Stop Apologizing For Being a Veteran!
June 1, 2016
Veterans really need to stop apologizing for being a veteran and acting like they just do not deserve anything. I get into all kinds of conversations but usually they start out with "I'm sorry to bother you, but" and then they go on to tell me what is on their mind. That is what I'm here for. Isn't it?
I have a job that pays my bills from 6 am to 1 pm and from 1 pm to 9 pm working for veterans is emotionally priceless, especially when they tell me that it all makes sense now to them. Sooner of later I figure out that the help they got before that beat them down instead of lifting them up.
Just had one of those calls.
Veterans need to understand there is nothing they need they would need had they not served. Physical, emotional and often financial needs after leaving the service are there because they served, risked their lives, endured all kinds of hardships and then got beaten down when they tried to get help, advice or simply someone to talk to.
Ok, that said, start with the simple fact that you will never, ever totally fit back in with civilians. They are not like you and you are no longer like them. You used to be but the day you put on your first pair of GI boots, it is almost as if the soles sucked up military energy straight into your soul. Sure, when you got out you put on a pair of sneakers or sandals but the boots got into your bloodstream.
You went from civilian to GI (government issued) to veteran. You did not go back to being called civilian again for that reason. Find other veterans. If you cannot find your age group, then find a group of veterans you at least feel comfortable with. Peer support groups work for a reason, a shared experience, even if that experience happens years or decades apart.
You are entitled to have all the same rights as civilians but because you served you get more. One of them is the VA. It is there for you because you earned the right to go there for medical care and, if disabled, compensation for what your service did to you. The problem is, the VA cannot predict the influx of veterans finally figuring that one out. If you show up, you need to get in line, so be prepared for that.
One more thing on that part is it is not all their fault. We've seen all that is wrong being wrong for decades. Congress has jurisdiction of the VA but they hate to remind anyone of that. I've been tracking all this for decades and can assure you that none of this is new.
If you have a claim and they turn you down, go to one of the established groups like the DAV, VFW and American Legion so they can make sure you submit everything you need and get help to fight for yourself. Do not take no as the final answer if you know you are telling the truth. Hate to say it but, more often than not, if a veteran takes his story to the press, it gets fixed really fast.
If you read an article in a newspaper and it is wrong, like the "22 a day" contact the reporter and get them to fix it or defend it or expand on it. They get paid to report but they don't get to make it up as they go along or pretend they did even basic research. If they didn't take time to do that, then you know they didn't really care.
If you have a problem with the VA, then contact your member of Congress. They may pretend to not have known any of this has been going on, but look up all the years and all the excuses given, then look up how long your elected official has been in office. You'll notice how they have been shocked many, many times before, promised to do something only to discover it was no where close to being what was necessary.
Hold members of Congress accountable. Look up their voting record. Call them and ask them questions. You owe them nothing and remember, they want your vote. Make them earn it.
If you are looking for a job, then be proud of the fact you were part of a team risking their lives instead of just their egos. If the employer is worried about you having PTSD, then remind them because of the VA working on PTSD since the 80's, civilians have been getting helped for traumas that happened to them and they will never be able to tell if that candidate has PTSD or not.
Do not be ashamed if you have PTSD since they are ignorant of what it is, only be ashamed if you have not finally figured that out yourself. You do not have to disclose it to them anymore than you have to disclose any other medical condition that does not hinder the job you want to be hired to do.
If you turn to a charity claiming to be doing something for veterans, make sure they actually are and if not, then get on social media and let others know so they think twice before giving them any money or sending anyone to them. (That includes me)
You did your job. It is time to stop apologizing for that and start making sure other people do their jobs.