As I scrolled through my FB timeline today, I noticed that one of my Senators, Cory Booker, posted this article entitled “Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service”. He said that it was an important and insightful read for him, so I decided see what the fuss was about.
Glad I did.
The article itself was good. I know many people like the veterans featured in the article. The really good stuff (in my opinion) were the comments on Cory Booker’s FB page about the article.
Most of the top comments were from veterans who made two things very clear:
1. If you are truly grateful for veterans’ service, contact your Congress people in support of better services (health care, psych counseling, etc) for returning veterans.
2. If you are truly grateful, participate in our American democracy. Vote. Keep up with current events. Have an educated opinion based on your independent research. Be an active and meaningful member of our society. Give back to your community in a meaningful way. Volunteer. Vote. Take part.
Most people would not volunteer to go to war, nor would they support their children or loved ones’ decisions to join the armed forces. Very few people understand why service members choose to do what they do. Those are deep seeded feelings based on fear and also a bias against service members. I think a lot of Americans believe that the people who join the military are people who have little to offer, come from a poor background, or have made poor decisions and don’t have any other options. I’ve heard this often in the undertones of questions like, “Why did your husband go into the military? Didn’t he go to college?” or (prior to getting engaged to my husband) “Why don’t you date someone who is doing something with their life?”
The same people who carry this deep seeded bias are usually the first to thank a veteran. I know this from experience. It’s like they have a knee-jerk reaction to compensate for their bias. They don’t understand, so they have to say something.
I don’t think these biased people are bad humans, but I encourage them — and all people in general — to take a look deep inside and ask themselves why they feel the way they do.
To get back to the article and, more importantly, the comments …
Next time you see a veteran, think about what you can do to not only support them, but to support the democracy that they have given so much to support. You don’t have to agree with the wars or the people who sent them to war to support service members. Think about your part in our democracy, and remind yourself of the importance of being a meaningful member of society. Voting is essential. Being educated on current events is essential. Volunteering or attending civic events and is essential.
Take part. Vote. Volunteer.