I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
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11-11-2010, 04:55 PM
 
I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
So, many moons ago, I served as a small arms repairer and paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division during the second phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Long story short, I had issues with anxiety/depression/suicide/etc... and ended up getting out. I wouldn't trade my combat experience for anything in the world, but knowing what I know now, I would probably not do it again. Especially, at the age I did.

Anyway, every year, I give a presentation to my wife's history classes regarding the positive and negative aspects of military life. Sure, it can be a great way to find self-esteem, discipline, and physical fitness. It also carries a higher risk of suicide, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and overall self-destruction if you're not careful.

Yesterday, I gave a pretty in-depth and graphic presentation. the kids responded well to it. We had enlightening and informative discussions.

When I came home, my wife called from the school and said, "I just got off the phone with a dad who was pretty pissed."

I thought, "Oh, fucking great. Now what?"

She said, "His son is in my fourth hour class and went home to tell him that some guy came in and gave a presentation trashing the military."

I was confused. As many issues as I have with the military, I am grateful for what it taught me and would not speak ill of it.

She said, "That's not even the worst part. His dad is a recruiter here in town."

So, I got his name and called his recruiting office personally. It was mildly awkward considering I haven't talked to a recruiter in eight years. I did some damage control and explained what my presentation was all about. I explained that not everyone has the same glorious military career and there are certain risks you take. He agreed and seemed satisfied with that answer.

My take on the situation is that the kid was immediately on the defensive because of who his dad is and only heard what he wanted to hear. I also find it kind of shitty that he called the school and got pissed about the situation. If anything, it was a golden opportunity to teach his son that opinions and experiences will differ and he should hear people out.

Finally, I explained that while I respect what recruiters do (a difficult job that I could never do), I also think it must be someone's responsibility to explain to kids that military life is not all parades and sunshine. You can get hurt, physically and emotionally. Granted, the military is a little more open-minded when it comes to the mental health issue, but there are still some serious flaws in it's system.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great day.

Tyler J.
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12-11-2010, 12:15 AM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
(11-11-2010 04:55 PM)tjenkins_1983 Wrote:  If anything, it was a golden opportunity to teach his son that opinions and experiences will differ and he should hear people out.

Unfortunately, this IS the rule, not the exception. If I had a piece of gold for every missed golden opportunity in the world I would be able to buy Canada, the USA, Japan, China and the former USSR and have enough left over to make Bill Gates look like a pauper.
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12-11-2010, 05:32 AM
 
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
Something else I found disturbing was the fact that he immediately became pissed off at the idea that someone, somewhere MAY HAVE BEEN speaking negatively about the military.
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12-11-2010, 08:02 AM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
First, I think a combat vet owes no apology to anyone for voicing their opinion on the military. You volunteered to serve your country, put yourself in harms way and fought for the freedom to voice an opinion. I appreciate you wanted to be respectful of a fellow soldier, but I think you would have been well within your rights to tell him to piss off.

As for the issue at large, this guy is a salesman selling a product and you just dissed his product in front of a whole bunch of potential customers. Anything less then a glowing testimonial raises the odds that he won't be able to meet his recruiting quota at some point in the future. There were some fairly despicable stories about recruiting tactics the military was using a few years ago to basically sucker naive kids into signing over their lives and I'm not the least bit surprised a recruiter would have an issue with what you said. I know someone in the Air Force who was a recruiter in the Pittsburgh area for 2 or 3 years and he hated it. From there he went to Saudi Arabia and Iraq and, despite the increased risk, was much happier.

Which bring me back to point 1.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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12-11-2010, 11:03 AM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
As a soldier, I know what you mean. Yes, getting into a combat is pritty risky for your own self, BUT (and like you see- it's a big but)- when someone want to go to the battle for his country- he doesn't think about it. And to tell you the truth- I don't think he should. I, for example, really wanted to do a combat job, but due to my weight the army didn't let me. When I still had the chance (before the day draft) to gain weight and dream about a combat job- I didn't thought about the personal implications at all. I just wanted to do something useful during 2 years of service (well...3 years if I would've got into a combat job). Eventually I got into an intereting job and pritty important one, but it still isn't a combat job. When you start thinking about personal implications, you start to fear. And fear has no place during a battle.

And about this dad- everyone has the right to think what they want about the military, especially in a country which its existence isn't in the hands of its military entirely.
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12-11-2010, 02:33 PM
 
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
Update: The kid is now being a complete dirtbutton in my wife's class.
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12-11-2010, 04:05 PM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
I'd say a second call to his dad is now in order.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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16-11-2010, 01:04 PM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
Also a soldier here, and all i do is trash talk the military to civilians... but I wouldn't trade anything for my military experiences. I think it's due to all the trash talking soldiers do to each other on a day to day basis (man, this mission is f'ing stupid... retard 1st sgt trying to get us killed... WHY are we sitting here guarding this dirt road for 14 hours??) that it just carries over. And since all civilians generally do is praise soldiers, it comes off as derogatory to them.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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17-11-2010, 07:08 PM
 
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
(16-11-2010 01:04 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  Also a soldier here, and all i do is trash talk the military to civilians... but I wouldn't trade anything for my military experiences. I think it's due to all the trash talking soldiers do to each other on a day to day basis (man, this mission is f'ing stupid... retard 1st sgt trying to get us killed... WHY are we sitting here guarding this dirt road for 14 hours??) that it just carries over. And since all civilians generally do is praise soldiers, it comes off as derogatory to them.

I totally agree. When I came back, I pretty much ignored people because I hated responding to all of the "thank you's" and such. I still feel uncomfortable when someone says it. I just tell them I'm glad to be home since I feel "welcome home" would be more appropriate. When they say thank you, all I really want to say is, "Man, if you had any idea how little I did while I was there, you'd be taking that 'thank-you' back pretty damned quick."

Honestly, I was never more bored in my life than when I was in Iraq. And that was in 2003 when it was all fucking crazy! (Of course, it's always been crazy.)

Anyway, you hit the nail on the head. People take it all way too seriously. When a veteran says, "I was just doing my job", they're exactly right. It was a job. It doesn't make us saints. Veterans deal with a lot of the same boring, mundane, and negative shit that civilians deal with in their everyday jobs. It's just that, sometimes, we take live fire.
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17-11-2010, 10:09 PM
RE: I Am A Veteran (Kind of funny story)
I think what you're experiencing is a combination of guilt and gratitude from people like me who never had any interest in serving in the military and still reap the benefits of those who do. I appreciate the fact that there are people willing to join a cause that is bigger then them and to put their lives in danger to defend something so I can stay home and be a smart-ass.

As for slobbering over the military, I make it a point not to do that. What I have done, though is the following:
- on two occasions I've been in an airport bar with men and women in uniform. In both cases I anonymously paid for some or all of their tab. I did it anonymously because it wasn't about me and I didn't want to embarrass either them or me. On a 3rd occasion when the the tab had already been paid I sent one soldier a beer, also anonymously. Again, it was not about me and I didn't need a thank you.
- I work with an ex-Marine who is a Viet Nam vet. Every year on the Marine Corps birthday (the day before Veterans Day) I make it a point to take him out and buy him a beer and toast the Corps with him.

Very small things, but, to me, they are important. What you guys do is an important job and while I won't always agree with how you are utilized by politicians, I recognize the sacrifice and these are my small ways of saying "thanks".

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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