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   When I went into the military,it was to get out off a really bad home situation. I was a 20 year old highschool dropout, way over weight, no prospects but doing the same old job working for my father. I needed a kick in my ass, real serious like.
   At first I was going to join the coast guard, but their recruiters were on vacation. The Army's weren't, and they pounced on me like a cat. I was bombarded 12 hours a day by those joe's, and in the end they got me with the GI Bill and a $14,000 bonus.
   Even though I risked my life in Iraq, I see what happened there as my duty. I am no hero, no Rambo, I am just an aging vet who did his job, who fought for his country when it was time. When I see a person use their service as a stepping stone in life or career, to me it dishonors all those people that have died in that same service. To me it is sacred, a memory that is shaping my life everyday by how it changed me, not on how it changes peoples perception of me.

   I came back from Iraq in 2004, around April 20th, and got 30 days leave immediately. My parents and brother and sister got a beach house down on the Carolina coast to welcome me home, and that is still one of the best vactions in my memory. On the 2nd day we went to a little bar/grill on the island, and we had about 12-13 people there, family and friends who had come out. This DJ/karaoke guy takes the stage, and his name is CPT Sax(I am not kidding). He is in a uniform that is pure Love Boat, and a voice you could here all the way out in the parking lot.

   So dinners over, we are having some drinks. and all of the sudden CPT Sax is lkee "Lets all welcome home Sgt. Bair, back not even a week from Iraq!!!" My aunt had slipped him a note about the party we were having, and after that, it was returning soldier night. Differnt people were buying me unlimited drinks, my girlfriend (soon to be wife) so happy for me, everyone looking at me. I felt so uncomfortable, I actually made us leave, claiming I was tired

   I got into a fight with a instructor from my online school (I am a full time student), and actually cused him out. I was completly in the right, and in the end when I said lets go see the dean he relented. He asked to start over, and to tell him about myself. As soon as I said I was a vet, it was a slober fest, just pure butt kiss. Again, I felt really uncomfortable, and broke off all emails with the guy unless absolutly necessary.

   I was going back over my dairys, and saw that everytime I mention I am a vet, the first thing out is Thank you for your service. Please stop. I am just a guy who did his duty. If you really want to thank me, use that energy to write you congressman or senator, and ask them to increase vets benifits. I am not a hero, I need and want no thanks. I do not speak for every vet, just myself. While sometimes I write about it, it is personal, and not somthing you need to thank me for. Duty just is, and most people need to relize that. That is my belief, and that is what I got out of the war. Taxes are duty, jury duty is duty, fighting and dying for country is duty. Between vets there is no thanks, just respect.

   Have fun, Learn facts, Yours truly, The Drunken Democrat

Originally posted to badbair on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 05:32 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am not an alcoholic (4+ / 0-)

    Alcoholics go to meetings. I'm a drunk. Keep your head down brudda.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 05:39:08 PM PDT

    •  It's not really alcoholism (0+ / 0-)

      if you know it's fucking up your life AND you look forward to it fucking up your life.  At that point you are just a party boy.

      David Lee Roth:  Some people like to party.  I am the party.

      F#$< 'em if they can't take a joke. If they can, well, f#$< them too -Dale Slusher

      by jaslusher on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:34:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I never quite got that either. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eikyu Saha

    Hang in there. It takes a while for some things to start making sense...but some never do.

  •  I won't thank you for your service. (12+ / 0-)

    but I'll thank you for being a humble man in a world full of pompacity (is that a word?) and pride.

    You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

    by DawnG on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 05:45:54 PM PDT

  •  You remind me of my dad. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Eikyu Saha, operculum, GreenHills

    He never spoke of his service in Korea.  Only when he received a special invitation to the Korean Memorial opening did I learn that he and every man in his platoon had been awarded the silver star for heroism.  They were called the silver platoon.  He declined to attend.  When I asked why, he told me that the men that should be honored were those that received their silver star in a VA hospital, and those that gave all and did not live to see their silver star.

    We live in a hero culture now.  You don't have to do anything extraordinary to get this tag.  You sound like you are grounded and know who you are.  Like my dad, you don't need the external pat on the back. I think instead of telling you thanks I will volunteer at the local VA and tell those guys thanks.

    "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." -Plutarch

    by DEQ54 on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 05:55:57 PM PDT

  •  But that's the thing. It WASN'T your duty. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bliss149, chigh, on the cusp

    Our all-pro army means that whatever people's motivations are for joining up, the bottom line is that it's a job done for pay.  It's not a duty. Your only duty, once you've signed up, is to do as you're told.  If some recruits see it as their duty to sign up, that probably means that the "pride" factor is being used at some level to compensate for the "pay" factor.  

    So, after all, it does seem kind of silly to thank you for serving.  But what I can say is that I wish you had been paid a bit better for it, I'm glad you didn't get killed, and I'll vote for the candidate who will see to it that our many injured vets get the support they need.  And, for the sake of all of us, I hope you were never ordered to kill anyone, because if you were, and you did, you'll never really know who it was.  

  •  Folk don't know what to say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bmcphail, Demi Moaned

    and certainly, they mean well.

    As embarrassing as maybe you're finding it, remember that.  And chances are, you deserve it more than you're giving yourself credit.

    "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

    by mbayrob on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:00:28 PM PDT

    •  They are also to some extent practicing CYA.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duckhunter

      in the current atmosphere of sick jingoism that passes for political discourse it can be hazardous to betray any "unpatriotic" lack of enthusiasm.

      Baz

      •  Only some of them (0+ / 0-)

        Certainly, folks who signed up for ROTC or for military service are not responsible for the clusterfuck that is Iraq, and I for one won't blame them for the war.  Even the unfortunates who got blamed for things like Abu Ghraib are mostly people who were following orders -- not a great excuse, but not the source of the problem either.

        I feel for the diarist.  Sounds like he feels like he needs forgiving.  And perhaps he does:  most of all, from himself.  I can't say if I'd agree with him if I knew the full story or not.  But there's no shame in talking with a minister, a priest or a psychologist to make sure that he approaches himself with enough compassion.

        Certainly, the people who've gone to Iraq and to Afghanistan deserve our thanks, even if they're uncomfortable with it.  But I'd rather the focus was on what an individual vet actually needs, rather, than what makes the rest of us feel more comfortable with ourselves.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:25:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I experienced a perfect example of this.......... (0+ / 0-)

        going through airport security.  I could hear the TSA ass screaming, literally, that everyone, take off their shoes, take out their laptops, pitch their lighters and any liquids not in the proper bag at least a hundred some feet from the entrance to the concourse.  There were military scattered throughout the line, numerous recruits all headed to Fort Leonard Wood.  Some clown, almost at the entrance suddenly noticed all of the men and women in uniform and began walking up and down the line thanking them all for their service.  No one said a peep, and I mean this clown looked disturbed, he was climbing over people to shake hands and thank them.  The military personnel looked embarassed, a bit shocked.  About three or four minutes into this performance a TSA guard approached and I thought was going to grab the guy split his wig right there. But the TSA dude just followed behind him, right on his heels letting him go on for another minute or so. Finally he quietly told the man to get back to the front of the line and pick up his bag.  Pick up his bag?  Everyone was on tiptoes looking to see what was going to happen to the guy as the guard walked him forward.  They waltzed him through security and that was the last I saw of him.  If this guy was just saying, say merry Christmas the TSA would have tazed his ass.

        If McCain doesn't send your Job overseas he'll send your Kid.

        by duckhunter on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:41:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Clichés (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    espresso, bliss149, mbayrob, GW Chimpzilla

    People rely on clichés to smooth over situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

    Americans understandably feel very uncomfortable about our military adventure in Iraq. Those who haven't been there know there's an unbridgeable experience gap separating them from those who have. The current cliché for filling that space is thanking the service member.

    It's relatively harmless and far better than blaming the grunts for the evils that our national policy is perpetrating.

    Clichés are often a way to avoid 'being real' and if that's what you object to in this case, I sympathize.

  •  I only hate it when Repuglicans do it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bliss149, duckhunter, old wobbly

    When I'm arguing with a repug and it comes up and they say "Thank you for your service" real smarmy, like: Thanks for your service A-hole. I tell em Don't bother, I didn't do it for them.

    If Liberals really hated America we'd vote Republican

    by exlrrp on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:06:46 PM PDT

    •  i was wondering if you were out there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      duckhunter

      i wanted you to know that i did some lrrp's in traing, and that team is still alive in the cav. and yeah, most people who thank me gop on after that saying don't worry, we will always beat those dems. stupid mother fuckers.

      •  Yeah I'm still out here (5+ / 0-)

        Yr story is a lot like mine--I enlisted to get out of a bad situation and it took me not a short time to recover from my war (work still in progress)
        I started with like a decade or so of partying. There went my first marriage and a lot of other things.
        Historians call this my Early Blue Period. Enjoy it while it lasts---Just don't do anything to hurt yourelf and others. There's people out there who will help you---don't antagoinize them

        Don't forget---youre still working on your first life

        Stay good

        If Liberals really hated America we'd vote Republican

        by exlrrp on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:20:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You also remind me of my dad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iampunha, DEQ54

    a WWII vet who volunteered to go into battle, foregoing his assignment as a chauffeur to assorted generals.
    He never used the words duty, or honor..he just wanted the respect of fellow soldiers who were assigned to the front.
    He was ashamed not to go with them.  It took him over a year to get his way.
    His new assignment was D-Day.

    Cowards die many times before their deaths... Shakespeare, Julius Ceasar, II, 2

    by on the cusp on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:13:35 PM PDT

  •  civic duty and life... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadTexan

    When I see a person use their service as a stepping stone in life or career, to me it dishonors all those people that have died in that same service.

    I'm going to have to disagree here.. I don't feel that it is ones duty to join the military, in a war with a draft that may be true. You volunteered to take a job with low pay and high risk that should benefit all of us. Of course there are various reasons why someone could have made that choice: civic duty being one of them.

    The fact that someone chose to join the military says something about them. The choice to hire or offer another opportunity to veteran is often not a result of a desire to thank someone who performed a service but rather as a result of what that says about that individual as a future employee. Thus, I don't feel it is inappropriate for a veteran to use their service time in order to move forward in life.

  •  My half-brother got Coast Guard (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    and then he got Alaska. Grew up in Southern California. It was real cold, but the experiences were great, he says. Being in Alaska, they had heavy seas and had to be skilled seamen but they didn't have to to any of that lame drug interdiction up there like they have to do in Florida and California.

    Pax Americana ended on August 8, 2008

    by GW Chimpzilla on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:17:10 PM PDT

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nonie3234, rockhound

    "If you really want to thank me, use that energy to write you congressman or senator, and ask them to increase vets benifits."

    See my sig.

    And thanks for kicking your own ass:)

    "Homeless veteran" should be an oxymoron.

    by iampunha on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:30:04 PM PDT

  •  Thanks anyway.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mscharizmaa

    the thing is that we have to thank you.  My wife is in also - she just left for Iraq for 9 month stint flying 'Hawks.  I think part of the sentiment is that no one wants to be perceived as anti-soldier - as many on the left actually were in the sixties.  .

    The fact is, though, you deserve to be thanked - not because you did anything that was specifically all that great, but because you volunteered to be one of those who could be asked to do that great thing.  It might not have been what you were actually asked to do.  But you did what was asked.

    Now, what you do with your life now that you are back is totally up to you.  If you want to drink and drink and drink some more, that is your right.  

    I applaud you for not wanting to leverage or exploit your service - but you should still be proud that you did it and I am sure that you bring some things from your time in Iraq and in the service that will help you in your life - don't forget to take it with you.

    So thanks anyway, man, sincerely and truly, thanks.

    •  meh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nonie3234

      After seven years of research and writing, my book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam was published in August 1998, by New York University Press.  The book has received widespread press in the print and electronic media.  Many veterans have responded to my book with gratitude that I have set the story straight.  Others have challenged my thesis, claiming to have been treated badly when they returned from the war.  Few of the latter stories, however, lend validity to the myth that it was anti-war activists who were hostile to vets.  Upon questioning, vets will often concede that the hostility came from older veterans, the Veteran's Administration hospital, or simply a drunk in a bar.  The historical fact is that the peace movement saw veterans as potential allies and reached out to them.  

      If the image of the spat-upon veteran is mythical, how then does it come to be so widely accepted?  Myths help people come to terms with difficult periods of their past.  They provide explanations for why things happened.  The myth of the spat-upon veteran functions in this way by providing an alibi for why the most powerful and righteous nation on earth (as the United States perceives itself to be) lost the war to an underdeveloped Asian nation.  The myth says, in effect, that we were not beaten by the Vietnamese but were defeated on the home front by fifth columnists: the anti-war movement.

      Explanations offered by myths can also help reconcile disparities between a group's self-image and the historical record.  On a societal level, we have largely forgotten that much of the energy and inspiration for the anti-war movement came from veterans of not only Vietnam but World War II as well.  We "forget" because the image of anti-war warriors does not fit comfortably with the militarism that dominates our culture. But political amnesia can be dangerous.  For the military, the failure to remember GI and veteran opposition to the war could lead to overly optimistic assessments of what to expect from soldiers in a future conflict.  Written in the Catholic Radical, Australian peace activist Ciaron O'Reilly recently reported that more serious resistance to the Gulf War came from within the military than from the peace movement.  Plagued by myth, young people today have erroneously come to equate being anti-war with being anti-soldier, a connection the Bush administration helped to promote.  The myth sullies the reputation of those individuals and organizations that dared to dissent and strips Vietnam veterans of their true place in history as gallant fighters against the war.  

      -- Jerry Lembcke,  Associate Professor of Sociology

  •  I'm a vet from a military family (0+ / 0-)

    and yes, you have to expect this, especially given that there is no draft.  You're kind of right about the duty thing, but let's face it, going into the military is more than most people do.  That's why they thank you so much.  They're thanking you not just for the fact that you did something more than the average citizen, but often because they did not do so themselves, and maybe even don't want their kids to do so.  

    Now about the booze and the anger.  Booze is fine, so long as you aren't using it as a crutch to get through things.  There is a long tradition of soldiers using alcohol as a way of taking the edge off of things--did so myself after Desert Storm.  If you find yourself drinking every night or feeling like you absolutely need to have a drink/beer after a tough day, then it may be time to think about where that is leading.

    With the anger--look, you've been in the Army for a few years--you know that there are plenty of times when you have to suck it up in the face of some asshole who thinks he knows better than you or uses a position of authority to fuck with you.  If you are having trouble dealing with these situations--especially if you could handle them before--then it may be time to go seek out some help from a therapist.  Not saying you got PTSD, but you don't want to let the anger get out of control and you end up doing something stupid.  There's nothing wrong with going this route--my bro-in-law is SF/sniper and did 18 months in Iraq--he did so with no repercussions to his career.  He also is glad he did so, as it kept him from taking things out on my wife and has helped him be a good father to his 1 yo son.  

    So, bottom line is that you need to take care of yourself and not let booze/anger get out of hand.  Take control of your life and be all you can be!

    "You can't look into another man's soul. You know what they say: another man's soul is a riddle." Ivan Turgenev, "The Knocking"

    by dizzydean on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 06:58:22 PM PDT

    •  Ooops... (0+ / 0-)

      that should be "my sister" n the second to last paragraph--but then, I'm partaking of appropriate beverages tonight myself...

      "You can't look into another man's soul. You know what they say: another man's soul is a riddle." Ivan Turgenev, "The Knocking"

      by dizzydean on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 07:08:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some comments (0+ / 0-)

    I've seen people slobber all over Iraq vets, and them get uncomfortable about it. I was in Memphis airport while a guy (politician? Seemed like it) went around shaking the hands of all the many uniformed returnees while they just looked uncomfortable. I didn't know what to say. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    I teach military part-time, but not online. Comments from online instructors would lead me to suggest you get into a face to face course for various reasons I can go into if you want. You may be perfectly justified in your complaints about your instructor. Or not. I don't know, but I know enough not to judge any case until I know not just what it's about but all the facts. Good luck with your college curriculum. You'll get out of it what you put into it.

  •  Thanks for your diary, and your honesty. (0+ / 0-)

    I've never told anyone this, but whenever I see people in military uniform, I get all fucked up. Like - tongue tied and weepy. I can't explain it. I want to go, like, hug them or whatever. What I end up doing instead is nothing, and then I feel bad for ignoring them.

    Thanks for letting me know that it's possible that some of them might feel the way you do, and prefer to be left alone.

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