Military veterans are ‘invaders’—don’t thank them

The day after Memorial Day, after I was thinking of all my buddies who died in various parts of the world serving their country, I saw the following diatribe posted on a social media site by a fellow American who loves guns (I changed some punctuation and removed a sentence):

No Thank You for Your Service.

Don’t expect thanks from me. I didn’t ask you to pick up a gun, or a bomb, and go fight with anyone. You may feel you are “serving” me, but it’s not at my request. The “enemy” you fight isn’t Hitler or Stalin. It isn’t a country invading other countries. In fact, this enemy seems to be mostly fabricated—created by the media. Guess who invaded another country?  YOU did.

This undeclared “war” has left countless men, women, and children dead. The “war” in Iraq looks to have hurt a lot more people than the country’s own former dictator did. I don’t want anything to do with it. Please don’t associate me with this fiasco.

I care about my brothers and sisters in Iraq or Afghanistan… I don’t care if they are brown, dress differently, speak a different language, have different customs and traditions. It makes no difference. They are my blood, and your blood.

I’m tired of the endless wars, and I’m tired of “patriotism” being synonymous with war and service. Freedom in speech and non-violent action is my preferred flavor of patriotism. America means FREEDOM to me, not war and fighting and military. Uniforms don’t represent freedom; they represent division from the public and conformity within the ranks.

So please, for the love of God, stop cramming all the uniforms and “heroes” and “support our troops” down our throats all the time. I don’t support the wars, and I don’t support the troops for being troops. I support them for being humans and being our brothers and sisters as anyone else. But they don’t represent me or my wishes—just as the politicians do not—just as the police do not—and as the mainstream media clearly doesn’t.

That’s all.  Time to go back to living.

This sentiment about thanking our troops isn’t relegated to the anonymous keyboard jockeys either, as you can see here in a recent op-ed from the New York Times.

As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as a police officer, as a lover of freedom and liberty, and as an American, I had a few poignant feelings when I read these words, especially from the quoted passage, and I want to share my thoughts with the author and with those who share his sentiments.

First, you’re right.  In Iraq, I didn’t serve for you.  In full self-disclosure, I went to Iraq hoping to kill terrorists.  Hussein’s henchmen literally cut out the tongues of Iraqi citizens.  Anyone who spoke against him or his military forces were tortured, imprisoned and even murdered.  I wanted to help stop that.

Luckily as an American citizen you won’t get your tongue cut out or your fingers chopped off for writing ignorant things about veterans or government officials.  In fact, you probably won’t even get shot for expressing your opinion.

As a veteran, I’m not allowing you the freedom to express yourself.  That freedom came from America’s Founding Fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and those who dedicate their lives to uphold and sustain those sacred documents.  As a member of the military, my job is to protect these freedoms and taking an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, like all military personnel do, is worthy of praise and appreciation, or at the very least not mean-spirited speech.

I served to preserve our freedoms, liberties and our way of life.  Those same rights that give you—and your future posterity, if applicable—the ability to say whatever you’d like to say about veterans or the government without fear of unjust treatment.

The war in Iraq, just like many other wars, was and still is controversial.  Reasons for going to war are important, yes, but regardless of any misgivings any individual has, military troops aren’t allowed to go AWOL or stop fighting just because things get hard or they feel one way or the other about leadership.  In order for our forces to function effectively at all, troops must obey and execute commands like the hammer and saw obey the carpenter.  Otherwise, the system breaks down and Americans die

War is hell.  The soldier, sailor, airman and Marine know that truth and reality better than those who have never served.  Judging from your words, I assume you’ve never experienced living or operating in a combat zone and for that you should be thankful.

If you had served, you’d know that no veteran ever wants to be called a hero or a heroine—ever.  For veterans who have seen how the sausage is made, it’s incredibly frustrating being labeled a “hero.”  But, since you haven’t been in the trenches and felt the bitterness of battle, you wouldn’t know.

Some veterans may feel that you’re personally attacking them by your diatribe.  Instead, I choose to believe you’re just naïve to what evil people are truly capable of.

If you truly loved people, as you allude to, you’d be prepared to kill to save lives, whether in Ramadi, Iraq or Anytown, USA.  Furthermore, you wouldn’t place blame or withhold praise from military veterans who are simply following orders and directives handed down by political leaders.  Democracy is the best system of government we have figured out yet, so if your problem lies anywhere, it’s with the politician–get educated on the issues and go vote.

By the way, the warrior knows what love is like no other person on earth.  He’d protect his “brothers” at any and all costs, even by laying down his own life, if necessary. The warrior’s bane involves the moral, ethical and emotional pain of protecting others.  War is a hard choice, but sometimes war is the right choice.

Now, to your charging troops with “invading” other countries.  That sounds like something taken from a terrorist manual.  (Not that I’d classify you with ISIS, but I recognize there are some ISIS sympathizers in the US.)

If an attack happened again inside the US or outside the US to citizens abroad, I believe you’d be the same person who would blame troops and the US for not protecting you or them.  Instead, why not serve your country?  Join the Marines or any other branch of service, if you can handle it.

Oh, and the police who you also alluded to as being tyrants in uniform (my interpretation of your words)… they will help investigate your death if a veteran decides to shoot you.  By the way, just as you say the media has misinformed you and countless others, murder is not a symptom of PTSD.

If you choose to read my forthcoming book Warrior SOS, which will be in bookstores in September 2015, you’ll read the stories of many real veterans who explain, in their own words, just how difficult war is for all human beings.  I don’t expect you to understand what they experienced, but if you’re open-minded enough, you’ll learn something and appreciate what veterans and warriors go through.  If you’re not so open-minded, then I guess you’ll just continue dribbling foolish and insensitive remarks about veterans as you have, especially right after Memorial Day–a day when every veteran is mourning the loss of his or her brothers or sisters in arms.

Do I agree with some of the things you’ve said?  Sure.  I probably hate war more than you do, probably because I’ve been in a couple.  Nevertheless, I sure would respect your opinion a whole lot more if you had worn the uniform, honorably served our country and then said what you did.  But then again, if you were a military veteran, I doubt you would have the same feelings you currently do.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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