Together we served
This is probably not the post you think it is. It’s Veteran’s day, which if you don’t know me or haven’t seen my previous posts on the matter, I’m not a huge fan of it. Sure, celebrations, free food, blah, blah, blah, all great. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come off as the person who doesn’t like a party, or worse someone who wants to berate people for having fun. No, I just don’t particularly care about the day. But since it’s here, I will give my semi-regular reminder that Veteran’s day isn’t about the Veterans at all. It’s about feeling good about war and giving politicians an excuse to, “out appreciate” each other. I mean what gives me the right to complain about how Veterans are being treated when I get a free* meal once a year at Applebees?
*restrictions and exclusions apply, food may be stepped on, offer not valid if still living, see store trash can for details,
Remember a few decades ago when people actually cared about COVID? They were hoarding toilet paper (why!?!) and just generally acting like the world was coming to an end. It was a weird time, but I think it really highlighted something about America and probably the world as a whole and that thing, just happens to be the thing that pisses me off like no other about Veteran’s day. Whole murals went up thanking doctors and nurses for their service. People were leaning hard into it and suddenly everyone was grateful for the hard work they did. Store workers were suddenly “essential” and got
combat hazard pay for coming to work to stock groceries or to keep flipping burgers. Jobs that just a month prior were being looked down on as “unskilled” as if half the people saying that knew how to make a sandwich much less cook a burger or work a frier.
Then just as quickly as it came, doctors were bad. Vaccines were bad. Masks were bad. FUCK IT, LET’S SPREAD THE FUCKING DISEASE AND IF YOU DIE YOU DIE. And now instead of having sensible requirements like wearing a mask when you’re in public to keep people from literally dying, we have a “you do you” narative being pushed. Oh and the “heros” that kept the world turning while you couldn’t find the charmin? Well, who needs them?
And that my friends is Veteran’s day in a nutshell.
Thank me for my service? Go fuck yourself. Seriously. Sure you mean well and I appreciate the thought, but that’s the bare minimum. Words, it’s just words. Sure you see me, but what does that do? Who does that help? What good does a free mediocre meal from a select menu at a cheap restaurant one day a year do? Well aside from make people who come up with those promotions feel good about themselves and it’s mostly (all) PR anyway, so who the hell cares about the Veteran.
Here’s the deal, there are 364 days a year that aren’t Veterans day. And there’s a epidemic of Veteran suicides IN THE FUCKING VA PARKING LOT SPECIFICALLY to draw attention to the fact that no one cares and guess what? Oh do you not know about that? Well, no one is writing about it BECAUSE NO ONE CARES. Am I making this clear yet? Oh don’t believe me? Feel free to google it, I can wait.
Thanking me for my service is like saying hello, robotic, automatic, and serves minimum purpose. It’s a way to feel good about yourself when I point out that Veterans are killing themselves at alarming rates because people love a hero, but hate Veterans. Veterans are messy and human, we’re just another person on the street and that doesn’t mean anything to the average person. It doesn’t set us apart. We aren’t in our uniforms or in parades, we’re just the person standing in line next to you at the supermarket trying to survive. And that doesn’t make for a good story.
The same thing happens with school shootings or damn near any major event. People start making paintings or shrines or whatever. But the second someone wants meaningful change it’s, “fuck you, sit down, and shut up.” None of it is real, it’s all just a big social game we play. Oh it’s Halloween, let’s dress up and hand out candy. Oh,now it’s Veteran’s day let’s thank some people and give them a free dollar-menu burger.
That’s where my anger stems from, thank me for my service? Fuck you.
Let me tell you something you already know. No one cares. Not enough to do something about it anyway. You want to thank a Veteran? Write a letter to a congressperson and hold them accountable for not funding the VA. Hold them accountable for trying to privatize the VA under the guise of “helping Veterans.” The VA or Veterans’ Affairs is a completely separate budget from the military spending so that trillion dollars going to make sure we die with equipment from the cheapest bidder does absolutely nothing to help fund Veteran care.
But no one cares. And what’s worse is the pandemic has made it abundantly clear that people will actively fight for the “freedom” to try to kill you than do the bare minimum to keep you safe.
So this Veteran’s day and for that matter any Veteran’s day, just say fuck you. Just do it, because at least it’s honest. It’s what most of you are thinking even if you don’t want to admit it. Who am I!!! to tell YOU that you don’t respect Veterans? Right? Because it’s easier to get angry at me or look at the work FUCK and say, “oh he can’t even make his fucking point without watching his goddamn fucking language, clearly he has no fucking clue what the fuck he’s talking about and I’m going to go back to fucking ignoring him now.”
And… assuming you, my lovely reader even made it this far, the saddest part of all of this is simply this
I don’t blame you.
I don’t. Truely, because why the hell should you care about someone else? No, seriously. Who am I to you? Do you know me? For those of you who are regulars, sure we have a mutual connection, but if you’re new around here, who am I? If I died tomorrow why would it matter to you? No, and that’s okay because that’s generally how we’re wired.
On average 500 people a day, that’s EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. DAY. are dying because of COVID. Are you losing sleep over it? Are you laying out 500 flowers everyday for them? No, we get up, go to work, and continue with life. Some of us wear the mask because it’s the least we can do to keep others safe, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t enough because it’s a team effort and most of the people on the team are perfectly fine letting strangers die off enmass so they don’t have to deal with the discomfort of a piece of fabric touching their face while around others.
There’s a sad fact about Veterans, we’re dying at an alarming rate. Not quite the “COVID IS OVER!” rate, but a significant amount of us are dying. I was almost counted among that statistic if it weren’t for stupid dumb luck. I can’t even kill myself properly, so why listen to me babble on about how no one cares about Veterans, right? And it’s frustrating because people in congress are actively trying to make sure we die at a faster rate. Truely, because to the government I’m worth more to them dead than alive. They have to spend money (literally) to keep me alive, if I’m not around that’s pure profit. Multiply that by the roughly 16.5 million veterans in the US (as of 2021) and the savings add up fast.
What’s a few of us literally shooting ourselves in the VA parking lot, if it means saving a dollar?
So sure, I get the urge to feel good about yourself. Everyone wants a dopamine hit, we all go out of our way for it. I want people to look at me and say “wow, I want to be like him!” because it makes me feel good about myself and because I’ve heard far too many, “wow, glad I’m not him!” in my life (semi-joking). But seriously, I get it. Saying, “Thank you for your service!” makes you feel like you did a good deed. You metaphorically “helped a little ol’ lady across the street” and as an added bonus you didn’t have to go out of your way to do it.
If you want a high-five from a Veteran then I can’t stop you. And I will even begrudgingly give it to you when you catch me out in public and for whatever reason discover my Veteran status. I mean I have manners and shit. But if you even remotely care, then don’t. It’s less work for the both of us, you don’t have to pretend to care and I don’t have to pretend to be grateful. It’s a win-win for both of us.
And in the off chance for whatever reason, even after all the profanity,* you made it this far AND you find yourself nodding your head while realizing a few things about yourself that you weren’t previously aware of (happens to all of us I assure you), then I have a bit of advice. If you truly want to thank a Veteran than I am dead serious, harass your politicians. Call them day or night, write angry emails overly using the word FUCK, leave angry FUCKING voicemails. Make their existence on this planet a little less smug. Politicians ask us to die for our country, to that I say lead by example. Since we (mostly?) aren’t politicians, it’s our job to hold them responsible.
This Veterans day and every day, don’t thank a Veteran. Do something to improve the quality of life for a Veteran. Make the call, make sure that they know people are watching and that there are some, even if it’s just a vocal few, who do care about how many Veterans are killing themselves in VA parking lots because we cannot get the proper care (by design) and how disgusted you are to know that fact. We need funding for the VA, not free 7-11 hotdogs one day a year (or ever, eww). So call and complain to a politician, then maybe you can thank me for my service and I will give you a genuine smile. Maybe, if I like you and you use enough fucking swear words in those calls.
Or don’t, I mean who the fuck am I to tell you what to do? I’m just some random Veteran who clearly doesn’t appreciate the fact that I’m a Veteran, right?
* Profanity, which I intentionally do not sensor, who the fuck sensors profanity? What purpose does it serve, you still THINK the work fuck if I write f*ck, right? So let’s just say (or rather write) fuck. No one is going to die from it, unlike Veterans killing themselves to bring attention to the fact that more people care about fucking profanity than keeping Veterans alive. Get the point now?
** The smallest of notes here, I genuinely tried not to write this. Every year I tell myself I’m just going to ignore it, but I can’t because people are actively dying. So here we are again. Happy fucking Veteran’s day, I’m fucking exhausted.
For what it’s worth, you talking about this general situation has made a difference. I can only speak to how I act differently as a result, but, that’s something, and maybe it means others have been or will be affected the same way.
When I would see people calling for donations or what have you on behalf of veterans, the thoughts that went through my head used to sound something like this: “Don’t they get their care paid out of our tax dollars? What more is there to do? Anyway if they do need some things they can’t get from the government, I’m sure they have enough help – half the country hero-worships them. I’ll put my resources toward a more ignored cause.” I had heard, in a general way, about suicidal vets and homeless vets, but I guess that felt like an inevitability rather than something that sprang from a lack of resources, because how could there be a lack of resources? How could you be neglected when it was an article of patriotism to adore you?
Obviously I don’t think that way anymore, and it’s mainly because of you telling your story and otherwise talking about the issue. It’s very eye-opening. I didn’t know the hero-worship was a lot of lip service and not enough substance. I didn’t know anybody was being dumped on the street to die.
I’ve said this over and over, you know this, but you matter to me and I’m glad you’re still here. It’s true that I don’t know any of the others (I mean I do know other veterans, but none who came back badly injured or suicidal) – they’re abstractions to me. But that’s only a matter of circumstances. If things had been shuffled a little differently, maybe I would know some of them, maybe I would have adopted them and be as fond of them as I am of you. I’m grateful to the people whose names I don’t even know, who kept you alive when I wasn’t yet aware you existed. So I don’t get an out; I don’t get to not care just because I’ve never met or talked to any of the ones who are dying. If you ask me, you shouldn’t give people an out. I agree with you that human nature tends to give lip service to the good, yet bend toward selfishness … but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. If our nature’s garbage, then it’s time to stop being natural.
Side note (kind of): few things frustrate me more than those people who seem to think that the worst harm you can commit is “judging” someone. That making someone uncomfortable by calling out their bad behavior is worse than the bad behavior, up to and including things that kill people. I simply do not understand that.
I’ll be honest with you and say I haven’t yelled at a politician about this yet. Mainly because it seems that my current triad of Senators + Rep. are actually trying to increase funding; they all voted for the PACT act, for instance. But the fact I even know about the PACT act is a testament that something’s different; I wouldn’t have paid attention before. There were a couple veteran-relevant ballot issues this year in CO too, and I voted for them. (They passed, too.) You aren’t just screaming into the void.
You are worth the world, and so are all the other veterans. Every one of them deserves somebody who will fight for them.
LikeLiked by 1 person
November 11, 2022 at 11:24 pm
Thank you, Jenny! It means a lot to me to have your support.
Yeah, Veterans get the short end of the stick a lot. The worst part is there’s a lot of shady Veterans organizations that take advantage, or if not dubious just outright scamming. So even wanting to help by donating to a Veterans charity can be a losing proposition for everyone involved (aside from the “charity” of course). I’ve gotten so many letters to pay dues to join different organizations that it’s just outright frustrating, even if they don’t fall under “scammy.”
I’m happy to hear your Senators/Reps are actually trying to help. The PACT act was great news for a lot of us exposed to that burn pit shit (literally). It almost didn’t pass too, which I think didn’t help my anger towards the government as a whole.
Anyway, as usual I appreciate your support and friendship. It’s nice having someone to bounce ideas off of and point out when I’m being dumb 🙂
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November 12, 2022 at 7:52 pm
Wait a second, did I say you were being dumb? Haha, you (affectionate). I think you take being contradicted with more humility than I do. Not that I get mad, I just keep arguing forever.
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November 13, 2022 at 12:58 am
Haha! Maybe not in so many words. Thank you, but I think I also tend to argue longer than I should in most cases.
November 14, 2022 at 9:45 pm
WOW, another gut wrenching post. Very eye opening. I was married to a military man for 11 years. However, we divorced after he retired and I wasn’t around when he used the VA and was treated for lung cancer and died. So I really have no idea how badly Veterans are treated. I will think twice now before thanking someone for their service. I will write my congressman and ask for more VA funding. I’m glad you’re still around I enjoy your posts especially ones that make me think.
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November 12, 2022 at 2:30 pm
Oh wow, I had no idea. The divorce rate in the military is probably astronomical partly due to the lack of mental health care, but especially the lack of care after you finish (or are forced out) of active service. I know he was your ex, but I’m sorry for your loss. None of that could’ve been easy for you, even if the after divorce stuff was happening at a distance.
For me anyway (I’m sure other vets have their opinions), it’s one thing if you know the person. I mean we’re friends, if only via internet, so if you said it to me I at least wouldn’t roll my eyes at you (haha).
Thank you for taking the time to do write, it helps more than you know and I’m glad you’re around too!
November 12, 2022 at 7:58 pm