Veterans are not Disposable
What’s your opinion of US veterans – are they patriots that deserve respect, or a disposable resource?
It may surprise you, but some people believe veterans are just men that had few life choices and only joined the military because they couldn’t hack it in college. It’s true - some people feel that way.
I never wanted to believe that any of my fellow Americans really believed that, but one day I heard a female friend casually verbalize this sentiment in a college classroom. I’ll give the backstory on this shortly, but let me say this first – veterans are not disposable.
We’re not a resource that you can throw away after we’ve been injured fighting wars on your behalf.
Civilians and military members have a social contract. We will lay it all on the line for you and your family’s benefit, and you will do everything you can to patch us up when we get home.
This isn’t just a good deal for civilians, it’s a damn good deal.
So, here’s the backstory. I was a graduate student in a highly competitive program at a major US university. The class was split up into small teams to perform an exercise. The exercise was a hypothetical scenario where we needed to rack and stack a group of candidates that were waiting in line to receive a kidney transplant.
Many of the eight candidates in the scenario were suffering from renal failure due to poor life choices (e.g. intravenous drug use, or poorly managed type 2 diabetes). But, one of the candidates was a fellow veteran. This man was in his twenties and he needed a kidney transplant because he was exposed to toxic chemicals while fighting in a foreign war.
Because of this chemical exposure, he became very ill and his kidneys stopped working correctly. The scenario also noted that he suffered from PTSD.
There was only one kidney available and we needed to decide who was going to get it.
I kept an open mind as I discussed the various candidates with my small group. I personally had the veteran near the top of my list to receive that kidney, but I knew in an ideal world they should all get a kidney.
A female acquaintance of mine asked me who I put at the top of the list. Her eyes got really wide when I told her the veteran was at the top.
She then laughed and said, “I had him dead last!"
Now this is a person that I have respect for, so I was interested to hear why she thought a junkie should get a life-saving kidney before a veteran that is experiencing kidney failure due to his service fighting in a war.
After all, I try to assume positive intent with people; perhaps she picked up on something that I didn’t see.
“He’s pretty much a waste of life now that he has PTSD – why would we bother to save him?”
My heart sank when I heard her say this with a straight face. She didn’t think there was anything wrong with her statement at all.
I turned to two members of my group that are also veterans. Both are ex-Army combat veterans. One was a special forces officer and the other was in EOD. We exchanged an awkward look.
I could see they were equally disappointed to hear how little this “hypothetical veteran” was valued.
I’m not a shy person and I rarely hold back when I hear someone say something that is just plain wrong, so I said a few words to my classmate.
I explained to her that what she said was just hateful.
Men suffering from PTSD are not used up resources that should be thrown away.
Men are not Disposable
They are our fathers, brothers, sons, and friends, and they volunteered to serve their country so that you would never have to experience the horrors of war. You may not like them, and you may not respect them, but you damn well better be prepared to take care of them when they return.
At the very least, you better vote for the government to take care of them so that they can get some semblance of a life back.
This is a very basic contract society has with its warrior class. And frankly, it’s the least we can do.
Half our population enjoys all the freedom and privileges of being an American and none of the responsibilities of fighting for them.
If you’ve ever served your country or even registered for the Selective Service, you should understand these words.
It’s time that we acknowledge the sacrifice of our veterans.
Veterans are the BEST our country has to offer. They’re not a burden, and don’t you ever let anyone tell you they are.