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As a business owner, husband, father, and veteran, I believe I exemplify one of the many possibilities for our veterans as they transition from the military. While I have been very lucky and successful both personally and professionally, I have also seen firsthand how hard it can be to transition from the military. Veteran stereotypes which are pervasive in our society do not help. On this Veterans Day, I would like to share some insight into two stereotypes and how you can help change the narrative ultimately helping every veteran to feel comfortable in their post-military world.
First, while our service to the nation is viewed as heroic, most veterans are very uncomfortable being called a hero for just doing our job. Within our population, the heroes are those who did extraordinary service and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. So who are we if we don’t all identify as heroes?
We are your neighbors, we own businesses, we work for the government, we work for you, we are right wing, we are left wing, we are gay, we are straight, we are coaches, we are students, we are parents, we are proud, we love the U.S., we have problems, we work through those problems, we are married, and we get divorced. We live one day at a time. We are just like non-veterans. We are Americans, just like you.
A more damaging stereotype is that of the mentally unstable veteran. I was very saddened this week by the Texas news and that the shooter had served in the military and had been dishonorably discharged. This dishonorable discharge ultimately prevented him from receiving behavioral health benefits that may have prevented this tragedy. I think we should re-examine this “bad paper” policy to see if calamities such as this can be avoided.
If you’re looking to help a veteran on this and future Veterans Days and want to help change these stereotypes, try volunteering to get to know your local Veteran community and spread the word about who we are. Our team and many other veteran advocates are out this weekend doing just that, volunteering at the VA Medical Centers, Fisher House, and other organizations across the country. Hope to see you there!
CEO, Three Wire Systems