Three Times a Sh**Bag: Helping soldiers deal with military experiences

Eric Meadvin began his comics "so soldiers throughout the world can know that they are not alone.”

Gal Gadot was a POG / From the comic made by Eric Meadvin  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gal Gadot was a POG / From the comic made by Eric Meadvin
(photo credit: Courtesy)

He’s served in the US Marine Corps, the Israeli Defense Forces and is now in the US Army, and on his spare time he draws Three Times a S***bag, a comic strip which helps service-members deal with the humdrum daily life in the military.

Born in Syracuse, New York, Eric Meadvin began his popular Three Times a S***bag following his services in all three militaries “to keep myself from going crazy,” he told The Jerusalem Post, explaining that he started the comics when he began his basic training for the US Army, where he spent most of his time “sitting on the concrete floor doing nothing.”

“You can’t sit on a chair or on your bed because you’re not a full soldier yet [and because of] that I started developing back problems,” he said. “To keep myself from going crazy, I started drawing comics about everything I went through in the Marines, IDF and the US Army. I showed them to all the other soldiers who also had to sit on the concrete floor and just wait. Everyone would laugh, and I thought ‘the military is stupid no matter what country or branch you are in. I should start to publish this so soldiers throughout the world can know that they are not alone.’”

The comics touch on the mundane daily life of soldiers in all militaries, and while they may be considered controversial to some, Meadvin believes that they help fellow servicemen and women who are coping with PTSD or other mental illness due to their time in the military.

“A big part of veteran suicide when you get out isn’t the PTSD. It’s the extreme loneliness,” he said, explaining that while everyone may have a similar experience in Israel “here in the US, you go from being in a community where you were accountable to someone 24/7, to being in a world that thinks you were a Navy seal slaying bodies at best to a mercenary searching for oil at worse.”

PFC Jacob Brickner, who serves with Meadvin in the US Army told the Post has helped him “tremendously” to make sense of his experiences in the Army.

“At times it has been difficult for me make sense of my experiences in the Army and handle feelings of disgruntlement and depression, but Eric’s comics have helped a tremendous amount,” he explained. “From my experience, there tends to be less pieces of media and art tailored to the military and veterans; less forms of expressing our individual experiences.”

“The aspect that many people miss when attempting to display the military lifestyle is that everything isn’t such a serious, deep war story,” he continued, adding that “99% of one’s time in the military consists of boredom and dark humor. It’s media that captures the simple aspects of our life that resonates with me. Three Times a S***bag always manages to show experiences similar to mine in a humorous light, helping to make me feel ‘normal.’”

For Meadvin, while he said his experiences in all three militaries were different, there was an underlying loneliness in all.

Krav Maga/ From the comic made by Eric Meadvin / Courtesy Krav Maga/ From the comic made by Eric Meadvin / Courtesy

Meadvin joined the Marine Corps in 2005 at the age of 18, serving as a 0341 mortarman and deployed to Iraq twice for seven months each, first near Habbanyiah, between Ramadi and Fallujah, followed by al-Qaim near the Syrian border.

“My first deployment I was right in the middle of a village guarding a road against IEDs and trying to get the Iraqi army to take control,” Meadvin said.

“The second deployment I guarded a bridge with the Iraqi police in the middle of the desert,” he said, explaining “during my second deployment to Iraq I hated my life. There was nothing to do but guard this stupid bridge. I was extremely depressed.”

One anecdote from his time in the Marines which he used in his comics was sweeping a road in Iraq for improvised explosive devices.

 “Seriously, that is a 100% true story,” he said. “They made us clear fields for IEDs with sticks. We would take a metal pole and stab the ground as hard as we could to find bombs.”

What medics really do/ From the comic made by Eric MeadvinWhat medics really do/ From the comic made by Eric Meadvin

One New Year’s Eve night while guarding the deserted bridge, Meadvin realized that the Marine Corps, despite all the glory associated with them, wasn’t where he wanted to continue his military career.

“The Marines are big on pride, they say they are the best, BUT, a lot of marines said the IDF is the best army in the world,” he told the Post. “So I thought, while guarding that stupid bridge on New Year’s in the middle of night ‘why am I going to stay in the Marines, I’m going to the IDF!!!!’”

Shortly after, Meadvin moved to Israel and joined the IDF, serving in the Givati Brigade as a light machine gunner between 2010-2012, a service he says was “much more meaningful” than the Marine Corps and US Army.

Nevertheless, it’s the US Army which gives him the most material for his comic strips.

“Simply going to work every day and dealing with the same stuff gives me new material every day,” he said.