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It’s been about a year or so since I’ve published on this. It’s weird thinking about how much has changed within these past 365 days. But we can focus on that later. Right now, this about our veterans. Tomorrow is another Veteran’s Day. And with everything happening in the world lately, I figure it’s time to voice my opinion. Granted, this isn’t 100% relevant to the big controversial items, it’s something. (Disclaimer: I’m a little rusty. My thoughts are probably disorganized, and not as articulate as I would like. Give me time).

Veteran, in simple English, in this context, is one who has previously served in the military. Preferably one who has fought in a war, but not necessarily. Active duty, or reserve duty is for those who are still within the ranks. Just because you see someone in a uniform does not a veteran make. You can still thank them for their service. But they aren’t veterans. Apparently that is not clear for some people.

Just because someone is a veteran, does not mean that he or she even wanted to go to war. Maybe he/she just felt obligated to serve their country. Perhaps he felt pressured because his family is full of former military men. She wanted to prove to someone that she could make it. We don’t know peoples’ stories. We don’t know why someone joined the service. So please, do not speak against them. You can be anti-war but pro-people-who-care-about-our-country.

Just because someone is a veteran, does not mean that he or she went to war. Now luckily I’ve never encountered this, but friends who did go off somewhere, or who had families members fight, have told me of people. People who never stepped foot on enemy territory. People who lived a rather cushy life in the military. Definitely not all, but some, have claimed a lack of praise for their service. Essentially putting themselves on a pedestal, one that is usually reserved for those who risked their lives. Again, yes, thank you for your service. There was the potential for you to go somewhere. But you didn’t. I don’t want to invalidate your feelings, but don’t try to put yourself on the level as someone with PTSD or limited mobility. But still, thank you for your service.

And now a rough transition…

Speaking of PTSD…It is a real thing. I’m not psychologist, but I got a 3 on my AP Psych test, so it means I learned a few things. According to the DSM IV, or is it V now? Either way, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real, and unfortunately very alive. And veterans can and do have it. Not all, but enough, too many veterans have it. Along with that, way too many veterans have taken their lives. These brave men and women who have come back after seeing God knows what develop PTSD and don’t get the help they need. They don’t get the help and then they try to take the pain away. But it doesn’t go away. It’s like the law of conservation of energy. It cannot be destroyed, just transformed. So instead of the guy constantly thinking about his friend who jumped on the IED, thinking that it should have been him, it’s now his mom mourning after her only son. Rather than the girl crying over being assaulted numerous times, it’s her sister crying over the one person she looked up to, and the one person she trusted.

After the shootings in the States people want to talk about what we do for mental illness. But what about our veterans’ mental illness? Does that not deserve attention and research? Do we not owe it to them to make their transition back to civilian life as easy as possible? I feel like we can’t thank these women and men enough! But a good start would be to focus on their needs. And now you’re probably asking, “Well why don’t you start something?” If I had the means, I totally would. I’d start with the Aggie Network and see who could dedicate some extra time to offer sessions for veterans for a discount, if not completely free. I’d want to open places around the country for veterans to use as a safe place. I want them to know that when they go there, they won’t have to worry about hiding their pain. They wouldn’t have to worry about people who don’t understand where they’re coming from, or that they’ll be told to, “Get over it.” Open hearts and ears. Maybe they aren’t ready to talk about what the experienced. That’s okay. Maybe they can’t stop talking. That’s okay too. I just want them to know that someone is there for them. I want them to know that someone cares. And I want them to understand that it is normal to have whatever feelings they are going through…

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, Thank you for your service.

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