I grew up thinking that every person who served in the military was a hero of some sort. I knew of a few that I went to church with that served with dignity and honor. A few, like my old neighbor, was a POW air crew that was loathed to say something ugly about the Germans. But I learned in my twenties and thrities, after my discharge, that many veterans are just regular “schmoes”.
But even worse, I learned that some of them are pieces of shit. Many stayed moronic cousin loving bumpkins and low end cretins that couldn’t be counted on to evolve into something that society would want.
There had always been a bridge that military veterans needed to cross to be civilians. I had always thought that “we” never did enough to help veterans become adjusted to normal life, PTSD or no PTSD. But I ended up looking at myself and a few other veterans, then found out that many of us weren’t doing our parts to be normal contributing members of society.
Many of us chose to be weirdos and stodgy characters that couldn’t learn anything. Sticking with the idea that if civilians just had a year or so of infantry training (or shipboard life) that we could get things straightened out.
The opposite was true. Many veterans I know could have benefitted from learning how to add something productive during a meeting, volunteering for a PR stunt, or some other thing that we overlook that we don’t understand.
I do believe that we should have some short programs to get veterans acclimated to civilian life, (much like a reverse boot camp or cool down period which has been pitched for returning combat veterans). We should have already had training programs for servicemembers leaving their service so they aren’t drains on society.
(I have made the argument that I have met many vets that were lazy and unintelligent, not the heroes that we really want them to be. But I also know that the military thought nothing of getting their years out of someone and doing the bare minimum to kick their asses out of the gate).
But as much as many of these ass wiping veterans organizations do, they don’t make all veterans the shiny knights you make them out to be. Some of them are bozos, morons, and useless idiots. Much like many civilians I have met.
(Special thanks to one or two veterans organizations I know of for infantilizing many veterans, dropping the bar lower than what any man could ever dream of).