As a veteran and retired Navy Senior Chief, wearing a t-shirt celebrating Navy Chiefs is a point of pride, even in San Diego with a large population of veterans, Active Duty and families with members of the military in them.
While shopping at a Lowes Saturday afternoon, a gentleman thanked me for my service and we chatted as two veterans are likely to do. Gene’s service as a Comms Officer at SECOND Fleet, the commander of all afloat naval forces in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean, occurred at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
That was almost fifty-six years ago. In six decades, millions of American (and a number of foreign-born) men and women have served or continue to serve in the armed forces. Travel, learning self-discipline, gaining a better perspective on many topics, and useful work-related skills. Many took advantage of the college benefits to become very skilled professionals in everything from agriculture to zoology.
And yet for many who have served in combat, in combat zones, or even when injured in training or other military-related periods, there has been sixty years of failure to live up to promises by the Government. Mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness, and incarceration plague veterans who have served honorably but became only statistics. And with every election cycle, promised of change may cause a stir, but then either never are completely realized, or get the budget axe.
I am one of the fortunate. I have a good post-military career. I have a support system that is independent of the government. And I have good memories of camaraderie, as well as some challenging memories of the bureaucratic foul ups and health issues from military service. With a population that increasingly is self-interested, emotionally-fragile, rigidly opinionated, and in many cases unprincipled, the graying veterans like me may spent more time reminiscing at a Lowes, or a Target, or in the park. You cannot really ever hide the walk, the bearing, or the “USA!” branded clothes and pro-veteran opinions.
On the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is one article for further reading