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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 07/03/2018 09:36:02

Good Morning.

As we're about to head into that orgy of Americanism tomorrow, you may have seen one or two of these around where you live.

http://www.militarywithptsd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Veteran-Firework-Sign.jpg


While this seems like something we should heed, it's actually indicative of a far deeper problem in the house behind that sign.


Writer Scott Faith has an entirely different take on what that sign might mean.


...With much respect and love to my fellow veterans who have them, I think these "be courteous" signs are a terrible idea. The message reinforces the worst stereotypes about us: that we're all broken, that we're attention-mongers, that we think we're different and special, and that the American people should bend to our whims simply because we served. I think that's a bad message for us to send, and an even worse mindset for us to have.

Reasonable people can disagree about the utility of the signs. Some veterans point out that with the plague of PTSD and the veteran suicide epidemic, reminding people that veterans are nearby and that loud noises can be triggering might help. Or, they reason, it can't hurt.

I disagree.

Brothers and sisters, if your PTSD is so bad that you need to live in complete quiet you need treatment, not a yard sign. Get professional help. If that's not an option, or if it's not coming in a timely manner, head over to the Super Wal-Mart and take matters into your own hands. Don't wait on the government, or ask your neighbor, to do something for you that you can do yourself.

For whatever it's costing for "shipping and handling" of these signs, I imagine you could buy a bottle of melatonin, a cup of warm milk, and a crapload of foam earplugs. That's bound to be far more useful to you than a yard sign, which may or may not be heeded. In fact, the sign might have the unintended consequence of encouraging MORE noisy behavior.

The sign also has the unintended consequence of making people think veterans want America to change for us. Fellow vets, America doesn't have to change for us, we have to change for it. What we did in uniform is essential work for our nation, but it doesn't entitle us to ask for everyone around us to change. Post-traumatic stress exists, but so does post-traumatic growth. You're not going to grow if you expect everything around you to change instead of changing yourself.

To me, these signs are the veteran equivalent of the Facebook "humble-brag." It's basically saying, "Hey, I'm a veteran, I want you to acknowledge my special-ness, feel sorry for me, and give me special treatment, " without having to say "Hey, I'm a veteran, I want you to acknowledge my special-ness, feel sorry for me, and give me special treatment." These signs are a physical manifestation of the belief many veterans have that the American people owe us something.

Guess what folks? The American people don't owe us sh*t.

The American government owes us plenty. But not the American people. If you want to put a sign in your yard advocating for your rights under the 2nd Amendment, or to ensure politicians keep the promises they made to the Veteran Community, or to bash the VA, by all means go ahead. But don't ask the American people to give us more than they already have.

Your signs aren't going to help anything. In fact, they are going to make it worse. They cause us to see ourselves as a class separate from our fellow citizens, and it causes our peers to see us as dangerous, broken, fragile, or as something to be feared.


Now, I had a gentleman in my Cub Scout pack like that - he served in the early days of the Iraq war, and had actually been in treatment for PTSD and other things for years after he returned home. Boys being boys though, whenever we were playing loud games, or popping balloons, or even just hammering things, our leader would often excuse himself from the proceedings until the noisy part had passed.

He knew it, and he knew what he had to do to avoid triggers - but he did it of his own volition without asking the rest of the Pack to "be courteous" as it were. (Of course, "A Scout is Courteous", all he needed to do was ask. But he never did.)

So maybe just ponder on this Independence Day Eve something Dr. Maddow said more than a decade ago.

"The war in Iraq won't end until the last, tortured veteran dies screaming in his sleep, perhaps 70 years from now."


 

15 comments (Latest Comment: 07/04/2018 02:10:40 by velveeta jones)
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