Blogging is all about ‘neighborhood’ connections.
I have had the best time getting to know my fellow bloggers throughout Blogging 101. Yesterday our exercise was to suss out some new blogs and leave intelligent comments. Or at least a comment beyond “cool”. Today our job is to pick one of those blogs and write a post on why we picked that blog to leave a comment on. Here comes my disclaimer: most of the time I am a happy go lucky person. However, I am fiercely proud of our soldiers (note I said soldiers, not the military complex) and this post is a bit more serious than I usually do.
I am choosing a post from Carryingthegun. You can read it yourself here. I am picking this one for a couple of reasons. One, I have nothing but respect for people who choose to defend our country. I think they go through things most humans have no conception of–I know I don’t. Two, it seemed like a light-hearted post about how veterans view their lives through the lens of their service, and how perhaps that is not always a good thing.
Now, not everyone who enters the military is a good person. Like the rest of the world and careers, there are jerks mixed in decent sorts. So when a jerk comes home from military service, he’s probably still a jerk. That is not really the military’s fault. I think that is a good starting point.
Because what happened in the 325 comments that followed the light-hearted post was a heated discussion of rape and military issues. There are always people who disagree any given point of view. Discussion is always good, especially at this time of year: it keeps the blood heated. But there are also those who skew facts to fit their side of the argument.
One reader was quite insistent on discussing rapists in the army. There are certainly rape issues in the army. It is a rather slow-moving machine when it comes to the idea of “boys club” and change. But I don’t think it is fair to tar every military person with that brush. Before I get yelled at, if you rape someone, you should go to jail. Period. No get out of jail free card, no extenuating circumstances. But for every man from the military who rapes someone, there are thousands more who do not–and who justly condemn the man who did.
This reader used one news article to back up their point of view. And when it was pointed out that it was not 1 in 5 military men coming home that rape someone, but 1 in 5 military sex offenders that don’t register as required, the reader jumped on the offense: accusing the correcting reader as thinking that made it ok to have rape in the military. I have no patience for people on a soapbox when that soapbox is not connected to the original post. Makes me think the reader was simply surfing the web, looking for a place to sound off. Any military site would have done.
I am pleased to say that those commenters who did not get sidetracked by the vitriol (and it really was caustic), had some excellent ideas on why soldiers need to talk about their time abroad and use those experiences to filter everyday life here at home.
“Service where one risked their life to do what they felt was right in the service of their country should never be belittled. Even if the soldier comes back with no physical scars it does not mean they are ever completely whole, again. That needs to be remembered and respected, they and their families gave up months and sometimes years of “normal life” so that the rest of us can sleep soundly at night without fear of a bomb hitting our home as we sleep, or someone coming in with guns to murder us as we sleep because we are different from them. We do not have to fear while walking into a store to shop for groceries that a bomber will follow us in and take our lives or a member of our families lives. We can go about our day-to-day existence in relative peace and security because these people risked their lives for all the people of this country without ever meeting the majority of us”–sacredhandscoven
We need to look outside our perception of why we think soldiers are condescending and maybe listen to their stories. I imagine–and I say imagine, because I would not presume to think I know–that coming home is as much a shock to their systems as arriving at a base overseas was. And maybe worse, because we all think they should be happy to be home and pick up their lives where they left off, as if nothing changed.
I had a nice old man who was a customer at my bank. He had a round-robin of restaurants he went to everyday in town. At first I thought it was because he was simply social. Then one day he said that Uncle Sam had fed him for 30 years. And his wife fed him for 20 more. Now he doesn’t know how to cook and eats out for every meal. And that is a rather benign example. Imagine what the veteran you see every day is going through. Maybe you should ask. Or at least not sneer if they talk about the service that gave you freedom.