Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Veteran Status

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know the great respect I hold for military veterans. I'm proud to have served 6 years in the Marine Corps. My dad served 4 years in the Marines, 2 of that in the Pacific during WWII. My uncle landed at Normandy, and was WIA in France. Another served in France and Belgium during WWII. Veterans are a special crowd.

But I've had it with the drunks, bums, slackers, and assorted dirtbags who use veteran status - real or imagined - as a shield against responsible living, or as an advertising campaign for a handout. Here are some examples I've run across while working the street:

Transient drunk on a street corner, holding up a cardboard sign that reads: VETERAN. ANY HELP APPRECIATED. OK, let me see what I can do for this guy. I can get you in the local homeless shelter with no problem. No? OK. The VA Hospital is about a mile from here; I'll give you a ride. No? OK. There are two day labor outfits a block from here, too. I'll show you where they are and help you get signed up. No? I didn't think so.

Drunk wearing a USMC Vet ballcap, hassling people for money in the ER waiting room. With three quick questions, I determine he knows less than my dog does about the USMC. Get out and don't come back, or you're going to jail. Oh, and lose the hat until you brush up on the basic info any real USMC vet would know.

Guy bitches me out because he's a vet on his way the the VA Hospital, and I dare to pull him over for going 20 over the limit in an active school zone. He repeatedly reminds me he's a VETERAN and going to the VA HOSPITAL, then gets mad that I would cite a VETERAN, who's on his way to the VA HOSPITAL. So, which is it: you think vets should be exempt from obeying traffic laws, or vets should be allowed to run down kids in a crosswalk?

I stop a guy with a suspended driver's license. This is a criminal traffic offense. But he's in the Army and has been overseas and doesn't deserve to be cited, and he actually tells me so just like that. Seriously, you think your military status exempts you from having to have a freakin' valid driver's license?

Being a veteran is an earned privilege. At least it is for me and my family. But I believe it entitles me to exactly nothing other than bragging rights. Rather, it places on me the onus of displaying my veteran status in a respectable way, and not shaming it. I consider myself the legacy of all those Marines who went before me, and an example for all those who came later. I understand that many people don't leave the military in one piece, and need medical, emotional, and psychological support. I've been there. I'm glad facilities exist to help those people, and I encourage anyone who needs them to take full advantage of them. And if the VA is really in such poor shape that vets are dying while waiting for treatment, that's inexcusable and needs to be fixed immediately.

But veteran status is not a free ride. It's not an advertising slogan for a handout. It's not an excuse for committing a crime, or a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. It's a responsibility.


Anonymous said...

I've been pulled over several times by police officers for various traffic violations; some I thought were bogus, others were justified. I never thought that being a veteran entitled me to any special treatment.

The one time I was stopped while in the service, I was running an errand for my unit; a piece was being repaired at a local machine shop, an F4 Phantom was waiting for it, and my NCO told me to hurry. The cop had dispatch call said NCO, then told me to take off. License to speed!

Bill Mauldin, of Willy and Joe fame, wrote about the "professional veterans" in his memoir Back Home, soon after the end of WWII. He believed that he was a citizen, first and foremost.

What I also don't like are the groups that solicit for funds at a lot of gun shows; groups that either are not rated by Charity Navigator or badly rated.
I went to one large show in PA a few years back, and there were 6 different groups looking for donations. I looked them up, and none of them had more than a 2 star rating. I'll put in a 5 spot if DAV shows up, but not the others unless I know that they are well regarded.

Renee said...

When I was in college marching band, our "initiation" rite of passage included a very serious campus tour in which we received a lot of historical information, told heartwarming stories about our predecessors, and were made to memorize the theme "remember who you are and what you represent." Which I think is a phrase adapted from the military? Anyway the idea was that as a band member we were supposed to act right, especially when in uniform, and not give the band a bad name. It left a strong impression on me. I wish more people were taught such lessons even if they weren't in band, or the military, or boy scouts, or whatever.

Don said...

Thanks for your service

My 6 years in the US Navy were some of the best of my life.

Fake veterans tick me right off

jbt369 said...

I was booking this guy into jail, and he kept ranting on about how he has served in Vietnam and should have special treatment, or something. We had him in a restraint chair (which was always reserved for the special among us) in a detox cell, and he kept yelling about how he was a vet.

I told him, "You were never in Vietnam."

He screamed about how he was. I said, "I know you didn't go, because we're the same age (some might say I said "We're the same age, asshole") and I was too young to go."

Quiet for the rest of the night.

charles said...

Never served myself; but, knowing a few guys who did and what they went through (they were all combat vets), I have a LOT of respect for them.

Especially since everyone of them that I know are upstanding citizens who don't use their military/combat experience as an excuse.

Several years ago, though, I did have a co-worker - a total slacker - who always used his "veteran status" as an excuse. It turns out he was a veteran; but, he only served stateside and never saw any combat. Now, I have no problem with calling him a loser.

fallconsmate said...

not a veteran...but my father and brother are.

and so is the sister of my heart and her husband. both her sons are disabled veterans.

bless all who have served, and the jackasses you describe can kiss a donkey's hindquarters.