We were a mean looking bunch on our way to Iraq weren’t we? Or perhaps the plane had us all on the verge of puking. I barely got my war in, just barely. Literally I was deployed in March of 2003 and my contract was set to be up in June. Once there, I did my job as a Marine Grunt with little fanfare. I patrolled outside the wire, stood post, baked in the sun, and came back home. There was a little pew pew pew here and a little pew pew pew there, but to be honest the Wasit Province of Iraq in 2003 was relatively calm and they were pretty stingy with the pew. By the time I returned home, my time was up but I did get to attend one last Marine Corps Ball that November. As we all sat there fresh from war and looking sharp in our Blues that actually had stuff on them now, I couldn’t help but notice the guys that joined the unit while we were deployed. Too young to drink a beer with nothing but a fire watch ribbon for decoration, they nurtured their feelings with birthday cake while the rest of us paid them no attention. So what of it?
Fast Forward to 2016
The military community has been awash with stories of Privates with hurt feelings because the Army Combat Patches of the Veterans who deployed makes them sad. Well, no worries Private, the Army combat patch system makes me sad too because it looks absolutely hideous. Seriously Army, what’s up with the Velcro patch system. You look like my daughter’s Vacation Bible School story board and it’s like you have been married to the country for so long you are not even trying to look pretty anymore. Would it hurt you to get out of your bathrobe every now and again?
And then just today, I read a story from ASMDSS which indicated the Army has issued a directive that the term “Battle Buddy” is being replaced with the term “Warrior Companion” because it could be hurtful to those who have not experienced combat. Aside from the fact that “Warrior Companion” is only about a half-step away from being called a Teddy Ruxpin, it is almost as if the sentiment is that those who have deployed ought to be the ones ashamed for having done so without bringing junior along.
Well, have no fear my brothers and babies in arms, I’m here to bridge the gap. The problem the military currently faces is nothing new and perhaps we can take a few lessons from history to move forward. Sure, millennials or whatever this generation is now seems to be a “feelings” problem unique to history, but I think we can still accommodate. Because honestly Privates, the military will get over it but you are just embarrassing yourself. Don’t whine, just don’t and history will remember you more favorably.
School Circle Privates
Has it ever occurred to you what it was like to join the military in 1975? I actually have some blog followers who do and they have commented on the matter before and I hope they comment on this blog. Has it ever occurred to you what it was like to join the military in 1953? Has it ever occurred to you what it was like to join the Marine Corps in 1945? Has it ever occurred to you what it was like to join the military in 1918? Do you think Animal Mother would be kind to you if you joined a month too late?
Okay, these are wars kids, you were literally in High School last year so don’t tell me you forgot it already. The point is that new recruits joining a battle hardened military is nothing new under the sun. I can just hear the 1945 Private now as he complains about walking up the hill to the chow hall and the salty vet rings in, “It’s no Suribachi, but you wouldn’t know because you weren’t there.” Here me now and here me loud kids, if you join a post-war military history says it’s just the way it is. Pro tip: the Vet who only messes with you when no other vets are around is the poser. But come to terms with it however you must, but you are going to hear it and no void of patches or combat action ribbons are going to save you from it. So top embarrassing yourself and take it like a man.
The Secret Plan
Because here is the dirty little secrets kids and gather around so the other Vets don’t know I let you in on the it. You are not being treated like crap because you are not a combat vet, you are being treated like crap because you are stupid boot. We were all boots once and now it’s just your turn. If you are a Marine tasked with mopping the parking lot in a pouring rainstorm, it’s not because you didn’t deploy. It’s because you are stupid freaking boot.
The fact that the Veteran has deployed is just another tool in his “torture the boot” utility belt. They know it’s not your fault your dad banged your mom when he did and instead of being in the fleet last year, you were at your senior prom. The truth is that if Bin Laden decided to take one more year to plan 9/11, I wouldn’t be a combat vet either.
They are just messing with you in order mold you into the next generation of warriors that knows how to adequately mess with the next generation of warriors that will follow you. So stop embarrassing yourself and just wait your turn. The world is a jacked up place right now and who knows, you might the one with the story of storming a Chinese occupied island in the Pacific and how cool would that be? If you get to go to Europe and fight a Russian, this Cold War kid is going to be soooo jealous. Wolverines!
If you are new to the military and there is one particular combat Veteran who is an extra special dick about the fact he deployed, the truth is that he was probably always going to be a dick to you. Pro tip: the biggest dick to you is probably the guy who didn’t do jack. Either that or he is just the one who seriously cares enough that you learn what you need to know. I couldn’t line 1,000 Marines with Combat Action Ribbons up and the stories would vary from I stormed the streets of Fallujah on one end and “I saw a mortar one time” on the other.
But as for the rest of the crew, they are just treating you like a stupid boot and that is a rite of passage. Don’t embarrass yourself by complaining about it because here is the thing. You should look up to the guys who have done it before. There is not a single boot Private complaining about Combat Patches or awards today who wouldn’t wear theirs in their sleep tomorrow if they got one. Wait your turn kids, and if it comes, it comes. If not, you still served honorably.
My brother was an active Marine Grunt in the late 90’s who gave me hell for the fact that I was a reservist grunt. Well, he never deployed, I did and Thanksgiving has been a lot more fun ever since. Be a man and wait your turn kids and listen to the guys you now loath. You might learn something. And just stop embarrassing yourself.
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