Monday, November 12, 2018
A Veteran's Day Apology
Hard as may be for you to believe, I am a US Army vet. I was a field artillery reservist for eight years. This was before all but two Reserve combat units were abolished. And for good reason. We sucked. I was a terrible soldier. But my proudest moment is when I was killed during a mock war in one of the many evaluations we failed. We were being tested by the 82d Airborne, and our monitor told me he really liked the way I died. In a slow southern drawl, he told me he'd be "honored" to have me in his unit. So I've got that going for me.
Before the Persian Gulf War broke out, I volunteered to join the many reservists who had also signed up. Initially, I was accepted. There was a going away party for me at the courthouse. Others took me to lunch. I was very popular.
I made it as far as battalion headquarters in Burlington. There I was told that there was a very good chance my unit would soon be activated. They needed me there because I was a Chief of Smoke. But they'd be "honored" to have me.
When I returned to the courthouse the following day, I was pretty much the laughing stock. I still hear about it. At my Reserve unit, I soon realized it had been pretty much gutted. All the young guys were gone. Some went on to become helicopter pilots and tank commanders. Every now and then, one would call or even drop in.
Some say I was passed over because I was too old. I prefer to think I was too good-looking.
Quite obviously, my experience in the military pales in comparison to those who served in combat, as did my father and daughter. Those are heroes. Unfortunately, some go astray when they return. We need to do a much better job of recognizing post traumatic stress syndrome and caring for combat veterans.
I was delighted to read SNL's Pete Davidson apology to disabled vet and Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, who lost an eye on his third combat tour in Afghanistan. Davidson had mocked Crenshaw's eyepatch.
"Americans can forgive one another—we can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other," said Crenshaw.
Hope he's right.
He went on to say that Davidson's father was a firefighter who lost his life on 9/11.