Now I’m pissed and I’m tired so I’m finally going to try and put my feelings down on paper to get a point across that for some reason doesn’t seem to get a lot of traction.
Dear politicians, media, pundits, facebookers, and social justice warriors,
Stop using veterans as political fodder, stop with the fake indignation over troops and most of all, let’s get one thing straight:
NOT ONE OF THESE ASSHOLES RUNNING FOR OFFICE WAS A VETERAN
I’m not suggesting the President of the United States must have served, I think it would be nice but it isn’t a requirement and some of the best we’ve had haven’t and in my opinion some of the worst we’ve had were former service members. I’m so tired of the statement “I don’t know whether service members would be ready to call so-and-so commander in chief” this statement almost always comes from some dickbag who couldn’t render a proper salute to a boy scout let alone their flag. Let’s not even get into the myriad of retired officers who most assuredly added to the toxic leadership environment that currently plagues the military trying to get their 15 minutes of fame by adding commentary as to which politician they believe would suit best on the oval office, but I suppose that’s what those officers have always been good at, kissing some politicians ass for themselves over actually caring about the overall force.
Over my years of service which ended recently I watched benefits get cut, historically low pay raises for the service while workers at the DMV (not fighting a war) received at least standard, if not larger raises than normal, suicide rates go up while the leaders of our military debated such issues as what color socks we could wear for PT and whether or not gender neutral pronouns for rank would make people feel better. Over he last 15 years the military has been both loved and hated to almost every extreme, but most of all, we’ve become a god damn talking point and a vessel for broken promises and something that can be paraded out occasionally to wave to a crowd of people, get a picture taken, get a “thank you for your service” and then shoved back into a broom closet until poll numbers slip again and kissing a baby wont seem to help.
I have now ventured into the dark world of politics working as a blogger and podcaster and realized quickly that as a veteran with an actual perspective on these issues I am quite alone, I don’t mind being one of the few who is still connected within the service and have the ability to accurately defend wrongdoings against our men and women in uniform, I in fact consider it an obligation that I readily accept. There is always an elevation of my blood pressure when I hear random interviews in the media where two people are discussing veterans affairs or the current state of the military, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that part of me constantly whispers to myself “like you have a god damn clue”, it’s not that I don’t appreciate when people try to defend us when we need it, or when certain issues are addressed on the national stage, don’t get me wrong but I’m never convinced that any of these people really give a damn in actuality, they just have the ability to drag the opposing side through the mud using us as the chain they tie to the bumper of their truck.
I will most likely cover several points in this rant, mostly to get a whirlwind of thoughts cleared out of my head and also to provide a little context to those of you who may not know the unique perspective a lot of veterans have about the world around them and the future of our country. First point, that thing in my hands in the above picture is not an assault rifle, it’s a 5.56 mm, magazine fed, gas-operated, air-cooled, semiautomatic or three-round burst, hand-held, shoulder-fired weapon, and it’s a piece of shit if you don’t keep it clean. It’s as effective in taking someones life as the person who carries it, as effective as the knife on my belt, the 9mm pistol on my hip or these two hands if you piss me off enough, it’s a tool, not some specter of violence just thirsting for blood as some people would love to paint it. At least I can take comfort in knowing if anyone ever hands me one of these on national television, after they gasp because I clear the damn thing for safety, I can succinctly answer a question about effectiveness, and whether or not caliber or magazine size really makes any difference if a psychopath wants to lose their mind in a shopping mall.
Second, I’m not angry, I’m passionate. Anger makes the suggestion that I allow certain things to effect me emotionally more than others, yes I have passion on issues, I am able to have this passion because I’ve seen things that would make most of the college students today curl up into the fetal position and demand a safe space. The typical answer I get from people with an opposing view to me when I present them with facts, statistics, and a generally better argument than theirs is “why are you so angry?” Truth is, I’m not, I’ve just lived in a culture of people who say what they mean, in a group of people who don’t feign concern for you feelings, and have been developed by leaders who didn’t view me as a fragile, quivering pupa, but rather as the person who in the future may lead their son or daughter into battle and they were going to make sure I was the best.
Third, I’m not an animal or psychotic. Has anyone seen the meme where the girl is standing with her man-bunned bearded husband and she says “I’m glad my husband isn’t a Soldier” and goes on about some shit where we all need to come home and be put into institutions until we can “adapt back into society”? This is a real opinion that is shared by quite a few of the social justice warriors out there, since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there is a sect of people who have to find a way to counter patriotism and support by turning Soldiers into murderous psychopaths and suggesting we all need to be institutionalized because we have been brainwashed into murdering innocent people.. you know, the Taliban and Al-qaeda, those innocent people.
Fourth, Yes, Bernie Sanders was on the Senate oversight committee for veterans affairs, this doesn’t immediately make me want to jump up and give my vote to Bernie just because he was on a committee that handled issues relevant to me and any suggestion of this is not only ridiculous but very short sighted. I’m not going to get political about his position on this committee at this time, but I will make the statement that the VA was broken under his leadership in the Senate, remains broken now, and I don’t believe that throwing more money at it is a solution, but that’s my opinion. It is a very ill-advised opinion that just because someone is offering you more of something that they have your best interest at heart, not speaking specifically about Sanders, just a general opinion. Veterans come from all walks of life and have various opinions and feelings on any subject, we are as unique as America itself, and to think that we are so simple as to support one candidate or the other because they will give us more of this or that is the exact reason why we know for a fact that you have no god damn idea who we are or what we care about and merely make these statements as a knee jerk reaction and an attempt to turn veterans into one of your victim classes so you can take some contrived moral high ground on an issue you have little to no experience with.
We defend victims, we don’t become them
Finally, to try to make veterans or current servicemembers a victim class you have to attempt to create a culture out of it so it is easily definable and this is where you are having your largest problem. There is indeed a military culture, one that is so unique you wouldn’t even recognize it unless you’ve been in it, go to a mall or amusement park with a veteran and ask them to point out other veterans, you’ll think we have some sort of superpower. The part that is so very difficult for laymen to understand about the military is that you can have a squad where the squad leader “Feels the bern” the SAW gunner wants to “Make America great again” the grenadier doesn’t give a shit, and inevitably there’s that one guy who wants to tell you how Ron Paul got screwed… oddly, not a lot of Hillary supports that I’ve met except for the occasional female who spouts off “we need a woman!’ I’m serious, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, just not a lot of them here. The point I’m making is we support each other, we tease one another, and we have some of the greatest, friendliest discourse you’ll ever find when it comes to politics because at the end of the day we respect our fellow comrades regardless of who they’re going to vote for because we all love America and we all fight for our way of life. What we can’t understand is how angry and upset you all get over politics because we know the real secret, and that secret is the fact that none of those politicians give a shit about you, but understand we are used to hearing someone in charge tell us all the great things they’re going to do only to witness more of the same bullshit we’ve seen our entire careers. If you want to know what veterans or service members want or need, ask them, somehow this has seemed to be the last thing anyone in Washington or the media wants to do, probably because they’d be horrified at the answer.