Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thoughts To Chew On

I came across a couple of different articles today discussing civilian/veteran interactions and people's desire to thank active duty soldiers/troops as they come across them (usually in airports). As readers of my blog have noticed, I've written several times about my own personal experiences and feelings when strangers come up to me and start thanking me. It can get a bit awkward, especially for an introvert. My go to response is to just thank them for their "thanks" and move on. My real issue is when people I hardly know pry further then they should, often bringing up something about PTSD or my mental health.

According to this article, there is a growing number of veterans who don't even like to be thanked for their service. To some of these vets...
"...the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters."
I understand that sentiment, and a few times during my service (usually immediately after a deployment), I agreed with it. Thanking me felt especially shallow when it came directly after finding out what I did without any further inquiry into my life or story. What exactly is this person thanking me for?

But the statement (and the article in general) feels asshole'ish. This comment really irked me:
“At least with Vietnam, people spit on you and you knew they had an opinion.”
I'm sorry, but I'd rather be thanked than spit on. Don't let that chip on your shoulder blind you to what could be genuine thoughtfulness. Something I need to remind myself on occasion.

The second article is a little more sad. There are no heroes in it. A captain takes $40 (!) from an older lady who wants to thank him for what he does, not realizing that she's giving money to an officer who makes more than enough to support himself and his family. The officer, who is also a chaplain, should have declined the money. It's one thing to pay for someone's meal, it's another to just hand them money like they are a charity case. The author calls the captain out on it, but he does it in an obnoxious way which results in the chaplain fleeing the airport bar without paying his tab. Call the captain out on his error, but perhaps encourage him to use that money for a good use, like donating it to the airport USO or finding some lower enlisted soldiers who could use a free meal.


Friday, February 20, 2015

ISIS Threats, Italy Mocks

Back in November I wrote a post mentioning ISIS had (sort of) expanded into Libya. Since then, the organization, or at least those individuals claiming allegiance to ISIS, has captured some towns and a little bit of territory in the country. That's not particularly noteworthy; Libya is a bloody mess right now and I'm pretty sure I could get on a flight to north Africa, recruit twenty people, and capture my own little corner of Libya.

I'd call it Bani Warhorse or بني حصان الحرب. Somebody design me a flag.

Anyway...those little ISIS-alligned rapscallions like to use Twitter, and after the group captured the town of Sirte some ISIS-linked accounts threatened to conquer Rome. Good initiative there buddy, but maybe you should keep your focus on Tripoli or Benghazi before taking on a European capital. As for a response from Italy? Italians showed a bit of their humor and warned ISIS of Rome's horrible traffic and public transportation issues.

Good for them. Now I feel like a cannoli.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Deployment Nostalgia

Here's a short blog post that attempts to explain deployment nostalgia. However, I'm not sure it's something that can really be put into words. One has to experience it for yourself before you truly understand.

To counter the above, a top ten list of why deployment nostalgia is bullshit. The reality is that deployments are horrible. I have experienced and agree with most of what's on this list. Especially Ali Al Salem Airbase, it really is purgatory on Earth. There's just no other way of explaining it.