It strikes me as odd, that people who haven't experienced military culture (what important authors have called "the warrior culture") can't seem to
allow for, or readily concede that they cannot relate to, an experience that most veteran's share.
I say this because I often find myself inwardly ashamed that I entertained an inner posture of 'suffering' the notions presented by armchair warriors,
political patriots, and zealots who, invariably, won't be making the sacrifices involved with the hostilities they are often eager to endorse. This is
an inward matter, mind you. I long ago realized that many, if not most, of those who never served are, at least on the face of the matter, as
deserving of common courtesy and respect as I would want myself. So I usually don't engage them..., because they are likely not to see, or sense, that
they are speaking out of an ignorance they have never really addressed. Such people don't like to be wrong, and even more so when it becomes clear in
front of others.
Many people commonly react as if they were being excluded when a veteran reaches the point of "you wouldn't understand" in a conversation.
There is no shame in not having served. In some of our lives, having served has been a burden. Some resent the warmth they are expected to express for
someone they don't know, don't agree with, or who served in a war they rejected. Most know they will rarely be celebrated, and even then – only in
the most superficial way. Veterans often mistakenly think upon their return to civilian life, that anyone would be eager to hire a vet; after all we
are well trained, fairly disciplined, understand the important of results, and are usually not given to problematic behavior. We are low maintenance,
But in the world where we are expected to seamlessly assimilate, there appears something superfluous to the military experience; something which lacks
the honor, the code, the commitment to success. Some call it the “shark eat shark”, “it’s always gonna be this way”, “if you want it bad
enough… you’ll do what it takes” world.
Many simply cannot understand the fact that we put ourselves into a regimented way of life, maintained a standard of professionalism, and learned to
actually be responsible, rather than be theoretically responsible for something. We accepted a different code; one that showed us what men and women
are capable of doing when we set our petty personal selves aside for a greater ideal.
All military life isn't as alien as some would think it. It isn't just being told what to do, where to go, when to get up. It isn't about glamor; it's
not about the imposition of who you are on anyone; it isn’t about belonging to a special club of people.
It’s about having a common standard; you will support yours and they will support you – period. Things like petty favoritism, vindictive actions;
ignorant biases cannot long thrive in the “warrior culture,” there simply isn’t enough room in the code to support it. The ‘job’ must get
Many veterans know what I know. We understand that the level of commitment and trust required to do what we do (or did) is not the stuff of everyday
life. Some are proud of it, have embraced it, and are willing to do something when they see a vet (especially one they know) in need; or facing trials
that each of them eventually face. Others bear it like a mark of martyrdom, some spend their lives trying to eradicate the memories, or become
mentally dysmorphic (trying to reinvent a person that never was)..., one devoid of the experiences which make us feel different from the smiling
office drones, unsympathetic leaders, and functionaries whose role it is to “make with the pretty words…,”
I had always wondered at the fact that my father was so reticent to discuss his combat experiences in Guam, and Okinawa during World War II, and then
the Korean “police action." Unlike me, he wasn't one to wax on and on about his past. Perhaps because he knew then, what I am only now learning; no
one really cares. And it is really no one’s fault that this is so.
It is ultimately irrelevant, what veterans have gone through. No one has time to consider the past in these days of information overload. Since the
days after the wars of my father, we have become a people consumed with the glamor of a new culture invented by others.
Most veterans become the kind of people who can’t fear sudden change. Most have endured the most intense changes a person can experience. Our
tendency in the military was to call a spade a spade, or refuse to say anything. This civilian world seems intent on insisting that we must
“speak” pretty ideas, and notions, “rah rah!” even when we don’t see or feel the ‘magic’ imagery they craft for us. We must coddle, in
the civilian world, the sentiments and emotions of those who lead us; while in the military code, those would unprofessional and embarrassing
When I see two people who trust each other, I welcome the idea of being included. Veterans, most especially those who work together, trust each other
– because of the code.
I am glad I am a veteran. I didn’t waste twelve years of my life to be told it doesn’t matter, and I refuse the idea that I should not have it on
a resume because it does not translate to any value in today’s world. Even if I never amount to much in this new TV world of ours…, I am a vet…
I did something that mattered, because someone had to.
And I know that no soldier, marine, airmen, or sailor sacrificed any less than I. They deserve any help I can muster. Sadly, all I can do is write…
and plainly not all too well.
Perhaps it is a sign to me now..., I take comfort that I have experienced the path my father tread, and emerged alive afterwards, just as he did.
What I have seen and experienced defies recounting. What I learned was that when people truly relinquish their personal baggage to live up to a task,
as is the code in the military, we can achieve the impossible.
Perhaps it is about mutual trust; trust in a code that serves you as much it you serve it.
If you serve it completely, it will serve you completely – every time and without fail.
Next time you feel like bashing stupid veterans for being ‘complicit’ in a war…. think twice. That is not how it works…, and rightly so. Or it
wouldn’t work at all.
edit on 10-11-2013 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)