Posts Tagged ‘Veterans Day’

“Thank you for your service,” says golf pro Michael Allen to Major William McGarry, Bioenvironmental Equipment Engineer, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron during the last day of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., Saturday. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meredith Mingledorff)

The family was listening, again, to the original cast album for the Broadway sensation Hamilton, when this dialogue from the song Helpless came on:
[ELIZA]
Thank you for all your service
[HAMILTON]
If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it

And I laughed. The Wife wondered why, and I said that “Thank you for your service” is such a 21st century trope, used there as a deliberate anachronism. And by trope, I mean “a common or overused theme or device.”

This got me to wondering how vets feel about it. In Why Saying “Thank You for Your Service” Offends Some Veterans, James Kelly wrote: “As active-duty USMC, I have to admit that when people thank me for my service, I feel awkward and a little uncomfortable. But why? Where do veterans’ uneasiness come from?

“The first issue is that literally everyone says it. In fact, it is said so much that it has become, to many vets, an empty platitude, something you just say because it is politically correct.

“Some veterans believe that saying ‘thank you for your service’ is almost a way for civilians to massage away some of the guilt at not participating themselves.”

Rich (only name given), suggests “Thank You for Your Service” Can Actually Do More Harm Than Good.

“In her book Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers (2015), Dr. Nancy Sherman discusses this conflicted relationship veterans have with the phrase and the people who casually offer it. As University Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and the Inaugural Distinguished Chair of Ethics at the United States Naval Academy, she is a philosopher who lectures worldwide on moral injury and military ethics.

“Dr. Sherman relates this to a greater problem that she describes as the ‘gaping disconnect between those who wear the uniform and those who don’t.’ She describes thank you for your service as a ‘token of gratitude or something that is meant to break the ice, although it often doesn’t accomplish that goal.’ Instead, it can at times come across as ‘glib,’ or just a ‘one-stop remark [a person] can dispense with’ to avoid any meaningful communication.”

See also Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service.

So what should you do instead?

The first article notes:

“When I asked veterans how civilians should thank them for their service, one answer proved to be the most common: ‘VOTE!’ Volunteer in your community, try and make a difference, and vote for what you believe is right. Honor the actions of veterans by ensuring that your voice is heard at the ballot box. Educate yourself on veterans’ issues. There are a number of fantastic organizations that help veterans with real issues but the most impactful is to use your right to make your voice heard.”

The second:

“If you want to thank a veteran, be considerate, be genuine, and be willing to listen or have a conversation. Dr. Sherman suggests simple alternatives that may actually contribute to repairing the military-civilian gap. If the service member appears to be willing and able to talk with you, you should invite a respectful conversation.

“‘I am grateful for your service. Where were you deployed? What was it like?’

“You might also ask: How is your transition back home so far? What is/was your job in the military? How is your family doing with your service? What do you want to do now that you’re back?”

I must say that I would personally be very uncomfortable with doing this latter thing, for reasons stated in the article. “It’s also true that many [vets] do have physical and emotional scars or moral wounds as a result of their service and are dealing (or not) with lingering feelings of guilt, shame, or helplessness, among others.”

So I’ll probably do what I’ve been doing all along, which is giving the knowing head nod, hoping that’s it’s adequate, at least for the moment.

disabledveteranI was reading this article in CharityWatch, Multiple Names + Exaggerated Programs = Two Related Charities, But Little Help for Vets or Cancer Relief. Ticked me off.

“Help the Vets (HTV) and Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation (BCOF) are two relatively new charities that share the same address and phone number, as well as the same family members in leadership positions, including president. But of more concern to donors should be another shared trait between HTV and BCOF — the likelihood that most donations will go towards paying for-profit, professional fundraisers rather than for helping veterans or cancer sufferers.”
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above-the-dreamless-dead-1I was reading about World War I trench poetry remembered in comics anthology, and it hit me how relatively little most Americans know about the first World War (1914-1918), the “War to end all wars,” as someone put it, terribly incorrectly.

And it’s not its remoteness in time Read the rest of this entry »

Reading this somewhat self-serving history of the Department of Labor during and after World War II: “When the war ended, attention shifted to the needs of those returning from war and their families. The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of June 22, 1944—widely known as the G.I. Bill—provided a weekly unemployment allowance, as well as counseling, placement services, education and job training to nearly 10 million veterans between 1944 and 1949.” Taking care of that generation was important to the country.

At the end, or near-end, of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see that
most Americans now believe those conflicts were mistakes. I’m sure battle fatigue was a major factor in people’s opposition to an American incursion into Syria. Yet this is not a reflection of what people felt about soldiers’ bravery, from all reports.

The Veterans Affairs Department is drowning under mountains of paperwork representing services not rendered. During the government shutdown Read the rest of this entry »

Some weeks ago, I was listening to the great 1999 album by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris called Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions. The fifth track on the album was described by the respected website AllMusic.com in this way:

“The album’s best track, ‘1917,’ was written by folk singer David Olney. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else singing this haunting tale of soldiers and women in World War I. Fragile and breathtaking, Harris’ voice is buoyed by the angelic harmonies of Ronstadt and Kate and Anna McGarrigle.”

I always find it extraordinary haunting.
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