Friday, October 21, 2011

What is a veteran?

I remember going to a recent family function a few years ago in Ohio. I was there with my uncle and he is probably the biggest fan of my military service. He was introducing me to some people we didn't know. He said to one couple, "This is my nephew and he is a vet!" The man asked my uncle, "Oh that's great! What is his specialty? Dogs or Cats?" We nearly rolled on the floor laughing at this. I couldn't tell if the guy was being serious in his question or not. My Uncle recovered and finally said, "He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan."

So this brings me to the question of this blog post today. What is a veteran? I will give you my answer but your answers to the question might differ.

An American veteran is a man or a woman that served in the Armed Forces. This person could have been a Navy SEAL, an airplane mechanic, a cook, a sailor that cleans a ship all day, and accounting clerk in the army. These are all examples of veterans.

A veteran may have gone to war. The war experience is different for all veterans. A veteran may have kicked down doors in Iraq and may have search buildings room to room for the enemy. A veteran may have killed many enemy troops during a war but may not ever talk about it. Likewise, a veteran may have gone to battle, with rifle in hand and eyes wide open, only to find that there was no fight, that the enemy surrendered, or that the enemy was no where to be found. A veteran may have provided medical care to wounded troops, or may have typed on a computer during a war instead of pulling a trigger.

Despite what the veteran did, no matter what the job, they participated in actions that led towards a mission being accomplished. The cook, the mechanic and the truck driver were all heros of war. Even if these people never fired a weapon at the enemy, they are still heros worthy of respect. Without that cook, mechanic or driver the mission cannot be accomplished as they are all elements of a big team.

Some veterans come home injured from war or training. These are called "disabled veterans." A disabled veteran is a person that was injured and that injury was connected to their military service. They are also called "service connected disabled veterans" by Veteran's Affairs. The injuries of the disabled veteran may be visible and obvious. They might be limbless, confined to wheelchair for life. Some may appear normal and healthy but emotionally they are broken and lifeless.

No matter what of veteran you may meet in your day to day activities, they should be sincerely thanked for sacrificing their body, mind and spirit to keep us Americans safe. Whether or not you agree with the current wars, you should still be thankful of the sacrifice of veterans. Consider this quote in closing:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

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