPC Ruchir Bakshi’s legacy of their military service from 1996 to 2004. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

What was your favorite bar/ recreational establishment from your Military Service? What do you remember most about this place and do you know if it still exists?:

Amid multiple combat deployments that often felt like an unyielding storm after the horrific events of 9/11/01, the Tiki Bar in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, emerged as a beacon of solace, a slice of civilian pleasure amidst the harsh realities of military life. As soon as I walked into the bar, I felt the lively and energetic atmosphere. It starkly contrasted Afghanistan’s desolate and melancholy landscape, providing me with a much-needed respite from the harsh realities of the real world. Picture a place where time seemed to slow down, where the rustic charm mingled effortlessly with the soothing rhythms of reggae and salsa that danced through the air, creating a harmonious backdrop to the laughter and camaraderie that filled the space.

The Tiki Bar was a sanctuary adorned with subtle tiki torches casting a warm glow, illuminating faces that carried stories of resilience and courage. It was more than just a bar; it was a haven where camaraderie blossomed effortlessly, nurtured by the shared experiences and mutual understanding of those gathered there. The evenings were a beautiful symphony of laughter, music, and the enticing aroma of jerk chicken wafting through the air. There, individuals were welcomed for who they were beyond simply their rank or job titles. Coworkers became friends and colleagues, creating a more fulfilling and supportive environment. Underneath the canopy of the starlit sky, I found myself reconnecting with a part of me that had been stifled, a part that yearned for lightness and joy. The bar became a therapeutic space where conversations flowed freely, sometimes touching upon the more profound scars warfare had etched upon our souls. It was a place where healing began amidst shared smiles and the comforting embrace of fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, united in a momentary escape and a glimpse of the joyous possibilities that life still held.

As we commemorate suicide prevention month, we must acknowledge that we need spaces that promote connections and support networks to combat PTSD’s isolation. The Tiki Bar was a reminder that reaching out, sharing our stories, and finding solidarity in our experiences can be powerful tools in preventing veteran suicides. It stood as a beacon of hope, a place where the seeds of resilience were sown, nurturing the spirit and encouraging individuals to forge onward with the knowledge that they were not alone in their journey. The Tiki Bar brings back happy memories and reminds me of happiness during tough times. It was a brief yet significant respite before I would find myself engulfed in the tumultuous waves of the Iraq war. Still, in that fleeting period at GTMO, the Tiki Bar stood as a place of hope, a place where healing began with shared smiles and the comforting embrace of my brothers and sisters in arms, united in their pursuit of a momentary escape and a glimpse of the joyous possibilities that life still held.

Read the Military Memories of our Runner-Ups.

Boot Camp, Units, Combat Operations

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Tags: 9/11/01, Military Memories of our Runner-Ups, PTSD's isolation, Tiki Bar in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO)


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