I am a veteran.
But please do NOT thank me for my service.
Because not all military service is the same.
I was a junior officer in the Air Force for just under four years. In the final days of my training, the armistice for the Vietnam War was signed and I spent most of my remaining time on a dusty air field in central California. Considering my job classification, I probably wouldn’t have gotten closer to the area of combat than Guam anyway.
Frankly, my service was of more personal benefit than it was to the country at large.
So, please find someone who actually deserves the “thanks for your service”. And the breakfast discount.
However, there are two better ways to show your appreciation to members of the military, past and present, on this Veterans Day. But they will require a whole lot more effort.
One is to demand that the government does everything possible to help the men and women who were in combat and suffered for it.
Spend the money necessary to care for every veteran who needs it. Don’t offer lip service. We certainly don’t need any more monuments. Pay to provide every resource necessary to help them recover and thrive.
Second, do something to avoid sending people to war in the first place.
This country has built a huge, bloated, overfunded military and the attitude that we must use it for almost every problem.
On the other side, we spend far, far less time and money on working with the rest of the world to peacefully resolve conflicts. Through more complicated processes like diplomacy and international aid.
If we flipped that equation, we would produce fewer veterans, and fewer still who are injured. We could then divert some of the large chunks of national resources that now go into developing new ways to kill people and put them towards building a better society.
I know, too simple. Too idealistic.
Just chalk this up to some random thoughts on yet another day on which we talk about honoring the troops, and do little else.
My nephew, on the right, being sworn into the Army following his graduation from West Point, deserves a whole lot more thanks than I do.