You may know of a friend or family member that appears all gung-ho about promoting those that serve in our armed forces. These are the same people that post on Facebook to remember those that served on Veterans Day. I am not attempting to be discourteous or unthankful. But I wanted to send out a message that every member of our military past and present should be treated with the same honors as those that served or did serve on combat front lines. The reason I post this particular blog is that of how some that support our troops seem to be selective about whom they support. I remind everyone that a veteran or military member is an equal brother or sister to the organization. “Without each other, we are lost. When we are lost, we risk losing.”
Several family members of mine recently posted Facebook support efforts of active duty soldiers, sailors, and marines. What made this a bit more personal for me was that in the comments area there was a note about a soldier that worked in a supply unit. The message eluded to that particular soldier was lucky because he had “a cushy job out of harm’s way.” This is that moment where as a fellow veteran myself when the soda spewed from my mouth with force across the table. I was outraged at how people that have never served in the military or never asked another veteran what active duty was like. I served both in tanks and administration, but my primary job was armored tanks. My job duties were always training in battlefield conditions and sometimes plucking me in the center of hostile activity. I am no war hero. Instead, I like to believe that people such as that supply clerk, field cook, army medic, communication repair specialist and topographic specialist were equally responsible for keeping me alive. Ask any commander regardless of branch, and they will tell you that the supply centers and rear support are the most vulnerable to attacks by the enemy. Therefore all veterans and active duty personnel should be extended the same courtesies and salutes as those on the front line. After all, without the support units, we won’t get beans, bullets, and gasoline. These are the components that keep a military moving and strong.
A bit of reflection and looking back at my immediate reaction of disappointment and a bit of hostility towards those selective in who they choose as real soldiers provided a window in how we respect one another. For example, in the civilian world, these same particular people are the ones that won’t thank those that slaved in the kitchen to prepare their dinner. They are the people who look down on housekeeping or janitors that clean up after our messy selves rather than take a moment to seek a trash can. They are the ones that complain about not finding help at a store while an employee tasked with 20 different items before the close of his/her shift is barely making a minimal wage. We just don’t seem to raise an equal level of respect for one another. Instead, those tend to focus on the most obvious as the hero rather than the entire organization. These are lessons that the Army taught me. It wasn’t perfect, but we managed to do our mission with as much precision as humanly possible, with respect and honor. Perhaps that is what is missing from some that support our troops. They don’t get it but pretend they do. If you stop to listen to a veteran story, you may learn more than you bargained for and learned who real heroes are even if they are not visible on the front line.