I’m not technically a Vet just yet as I’m still active duty, but it feels an awful lot like I am – my ship-driving and pirate-fighting days are over for the forseeable future, and I put on flip flops to go to “work” most days.
It’s only been a few weeks at school and I’ve already had a couple of opportunities to hear some amazing people speak about the intersection of the legal and national security worlds. One thing that’s disturbed me a bit lately at both theses speeches and in the election raging right now is the tendency to put the military on a pedestal. A speaker here, meaning well, described Veterans and the military as the “Greatest Americans.”
I disagree – the military are Americans doing great things. There are LOTS of great Americans, in and out of the military, in and out of government. Veterans deserve our respect and our thanks – but they are just normal Americans looking to make a life for themselves. Putting the military on a pedestal increases the distance between the military and the general population, a separation that is good for neither group.
A great example of bridging this gap is Team Rubicon – a group of military vets that have teamed with medical personnel to react to natural disasters. I’m a little biased since I’m married to one, but there’s no better example of Great Americans than many of the EMTs, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Doctors and other health professionals that save lives every day. A group like Team Rubicon shows that military veterans are best treated when they and their skills are integrated into a larger cause, not a cause in and of themselves.
The Team is a group of military veterans that have paired with medical personnel to volunteer to go on “Missions” in various crisis and natural disaster zones, combining their unique skill sets in service of a higher mission. While the military and medicine have a natural complementary relationship, I suspect that there are lots of other opportunities out there for Great Americans of all stripes to combine their skills.
A lot of wounded vets come home with a host of physical and mental problems. As a nation, there is no doubt that we owe them the best possible medical care. I suspect, though, that the vast majority of them do not want our pity – they want to live a life and be treated like any other American. The reason many of them joined the military in the first place is because they like the outdoors, they like running around in the and blowing stuff up – so these pictures are pretty great:
The link is definitely worth your time- pictures of lots of wounded veterans going out and doing the things they love with the help of other veterans.