Unprecedented Mediocrity

I guess to be specific, I ought to have modified the title to say quit acting like a caricature of a Veteran.  Not too long ago, I was out at a fair with my family when I noticed a group of young Veterans out and about.  You could tell they were Veterans by what they wore, the conversation they were having, and how they conducted themselves in public and I thought to myself, “My God I want to be nothing like them.”  Now, perhaps much of it had to do with age as Iraq for me was 13 years ago and these guys could likely still shake the sand out of their pokemon underoos.  But if I were to peruse the Veteran community, much of which exists online, it’s actually those young Vets that fit the mold and not myself.  And thus I pondered, is there a point where Veterans need to quit acting like a caricature of themselves.

Entertain not Emulate

This is actually not a critique of the online Veteran community as I love them all, even the ones that advance the narrative of the caricatured Veteran.  For me and many Veterans, it is entertainment to muse about days long gone with my fellow Vets.  I find a certain joy in tackling modern topics from the viewpoint of a Veteran and I believe the encouragement one can receive online from the Veteran community is extremely helpful.  Even the caricature of the facial haired, whisky drinking, gun slinging, rootin tootin Veteran looking for an ISIS bunny to slay is fun to play with as there are indeed truths about us mixed in.  It is supposed to be fun and the best Vet communities get that right.


But if I were to emulate what a large portion of the online community tells me a Veteran should be I don’t know that my life would actually advance much beyond my early 20’s.  And for a guy pushing 40, that’s a sadder sight to see as each year goes by.  Unfortunately, I think that is what many of our Veteran brothers have in fact done. Rather than reminisce they recreate and rather than entertain they emulate only to miss out on what could very well be the best season of their life.  In pursuit of a shadow of a war they will never again see, they miss out on the substance right before them.  Fellow GWOT Vets, we are not getting any younger and they are not making anymore of us.

Be Excellent Not a Veteran

If a Veteran decided to start a milkshake company called, oh I don’t know, “Military Milkshake Men” and they try to sell me one I will probably make a purchase to give a Veteran a shot.  There is nothing wrong with helping out your fellow Veteran by giving them an opportunity to prove their excellence.  Civilians do it all the time to get ahead be it their frat buddies or daddy’s business partners and they were often doing so while many of us were at war.  Veterans should do that for one another and if you have a Vet business, feel free to link it up in the comments.


But if I take a drink of that milkshake and it taste like an Omelet MRE mated with a Beef Frankfurter MRE I’m going to spit that junk right out in your Veteran face.  Because as a Veteran, I was giving you the opportunity to be excellent and either your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, or it does not.  Darn right, it’s not better than mine, don’t teach me, and I will not pay if you charge.

Our status as Veterans is meant to amplify, propel, and make a strategic bet on our ability to be excellent based off of our hard earned experiences. It is not meant to gift excellence to us on a platter.  The world views Veterans as one class of people and there is some benefit to operating as group.  But if you are a Veteran yourself, you know better.  You know good and well there are some men who you would go to combat with that you wouldn’t dare start a business with.  You know good and well, that there are some war buddies who you would trust with your life, but not the petty cash.  The title Veteran is a call to excellence, not charity and making the two words synonymous is less than helpful.  These guys figured it out and I am sure we can too.

American paratrooper, among the first to make successful landings on the continent, holds a Nazi flag captured in a village assault. Utah Beach, St. Marcouf, France. 8 June 1944

A Call to Excellence

It is true that many of our Veteran’s need a hand, counseling, and the effort of us Veterans who may not need as much.  So I don’t besmirch Veteran charities any more than I besmirch online Veteran communities.  But I have said before and I believe it after 13 years working in the mental health field, if you call a Dog a name long enough he starts to answer to it.  If you keep saying Veterans are broken men in need of charity to survive, some will start to believe it who might not need it otherwise. If you keep telling Veterans they are supposed to walk around the fair praying and wishing ISIS would attack so they could kill some terrorists, they just might walk around a fair in Washington State wishing ISIS would attack the same fair my children are attending.

But what if we changed the narrative to remind Veterans of their capacity for excellence? What if we spent more time talking about the success stories of Veterans who pulled through the pain and learned from it?  What if we handed out small business loans for Veteran excellence like StreetShares is doing rather than handing out “fireworks go boom make Veteran sad” signs.  What if you just reminded your buddy in his 40’s stuck in the past that he is not 20 anymore and a future without precedent awaits him?  What if we made it our goal to be so excellent at this season of life, that people had no idea we ever went to war because our success today eclipses the body count of the past.


Look, I believe Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite when he says would take State if he went back in time.  Looks like he has a good arm, so why not.  But he can’t and his inability to move forward makes him a sad caricature and nothing more. I am not of the belief that any single caricature captures the diversity of the Veteran community, but if to be a Veteran you find yourself trying to recreate that past rather than reminisce about its joys and move forward, then perhaps it is time you quit acting like a Veteran.  I’m as guilty as any for hanging on too long and I’ll confess that to you all.  But let us all move forward together now shall we, into a future without precedent based on our current excellence rather than a past long gone by.

If You Believe Veterans are Capable of Excellence Because They are Indeed Excellent, Join the Community and Like the Unprecedented Mediocrity Facebook Page Below.

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61 Replies to “Perhaps It is Time for Us GWOT Veterans to Quit Acting Like Veterans”

  1. Very interesting. Lots of good thoughts in this article. As a veteran myself I understand the concept that eventually as a veteran you want to assimilate back into society and get to a point in time where maybe people don’t even think you are a veteran. My service was a long time ago, and it almost seems like another person, another life time. I guess I took a page from my grandfather’s generation more commonly known as the greatest generation. When he died we weren’t even certain that he was a veteran until we went through his stuff and it turned out he was a bronze star winner from the Battle of the Bulge. But we just knew him as Grandpa.

    1. You and your grandfather are great people, but you might want to use another word besides “winner” its not a competition its an award given usually for something incredibly selfless

    2. I know it’s kind of a long shot but do you know your grandfather’s devision? My grandfather was in the 10th armor devision and went to the battle of the bulge as well. A few years ago our family came across another vet who served with my grandfather. He saved a lot of his stuff and allowed us to make copies of his collection. In that collection was a squadron picture they took just before they went in to the bulge. We were able to pick out our grandfather in the picture just from facial recognition. Thought if they were in the same group maybe you would appreciate the picture as much as we do is all. All of the collection was put in the Texas Tech WW2 museum for others to enjoy as well. Message me on facebook if you would like further info.

  2. I enjoyed the read…I’ve been out four years now. I don’t tell anyone I’m a vet, I don’t feel any need for something more just because I wore a uniform for ten years. That said, I’m comfortable admitting I would go back tomorrow and greatly miss the good times. clearly, there was at least one bad day when I decided to leave. More to the point, I agree we should come together as a community and support each other, but leave the caricature at home.

    1. Be proud of being a Vet. Telling people you’ve served does not indicate your looking for charity. It shows that you have pride in the selfless service you provided to your country. You may just inspire the next generation to greatness.

      1. “Pride” and “selfless service” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence.

        1. You’re confusing “selfless” with “humble.” Selfless and pride are not mutually exclusive terms.

  3. You got it right man. I’ve been called out a couple of times by people for not fitting the “mold” of what a veteran is. I do have a beard, but I don’t walk around waving a flag everywhere I go, I don’t act like I’m competing with everyone else for biggest badass, and I actually think that people can get along without screaming in each others faces without bringing out the “well, I didn’t got to [insert campaign here] to put up with [insert petty grievance here].

    My dad did two tours in Vietnam, under worse conditions than I ever did. He did his job, shouldered his responsibilities, and lived his life without advertising the fact that he was a vet. He didn’t care that anyone else knew, because it wasn’t what his life was about.

  4. Great story. I really think about this a lot too. I hear a lot of my friends pull the “I’m a vet!” card a lot. And it’s not to take away any of our accomplishments on what we have done while serving. My thoughts are, “Why should that be my greatest accomplishment? ” granted, I’m a bit older than my friends the accomplishments that are made in the civilian world are much harder to attain them they were while on active duty. I just really feel that , The people that use that to define them is really limiting themselves greatly. I see a lot of buddies buying that I feel are a lot smarter than me but don’t seem to get over that hump. I’m sure there’s a lot of factors that play into this, but just like the military life is even more cruel and does not owe us anything.

  5. Interesting read, brother. Thought provoking and insightful. I too am at that stage, although I’m a little longer in the tooth and from a previous war. Regardless, I can still hear your message. As a fellow writer, I am trying to show how digging deep into the past by using words to tell the story has changed my attitude and life. You said I can plug it here so I will take you at your word. Operation Single Daddy (1,2 & 3) available on Amazon Kindle. Keep doing what your doing! To us… and those like us.

    – TwistedMedic aka Rich Landry

    1. Glad you “plugged” your books! I too am a writer (and probably much longer in the tooth than you); I will look forward to reading your work!
      Dave Hall (U.S. Army 1974-1997 and 2008-2013)

  6. Depends on how you see Vets. There have always been “those guys”. But wen i think of a Vet I think of someone who gets things done efficiently, who works through difficulty, who is comfortable with themselves and others that things like “microaggression” is a joke. They have worked in a multi-cultural environment t succcessfully and aren’t fixated on things like color and gender. They are more interested i what you can do. And they are very pragmatic. The Army molded me into the man I am. What i do with that is what counts. I don’t hide my Veteran status but its a big part of who I and m friends are. And, most important, i trust my fellow Vets. I would like to see more of us in charge because, honestly, we’re the only ones who know how to do it right. Don’t judge based on a couple.of assholes.


  7. Nailed it. Your service should be your ace up your sleeve — something that comes up organically, if at all. Not your starting point for single every conversation or interaction. Otherwise you’re only putting yourself inside one very small and rigid box.

  8. Excellent read Jeff. I left the Marines in 1965 and never brought up the fact that I was a veteran unless specifically asked. When asked I didn’t dwell on the conversation. Now days I’ve gotten where I don’t really give a damn. I know what I done or didn’t do and that’s what counts in my mind.
    Semper Fi

  9. Great read,
    Left the 101st in 2004 and moved back to California. Earned a degree in mechanical engineering and a license to practice mechanical engineering in California.
    Started a small engineering firm and hoping to grow that business.
    If anyone need mechanical engineering work like HVAC, plumbing, fire protection. My veteran owned business is available.
    Contact me at spengineeringllc@gmail.com

  10. I wrote my Bio last night and as I read the amazing things I have done in my life I realized I forgot to put down my military service and all my Awards and medals I received. It made it even more amazing of a read. My advice is to continue serving. My whole life has been about serving and that has given even more meaning to who I am as a person.

  11. You can go on with life or you can top out in the military and only think about “the good old days”, take your pick. So far, it seems that 4/5 move on with 1 still clinging to it.

  12. I believe we should express and be proud to be Veterans. It clearly gives a general overview of the person you are dealing with, as soon as you know a person is a Veteran; especially, if they are part of the special operations community. It’s like knowing someone graduated from Harvard or Yell or was employed by Apple or Google.

    Yes, there is a time and place for all things but never stop being proud of being a Veteran or calling yourself a Veteran.

    It helps our young adults to see why you conduct yourself in the manner you do and why you handle situations so great. Which helps promote them to serve also.

    The Veteran’s status should speak highly of who you are; your conduct, your work effort, your drive, your honesty, and your loyalty, etc.; when you are given that first opportunity to perform it should show that you are a Veteran.

    Represent the title Veteran well; give the name meaning, be a Veteran. So when a civilian hear you say Veteran they get excited about the quality of person being employed into their company or the company you are leading. I am proud to call myself a Veteran, and also the Founder and President of The Genuine Life Institute, Coaching and Motivational Speaking.

    As a Veteran, we give the name it’s worth – not it gives us our worth – Wear It With Value.

    1. Well said. There is no need to open with the statement “I am a veteran.” But being proud of this fact inspires younger generations.

  13. I spent 36 years in the Army and I must say I thought the article was mostly full of useless cliche and jibberish.

    1. Did you read this article? All of us Veterans are not classy right-wing gentlemen like yourself. Some do happens to have different political opinions, which I’m pretty sure we earned.

  14. When I was active duty, the only thing that gave me away was my haircut. After I got out, that’s when I realized its cool to be moto. I got off AD in ’06, grew a beard, went to college. I wore 1 or 2 USMC shirts on occasion, but now there are a bunch of online veteran owned businesses selling war themed T-shirts and some are pretty hardcore. It’s become easier to get caught up in the entitled mentality. Veterans are entitled to the benefits they earn, VA healthcare and disability compensation, GI Bill, VA home loan, a free funeral…With all the benefits of being a veteran coupled with businesses marketing toward and selling merchandise to veterans, it’s easy for a young vet to be an immature asshole in his Iraq/Afghanistan T-shirt. I also think that the more veterans you get together, the more stupid you all get. Yep, that’s it, stupider in numbers and we all wear veteran clothes out, duh.

  15. I think the title was poorly chosen. Otherwise, not a bad write up at all. I believe a big hindrance for veterans is hanging on to how awesome they might have been in the service and not learning to thrive outside of that environment. The real world isn’t about “shoot, move, communicate”, and that’s hard for some of us to get used to. It definitely takes quite awhile to decompress from the military and some of us need a slap in the face to be reminded that our time was a SERVICE and we should not behave like elitist know-it-alls.

  16. Good article. I separated yesterday, and it’s my goal that nobody who meets me today will think I’m a veteran. That stage of life is past, and it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.

  17. Excellent read! I was likely at the same Washington State Fair you spoke of and likely observed the same type of groups. Good on you for putting a voice to it.

    1. Are you an asshole? Using POG I would say definitely yes. And before you even try field artillery is the king of battle and “grunt” or infantry is the queen. Anything you have to say now, bitch?

  18. Good read! I have typically remained clean shaven since I’ve left the Corps in 2006, but have bitten the bullet this past Movember and am still rocking the veteran beard. But that’s because the lady likes it… I would like to take the opportunity to use this comments section to advocate on behalf of the soon to be Vets. I found out about a program called zero8hundred, it’s only a year old, but I jumped on board and am now a lead navigator (life coach per say) for these mostly young guys and gals that are discharging. We are San Diego based and have access to the Naval bases, Miramar, and Pendleton. I’ll get to the point. It seems that we all agree that we assist and support our own. Kind of like why we buy Craftsman tools. But, sometimes it’s hard to find that helping hand when these service members transition out. I would like to play the middle man between our Veterans in process and the “real” jobs out there. So if any of you are looking for help, I am your direct link to the talent pool of the future. I’m sick of these job fairs with Aflac, Farmers Insurance, low wage security firms, solar specialists, bla bla, and all of the “veteran friendly schools” that steal time and the GI Bill from these young service members, sometimes even leaving them with student loans with no real education to show for. So if you want to help some of these young folks out, please send me your job descriptions and information. BBorders@zero8hundred.org My name is Bobby Borders. Sgt, United States Marine.

    Semper Fidelis

  19. Good article. Since I got out of the Army I have done quite a bit of volunteer work at our local Veterans groups (VFW, Legion) and rarely speak of my time in the service. I go out of my way to ensure the older veterans know that there are younger vets like myself that are making a difference in our community. On an unrelated note I patented a product a few years ago and sell it online and use some of the proceeds to help out our local veterans groups. Check out the product and pass it on if you can…every order helps…. http://www.kayrank.com

  20. I’m proud of our vets and accept your challenge for excellence, Military Leadership Methods http://www.mlmethods.com We use the military lessons in leadership and help business grow. I believe that if you peaked when you hung up your uniform you’ve missed the point. Get out there and start something, use your honed skills from the military and apply them to making your home, community business or the nation better.

  21. Being a Veteran does NOT mean that you have “earned something” by serving. What us Veteran’s have done is help do our part at keeping our Country FREE. Having spent 31 years in the Army, I did what it took to get the job done. I entered as a Private E1, and will soon retire as a Sergeant First Class E7. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE gave me something I didn’t earn. The 10 service stripes on my left arm I EARNED- the 19 awards on my chest above my heart- I earned. ( OK- we all get the Service Ribbon) When my name came up on the deployment list TWICE, I didn’t find an excuse to get out of it- I went. ’03-’04 and ’10-’11 Each time it was different, but it was still the call to duty I swore to in the Oath to defend my Country against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. We all have the stories about the fellow Soldiers who did what they could to not have to deploy. The character of today’s Soldier is what assisted me in my decision to retire- when I came in, you knew how to respect those who outranked you, and you feared your NCO. Nowadays, leaders are overpaid babysitters. Many Soldiers over the past 10 years whine, complain, ask “Why” or just refuse to get the job done. Try those antics at a civilian job when you are out of the military- I would think you’ll be out of a job the second time you try it- or at least I would hope you would be. My entire career I heard all those talks about those in the military being the 1% who would serve- well it is time for the other 99% to recognize us, the 1% who did sacrifice to protect them. Having been home two short weeks, I see that MANY are unappreciative of what us Veterans gave up to do what we did. I have come up with a response, and would hope other Veterans follow suit. My response to the carelessness and cautious support of Veterans from ALL branches is “And to think I gave 30 years defending people like you”. My future is NOT dependent on any person or any handouts- rather it is dependent on ME, just like my career was. I got to this point on hard work and determination, and I know what to work on now that I am back into civilian life. The title of “Veteran” will NOT be taken for granted, and I will NOT be looked down on. I gave my time, did my job, and helped keep our Country free. I WILL be respected for that- I don’t want any handouts, but when you are at a parade or function that honors my flag, the flag I was willing to die for, you WILL stand up, you WILL remove your headgear, for MANY of my comrades gave their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend that flag- they will NOT be disrespected! And if it takes too much time to stand up or remove your cap, obviously it is time for you to find somewhere else to call home- for you NO LONGER deserve to be called an American!!!!

    1. Is your comment in response to Jeff Edwards? If so, I think that you may have missed the point of his article.

  22. great piece. at times itvis hard to be excellent when you have certain vets betraying and backstabbing vets to get ahead and dominate a narrative of “veteran-ness” at the cost of other vets. we also live in a society where a non-vet has no shame in conning another vet like many of those used car dealers outside of camp lejeune or ft. bragg. so, i salute you for all who are excellent. And, share with the world how you truly arrived. i appreciate this article and i appreciate the major book about audie murphy. the book has audie engage his battle with reintegration while really making an excellent presence to society. Audie Murphy speeches can be found on youtube and his humility speaks volumes. takeaway: heroic acts are more an issue of considering the imperative and less on excellence. my fear of excellence is aligned with the words positive and negative to define states of being. imperative , the word, is linked the german german philosopher kant. kant claimed that virtuous or excellent acts are tied to reasoning through a challenge without focusing on benefit. maybe this can be a transformative learning experience that would truly enhance the vet community. Disclaimer: I am exercising my 1st Amendment properly. Don’t tred on me for my opinions. We live in America and have rights via our humanity and constitution.

  23. You are one whiney ass bitch. You need to man the fuck up and get rid of the liberal ass college professors ideals. I love being a vet. Because 99.9% of the American populace doesn’t have the balls to volunteer. If the civilian population would join. We would have less problems in America. Fuck you and your stupid as pretentious article. Eat a at Dick.

    1. wow, a bit angry are we and why all the references to fucking and eating dicks? Makes ya wonder

      Seriously there is no need for you to hammer him like that for expressing his opinion and you do not have to agree but be mature enough to explain why you feel as you do! My question is why are you taking it so personally?

  24. I separated for medical reasons but never stopped me. I use my go to and give me more attitude to display the work ethic I learned while I served. I use my army badge reel to remind me of who I am and what I did. Your article does display the issue young veterans are displaying. Let’s act like what we are, leaders.

  25. A lot of veteran specially non grunt button pushers use stolen valor and live the ingantry veteran life style after active duty because they don’t have the balls to be as anything other than a caricature of what they never once were.

    These are the ones who won’t try to start a new chapter and turn the page..they beg for attention. Like when the wear unauthorized military combat issued tgey should of turned in. out public. Bunch of annoying jack asses make all of US real combat Vets.Look like whinny bitches.

    USMC 0341 2000-2008.. Not 2016. Like many who try to ride that coolness train even after huge fatbelly pig unsat bodies.

  26. A very good read.

    “The Path to Excellence” should be the rallying call of the veteran community everywhere. The stigma of veteran=moocher or veteran=PTSD or veteran=political pawn is not something to be proud of. Quite frankly that stigma is only perpetuated by a small percentage of the community that milk it, parade it, and make sure everyone within a 30 foot radius knows they’re special because they were a veteran and shame the community as a whole. Yes. I said shame because it’s shameful.

    Not to toot on the ol’ “America’s military is the best at everything and anything” horn, but we kinda are and we still have the ability to be the best within us. You want the best damn couch ever made? BAM! A veteran makes those. You want the best damn accountant in the history of ever? BAM! Here he is and guess what… that’s right… he’s a veteran. You want a hard worker that will be your best damn assembler on the line? BAM! Veteran.

    It’s true you have to start over from scratch after the military and build a completely new you. I was just talking to one of my former NCO’s. She’s finally retiring and she let me know that she’s scared. A single mom with two kids to take care of and she doesn’t know what to do. I told her the truth. It’s gonna be tough and you have to let the person you were, die. Yeah you can look back, reminisce, but don’t let that ghost hold you back from the new you. You find a direction and put your nose to the grinding stone and get to the person that you need and want to be.

    As veterans, we are behind the curve when it comes to being older and starting out on a new career path, but we make up for that with our ability to, I hate to say it, adapt and overcome. (Thank you basic training drill sergeants.) Our skills may not even be the assigned task, but it’s the WAY we complete the task successfully and 200% BETTER than anybody else that make us excellent.

    For example, my job would be to help people fill out auto insurance claim forms after car accidents (heaven forbid). Obviously every single person I’ll talk to that day will not be in the best mood or state of mind, but that’s my job and I like it and I’m gonna be the best damn insurance claims adjuster this company has ever seen. So, I pull from my military experience of working in the Camp Casey night shift ER of stitching back together belligerent, drunken infantrymen that have sliced arms, faces, and hands (happened way more than it really should have). Talking those soldiers down from a combative state to letting me help them and at the end apologizing to me for being an ass and thanking me for helping them after they tried to stab me with a pen. Needless to say… I got skills. May not be filling out paperwork, but I got patience and understanding that would put Mother Teresa to shame.

    This has turned into a novel, but that’s my take.

  27. As usual, Don, your insights and thoughtful approach are dead on. As a part of two very separate and distinct “veterans communities” (1970s Cold War and OIF/OEF), I’ve seen a marked difference between these generations. We “Cold Warriors” tended to be quieter about our service, perhaps in part because most of us didn’t go to war. Now, after deploying in my mid-50s, I can understand the pride and sense of accomplishment the Post 9-11 veterans rightly feel. But I also grew up with my Dad, uncles, and their friends surviving WW2 and not making a big deal about it.
    By the way, Don, if you are still in the JBLM neighborhood, I’d love to buy you a beer sometime and chat…even at The Fair.

    1. Further confirming my geezer credentials, I thought this post was written by Don Gomez Jr. My apologies, Mr. Edwards, though my positive comments remain the same! (as does the offer to buy you a beer or two!)

  28. Well Jeff, you struck a nerve with this one. Some of these guys take life way to seriously. I’m pushing 50 now with a new grandson. In some ways we will always be sort of stuck in that time and I guess that’s okay. Our experiences then and the instincts we acquired are priceless and have made us stronger. My grandfathers served in the pacific and all my life I heard stories about “Japs”. Both were successful, Christian men, my heroes, and best buddies. Neither liked fireworks, and neither had a tolerance for bullshit. They knew the value of life and were determined that their kids would have better. Not to different from us. My grandfathers also had trouble sleeping sometimes. Like us they didn’t ask for war but they stepped up when the time came. I don’t believe the Corps or the war made any of us what we are today. We brought that all with us. How many days go by that you don’t think about that place or 2d Plt?

  29. I thought this was a great article. It’s been a bit more difficult to acclimate to “post-veteran” life I guess you could call it, because I still work for the Army. And I’m starting my own consulting firm for small and veteran owned businesses to get to the right places for innovative, new tech that could help our warfighters now and in the future. In the past, I was a young Ranger invading Afghanistan, then an Officer leading men into combat. Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines were interesting places to be. But, the former me was the foundation for this me that wants to offer the opportunity for excellence to my brothers and sisters and help those who are still in Uniform.

    I think we hold what we’ve got and it makes us who we are and as long as we aren’t stuck, we drive on to the Ranger objective and win.

    PS, yeah I know, shameless plugs are scattered throughout, but you make some great salient points.

  30. I left the Army when I was 27 and had to start all over. Tabs, medals, deployments, none of that stuff matters applying for competitive academics and jobs in the civilian world. But having those in my toolkit gave me perspective and an edge that I would not trade. The version of me from Afghanistan and Iraq is a ghost. I’m a doctor now and I see guys at the VA hospitals holding on to something. They can’t move on and are living in 2 worlds.

    The infantrymen say about battle drill 6: “Make a decision and get out of the doorway.” I’ll always be proud of that phase of life, but it was only the beginning. There’s a time and place for everything.


  31. I whole-heartedly disagree with a lot of the comments on here. And I don’t care if anyone likes it or not. I have a beard, I wear a camouflaged cap, I wear unit and military shirts, have a Marine Corps flag hanging in my office, and proudly tell people I’m a Veteran. I’ll discuss it with anyone. I also stand proud and strong to defend my views, morals, and beliefs, and if somebody finds me abrasive…I couldn’t care less. I don’t ask for anything from anyone. I don’t go to the VA because they suck. And I’ve never taken a handout, asked for financial assistance, or cried whoa is me just because I served. That being said, serving my country is the greatest thing I had done in my life for a very long time, and I damn sure show my pride behind it. And there’s not a thing wrong with it. I don’t fight people because they may dislike my views, but I’ll definitely destroy someone if they do something out of line. I was a scared, misguided teenager that the Corps turned into a warrior. And just because I don’t have a war to fight, I can’t just turn off what I am. I am still ready to fight for this country, still willing to give my life in her protection, and can still “tango” with the best of them. Reverting back to civilian life almost killed me because I was so lost. But I made it through, and I thoroughly enjoy meeting other Vets in society and at the bar and talking about the good ole days. I do no evil, but I’ll damn well step up to it and set it straight. And if me and a few other Veterans carry on conversations about it in public, and are all dressed similarly looking like a fire team, ready to engage targets…there isn’t a damn thing wrong with it. Society doesn’t have to worry about me and those like me. We aren’t the bad guys. Try telling that to the hoody wearing, sagging pants assholes. I’m less of a threat to anyone, but I’m definitely more dangerous. And in the meantime, I’m a good, focused member of society. An “operator” cap and a beard don’t mean a thing.

  32. Not a bad article, but this sentence stood out (its included in the Facebook link blurb as well):

    Fellow GWOT Vets, we are not getting any younger and they are not making anymore of us.

    Don’t want to be a stickler, but just because it isn’t called GWOT anymore doesn’t mean it isn’t still going on. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still generating plenty of new veterans 13 years after you got out. (Admittedly, in smaller numbers due to budget cuts though.)

    I’ve got no issue with the young soldiers who get out and want to be cool for a bit back at home, but its annoying to see guys who were in for 3-4 years using their service to get freebies and preferences a decade or more. Might as well be a Seal and go write your book/movie at that point.

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