Thursday, November 11, 2010
You Don't Have to Say Thank You
I'm taking a break from my regularly scheduled NaNo whining, to tell you a little about what being a veteran means to me:
A common misconception is that only those who have served in combat or those who have retired from active duty can be called military veterans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veteran).
I was 17 when I signed a contract to serve 5 years in the United States Army as a Military Police Officer. Two weeks after my 18th birthday I hugged my momma and daddy good-bye and was shipped off to basic training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. I was young, naive and wanted nothing more than to serve, protect and kick the crap out of bad guys.
The reality of military life is 12 hour shifts, working 7 days straight then finally getting one day off, no holidays (well, hell someone had to work them!), missing my grandparents funerals while overseas, not having enough funds to fix broken military vehicles and weapons, being paid below poverty level and riding a bike because I couldn't afford a car. Heartache over watching soldiers take their own lives or physically abuse their spouses blaming the military for their stress. Wondering some days if it was all worth it.
And in all my five years I only got to kick the crap out of one bad guy.
Would I do it all again? Was it all worth it? Damn skippy. Being a soldier isn't easy, but that's not the point. Being a soldier isn't about getting a thank you one day out of the year. Being a soldier is about the greater good. It's about protecting the innocent during times of peace and conflict. Making sure the generations that come after us have freedom and a country worth fighting for.
I'm proud to be a veteran and to have served my country. I think most veterans would agree, you don't have to say thank you to us. We've served our time. The thanks should go out to those men and women who continue to serve day in and day out, putting on their uniforms and risking their lives. For us.
Thank you, soldiers and to my fellow veterans, Happy Veterans Day.