Please note: This post was originally published December 2018.
If you’ve ever used social media or watched the news, you’ve probably heard some sort of military stereotype. While some of these stereotypes may be funny or even true, many more are damaging to our military community. It’s a critical time for us to consider how we portray our veterans , service members, and military spouses.
Are we all ticking time bombs or uneducated fools?
Stereotypes are general beliefs about a large group of people and often focus on race, culture, or gender. These beliefs generally are not true. And due to overdramatized Hollywood movies and media, “veteran experiences” tend to be highly negative. Thanks Hurt Locker!
The reality is not all service members are uneducated fools whose only option was the military after high school. Not all veterans are ticking time bombs or damaged goods. All military people are not violent war mongers suffering PTSD. These are just a few negative military stereotypes permeating our culture.
The narrative needs to change.
The negative military stereotypes lead to denial of educational, employment, housing and other opportunities. Veterans and military spouses encounter challenges they should not have to face because of these inaccurate beliefs. This is because the civilian world doesn’t know the truth, in large part because of the media. We are often misunderstood.
We also have to be honest too. Military people aren’t perfect either.
We don’t all live great lives during our service or our after. Some military people do exemplify the negative stereotypes and royally screw it up for others. There are people in our community who bitch too much about military discounts or who expect a free meal. Others disgrace the uniform or ethics they swore to uphold. But this is a very small few.
A majority of veterans are good people doing good things in the world. These are the stories that need to be told.
When we tell the real and accurate stories, attitudes will change towards the military community from civilians, as well as within the military community. When the narrative changes, it will also improve the overall wellness of our veterans.
Sound off about negative military stereotypes!
To help combat negative military stereotypes, speak up!
Whether on social media, in the office or amongst friends, kindly correct people who promote these negative stereotypes. Question their point of view and use facts to help explain the truth. Part of the time it’s just ignorance; some people truly don’t know better, so teach them.
The perspective needs to change and people need to start viewing veterans for who they are — not the generalization of the unhealthy 1% out there.
While change won’t happen overnight, sounding off about the negative military stereotypes will eventually change the mindset of people within your reach and it will grow from there.
Just remember one thing. Never be ugly or aggressive with your own views. Attacking people based on their opinions will never help our cause or yours.