by KEVIN KNODELL
They were talking about my friend, an Iraq War veteran who was wounded in the line of duty. They were talking about how they feel that he over-shares, and how they don’t want to hear about his “Army stories about getting shot.” I tried with limited success to explain that to some, getting shot is a significant life event, and for America’s warrior class, a very real one that has life long consequences.
As are Improvised Explosive Devices, one of the reasons that anyone who’s been in a car with a recent veteran will tell you that they HATE speed bumps. I tried to explain that while hearing about it is unpleasant, experiencing it was probably about a thousand times worse. I also tried to impart that though they know some of his experiences, there are a hundred more that he’d never dream of telling them. I know this because he told me some of these stories, and I know there’s more where they came from.
It’s been said more than once that there is a civil-military divide in this country. The establishment of our all volunteer military has resulted in one of the most professional and motivated military forces in recent history. However, the military, and those who serve, are more isolated from their fellow Americans than they’ve ever been. During the Vietnam War the draft made the conflict real to American families, but today’s wars are fought by professionals who are often removed from American society at large.
The average American is able to comfortably watch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with the knowledge that their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives will most likely not be affected. However, whether their neighbors appreciate it or not, the burdens borne by our warrior class and their families are very real.
America loves to support its troops. It says so on the bumper stickers. But what does it really mean to support our troops? This Veterans Day, I’m asking you to care. Please try to care about the fact that thousands of young men and women are deployed on your behalf. Please try to care that many of them will not return, and many who do return will be changed forever.
It doesn’t take a lot. If you know a veteran, thank them, treat them to lunch, do something. If not, just take a moment out of your day to think about it for just a second. But please, try to care.