There’s something special about the patriotic enthusiasm that the United States shows to our military veterans. How many times have we been choked up at the standing ovations given to our heroes at professional sports games or the gratitude expressed to veterans in their uniforms? It’s one of several veteran privileges bestowed upon those who served and it’s incredible.
As much as this gesture is appreciated and respected, we’ve sometimes wondered what privileges are really owed to veterans? Or is there a place where veteran privileges begin or where do they end? We pose these challenging questions because of some of our observations where veterans lament they are owed something.
The largest military community who has the best argument for privileges are our Vietnam Veterans. Most of these men and women returned to the United States with no gratitude for their service or sacrifices made. They endured horrific treatment by the country they were drafted by or pledged to protect.
Vietnam Veterans have a right to be disappointed. For the most part, veterans before and after that era have been welcomed with open arms and been provided with privileges the Vietnam Vets didn’t receive. Yet even with this sad history, we have to look at the questions above in a much larger lens.
What Veteran privileges are really owed?
If we can be honest, aside from the benefits that the government promised to each and every service member, veterans really are owed nothing. This might be an unsettling statement to some but the reality is that the civilian world never promised our veterans any privileges. It’s never been publicly and officially declared that military veterans shall receive any special treatment or benefits for their service.
Our military community must understand that most of us volunteered for duty. We weren’t likely coerced into signing our enlistment. We chose to do what so very few have the courage to do. Knowing that and appreciating that fact IS our reward. Veteran privileges aren’t the prize.
It’s humbling that businesses are willing to give any discounts to those of us who served. It’s amazing that civilians would want to donate their time, money, or resources to help veterans in need. It’s appreciated when a child expresses their admiration for people in military uniforms. However it’s not required and we should be thankful for these veteran privileges!
We believe that the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces should be respected for their sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean everyone in this country will do that. We must accept that. We must also realize that not every company will give us something for our military service and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Veterans who feel they are wronged must stand above the ideal of veteran privilege. They must fight against the temptation to complain about anything “owed” to them outside of what the military or VA has promised. If we don’t, we will damage our veteran brand and cause civilians to see us in a negative way, and this will harm all of us.
Embrace what is given and embrace what is not.