Heroes are people who do heroic things. Sometimes they are soldiers. Ironically, soldiers decorated as heroes are sometimes uncomfortable in the role, realizing that what they had done was done out of some animal instinct in a moment of sheer terror, with no intention of doing anything other than surviving. I think that's why those folks often point to the dead and say "there lie the heroes."
But joining one of the armed services because you need a job, or because you need an education is not heroic, it is self-serving. Many of these people never want to see combat, and many don't. That's not to criticize people who join the service because its a job. Lots of people take on potentially hazardous occupations out of necessity.
But when was the last time you heard a guy who slipped and fell to his death on a construction site referred to as a "hero?" And yet, he took his hazardous job for the same purpose that many, if not most, take a job in the service.
I think it does a disservice to actual heroism to label everyone who joins the service a "hero."
It also contributes to the sort of "my country right or wrong" attitude that justifies any war our "heroes" fight in, regardless of whether those wars are really defending the security of the United States - as in World War II - or whether they are mere jousts at an imaginary windmill like the "Domino Theory" that entangled us in Vietnam, or whatever reasons George W. Bush and Dick Cheney insisted on attacking Iraq.
That is not to say that heroic deeds did not occur in each of these conflicts, no matter how unjustified the reason for the conflict itself. They did. But those heroic deeds are not in themselves justification for the wars in which they occurred, and therein lies the rub.
The military-industrial complex loves the idea of universal heroism, as it plays right into its agenda of perpetual war for profit.
Sometimes heroism is publicly opposing a war, and subjecting oneself to the harassment and charges of cowardice that go along with anti-war protests in a country of flag-wrapping hypocrites. That involves suffering, too, although the wounds may not be as visible.
How is saving lives by preventing a war not a greater heroism than heroic acts in a war that takes lives?
How can a nation that describes itself as "Christian" believe otherwise, if "Christian" means emulating the life of Jesus? I say it can't, unless "Christian" means something else altogether.