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The campus social justice movement is a popular conversation topic in online veteran’s communities. As a group we like to slam the identity politics of liberal college students as “soft” or “overly PC” and I am certainly no exception to this rule. But veterans are not immune to identity politics and many of us often engage in our brand of PC policing. Where the regressive left pulls “check your privilege” from its holster, veterans draw down with “he’s a veteran/yeah but I’m a vet/you don’t get it you didn’t serve.”
Around military-centric holidays the rhetoric tends to get ramped up, with a lot of vets sharing memes or statuses that seem to be little more than weak attempts to guilt people into not enjoying a three day weekend. (No really, I’m writing this on the Wednesday before the weekend, and my own personal feed is already starting to overflow.
Max from TL hit it on the head awhile back with his MDW comic strip.
At one point or another, typically in our boot years, or sometimes in the throes of drunken nostalgia after leaving active duty most of us will engage in one form of online over-motivation or another. I’m guilty of it and you probably are too.
Our status as veterans entitles us to a modicum of respect sure, but it’s not like we served for free, and when we get out there are some wonderful benefits and entitlements available to us.
Let’s take this week as an opportunity to look inward. Pride in service is great, but some people do other things with their lives that don’t involve the military. Serving for a few years is simply not the be all and end all of human existence.
Even if you’ve only overheard or been involved in one ‘grunts vs POGs argument’ then you realize that not everyone in the military has a dangerous job, and there are plenty of other dangerous occupations that don’t get lauded with praise the way that service members do. (I could go deeper into this idea, but Task and Purpose’s interview with Sebastian Junger does just that)
By flooding civilian Facebook newsfeeds with moto memes and comments about beating up liberal campus activists we only serve to perpetuate a stereotype of vets that makes us all look disgruntled and bitter.
So I guess what I’m saying is “cut it out because you’re making the rest of us look bad.”
I know you want to punch that college kid in the face for burning the flag (in a visceral kind of way so do I) but we did spend 4 years defending their constitutionally protected right to burn that piece of cloth. And the idiot wearing fatigues with an Eagle Globe and Anchor that he obviously didn’t earn? He’s just that — an idiot — and probably isn’t worth your time or energy. Besides you can complain about those losers all you want over beers with your old service buddies, but blasting your butt-hurt all over social media puts us on the same intellectual plane as this broad.
I think Memorial Day is a perfect time to spread this message, because if the fallen were still with us they sure as hell wouldn’t be spending their time on Facebook arguing with strangers and long forgotten acquaintances on somebody’s uncle’s wall or in the comment section of a meme page. They’d be grilling, drinking, fishing, hanging on the beach, and spending time with loved ones — and I’m sure they’d tell us to do the same.
This isn’t to say that you need to treat Memorial Day Weekend as a 72 hour party without a thought for those who never made it home. Balance is an important part of life. Take a friend to spend time reflecting at a local war memorial, spend part of an afternoon watching ‘Last Letters Home’, stop by a parade, or take a minute to speak with and shake the hand of an older vet collecting donations outside the liquor store. Once you’ve done that, then honor the fallen by enjoying some of the freedom that they gave their lives to defend.
If you want to then go ahead and ignore my advice, shout from the rooftops about whatever has your Irish up. But instead of doing battle with memes, harassing unaware civvies over not serving or ranting at length about some other perceived slight, try one of these on for size – they’re absolutely worth your time.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has estimated that there are nearly 50,000 veterans homeless on any given night. A significant portion of that number is made up of OIF, OEF, and Operation New Dawn veterans. Spread the word about the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Suicide Among Veterans
It may not be the often cited 22 a day, but estimates say veterans have a suicide rate that is 50 percent higher than those who did not serve in the military. Transitioning out of a combat zone or back to civilian life can take a serious mental toll. If you have a buddy who might be in trouble give him a call, invite him over for a meal, hit the gym together, or just shoot the breeze and catch up. And be sure to get him touch with someone who can help.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald has compared your health to waiting for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean.
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important?”
McDonald told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. The head of the American Legion wasn’t happy about that statement and you shouldn’t be either.
American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett excoriated McDonald:
“The American Legion agrees that the VA secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.”
If off the cuff comments were the worst of the VA’s problems I could probably let it slide – I’ve never been one to be easily microaggressed — but then there was all of this:
2013: The former director of Veteran Affairs facilities in Ohio, William Montague, is indicted on charges he took bribes and kickbacks to steer VA contracts to a company that does business with the agency nationwide.
2014: CNN reports that at least 19 veterans died at VA hospitals in 2010 and 2011 because of delays in diagnosis and treatment.
At least 40 veterans died while waiting for appointments to see a doctor at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, CNN reports. The patients were on a secret list designed to hide lengthy delays from VA officials in Washington, according to a recently retired VA doctor and several high-level sources.
The VA’s Office of Inspector General says it is investigating 26 agency facilities for allegations of doctored waiting times.
2015: One year after an explosive Veterans Affairs scandal sparked national outrage, the number of veterans on wait lists to be treated for everything from Hepatitis C to post-traumatic stress is 50 percent higher than at the same time last year, according to VA data.
The Saudis And Our Response To The 9/11 Attacks
Since the early days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when news emerged that most of the airline hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, dark allegations have lingered about official Saudi ties to the terrorists. Fueling the suspicions: 28 still-classified pages in a congressional inquiry on 9/11 that raise questions about Saudi financial support to the hijackers in the United States prior to the attacks.
Both the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have refused to declassify the pages on grounds of national security. But critics, including members of Congress who have read the pages in the tightly guarded, underground room in the Capitol where they are held, say national security has nothing to do with it. U.S. officials, they charge, are trying to hide the double game that Saudi Arabia has long played with Washington, as both a close ally and petri dish for the world’s most toxic brand of Islamic extremism.
Hindsight has shown that the Iraq invasion was a colossal mistake. Now, it seems that not only did we invade a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, but that our government may have protected a country that played a role in that act of mass murder. Above all else this is the one that really riles me up; because this lie is tied directly to all of the death, all of the horrific injuries, all of the PTSD, all of the time away from family and friends, all of the trouble adjusting to life back in the civilian world, everything. If true it’s the ultimate betrayal and something far, far worse than a harmlessly ignorant civilian enjoying a hot dog and a beer with his friends on a beautiful spring day.
This contributor is a Marine veteran that has served in the Middle East. Due to the sensitive nature of his current job, he has requested to remain anonymous.