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Please don’t thank me for my service

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.
Art by the amazing Lora Zombie. (two days in a row, because I love her art)

Yesterday was veterans day, the day before that was the Marine Corps birthday. I purposefully was going to ignore both, but an interaction on twitter the other day made me realize that I should at least touch on the subject. My feelings surrounding my service have always been complicated, but why not talk about it?

What’s the difference between murder and killing? It’s a question I’ve struggled to answer over the years. We could define killing as self defense, but then we need to figure out how to define self defense and that may not be as easy as you think. Go on, give it a shot, where do you draw the line? Maybe you have an easier time with it than I do, but wherever you set that boundary, in the end it’s all subjective.

I admit it, I was young and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. High school was hell and I didn’t want to do another four years of that by going to college. I had dreams of protecting the country and doing something to help people. I think wanting to help people has been a theme in my life because as a kid I needed help, but no one ever came.

I’ll just get to the point, my service is a burden. I did nothing to help my country. Not a single person is safer because I went to war. My service only helped make the military-industrial complex richer. War is a business, the military is a business, and like any business the people on the bottom do the work while the people on the top make the profit.

I risked my life, buried my friends, and will live with lifelong scars both mentally and physically. All my suffering and the suffering of people I care about, just to make sure that congressmen and business people turn a profit. I’m not proud of my service because it wasn’t in service of the American people, just the American businessperson.

Moreover, I lived and that is a problem for the government because I still have agency. If I was dead I would be a story, a hero, a reason for others to join. Instead I’m a liability and the story I’m telling you is exactly the reason why my being alive is a problem. It’s why the VA healthcare system has been gutted and why I have literally almost died because of their incompetence and indifference.

The government loves to thank me for my service while trying to kill me. I’m not the only one who feels this way, in fact we have an epidemic of veterans killing themselves in VA parking lots in an attempt to bring attention to the problem. The issue is killing myself is exactly what the government wants, all the while “thanking me for my service.”

You don’t need to thank me for serving. That doesn’t mean you can’t sympathize with the conditions I have to live in. I don’t need thanks, I need enough people to care that things change, for me and millions of others. I’m alive 364 other days of the year, a day where I get half off at a restaurant doesn’t do anything to make the conditions we have to live with better.

If advocating for veterans doesn’t get your motivation going, that’s fine. I’m not asking for help, I just don’t like that we pretend saying thanks is anything other than a fuck you. Just say fuck you. Say fuck you for living. Fuck you for not dying. Fuck you for being broken. Fuck you for buying into the propaganda. Just straight out fuck you. At least it would be more honest.

To be clear, I’m not trying to shame anyone. I simply don’t want you to feel obligated to thank me. I get told thank you all the time by the people who want me dead. If you care then do something to help stop them from killing us, if not then that’s cool too. We can still be friends, just stop trying to thank me for my service.


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