We have been asked to provide the Veteran’s Perspective on the topic of “stolen valor” … well, it is a diversion from the issue of Radical Islamic Terrorism and frankly a good way to help us all head into the Thanksgiving holiday on the proper note. Here goes …
Must Be a Sad Illness – To those of us who have served in combat and must deal with the “blessings” and the “burdens” that come with that service it is completely inconceivable that somebody would want to lie about having been to combat. We know firsthand that in reality there is no amount of respect or recognition that one gets from others that is worth the burdens that comes with that service. Those who served recognize that the value and appreciation for one’s service must actually come from within. So, those who feel the need to lie or deceive others in order to obtain some satisfaction or respect must be suffering from some serious emotional or mental problems.
Never Question Another Veteran’s Service – One thing all combat Veterans share is an appreciation that there is somebody else who had it worse, saw more, suffered more and/or is more deserving of recognition. There is a sense of humility that is a common bond amongst the survivors of combat. This humility comes from the basic premise that no Veteran gets to choose his battles – assignments can be as random as the trajectory of fast moving and exploding objects. One goes where he or she is told to go and does whatever needs to be done. If your fortunate enough to be back in the world after having seen violence and death, you know too well how there were others who had it worse. Particularly in the Post 9/11 military environment, one can no longer really know what an individual’s experience was just by knowing their unit or the military occupational skill.
Let Others Sort it Out – The image of some sick person pretending to be a warrior is an unpleasant one. Of course our initial impression is to kick the crap out of that person. But, it is not as unpleasant as the image of some old former warrior being challenged, threatened or criticized because he is wearing his uniform incorrectly. Just imagine the FUBAR — the one day that some old vet decides to go pay respects to his long lost friend after having not touched his medals or uniform in decades. In truth, this has happened – and it is extremely embarrassing to the Veteran community. So, from a Veteran’s Perspective it is preferable that the civilian community deals with these ill impostors. And, that it does so harshly! But, the thought of ordinary Veterans’ getting into the daily business of questioning other Veterans is more disturbing than the sad sole who attempts to steal valor.
True Valor Can Never Be Stolen – From the Veteran’s Perspective, of course we recognize that damage that is done when imposters attempt to benefit from the virtues and sacrifices of others. But, the one thing we as Veterans’ understand better than anybody is that nobody can ever take away from us the things that we know that we did. The valor we witnessed in our brothers and sisters can never be “stolen.”
Every Day is Thanksgiving Day – So, as we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday, we ask that you remember and be thankful for the fact that we have fine men and women willing to step forward and answer the call in this very dangerous and difficult time. Meanwhile, from the Veteran’s Perspective, we will forever be thankful to our brother and sister veterans who have suffered and sacrificed more so we can enjoy this holiday with our loved ones. Our thoughts will always be with them and their families.
Happy Thanksgiving from The Veteran’s Perspective!!