I served four very happy albeit stressful years in the United States Navy. Four of the greatest years of my life. I met scores of amazing people. People with talent, brains, attitudes and ideas from all walks of life from across the globe. Most of them were my shipmates. We were all serving for one reason or another. Some were trying to escape from their past, some were patriotic, some were not really given a choice and some felt serving was the only way out of a miserable life. Me, I was trying to escape, trying to reinvent myself, trying to see the world and lastly, I felt it was my duty as an up and coming citizen of the my country.
I didn’t serve for gratitude. I didn’t serve because it was right. I didn’t serve because someone wanted me to. I served for my own reasons. It’s as simple as that.
Which brings me to recent postings on facebook, twitter, and a fuckton of other websites, newspapers and local news broadcasts. Each one advertising free coffee, free donuts, free meals and discounted consumer goods and services. I avoid these like the plague. I don’t want free anything. I want to pay for what I need and want. But, you know, it goes deeper than that.
You see, I am a lucky vet. I have a house and a family. Two jobs and if I want I could easily get a third. Some vets aren’t so lucky. Some vets struggle with the demons from their service. Demons that have taken a deep rooted hold on their lives. Making them almost completely incapable of holding a job, having a family or even a place to live and food in their stomach.
Men and women who have served in war zones and seen the atrocities one human is willing to bestow upon others in this world with no conscious about the terror they are instilling in the observers. Soldiers and sailors who’ve followed orders from their superiors because that is what they were trained to do. Not fully realizing the future repercussions they will eventually have to face in the mirror.
I feel terrible for these vets. I know I’m not alone in these feelings. However, I don’t think our elected officials do. Cuts to Veterans Affair Benefits, cuts to mental and health care. Endless miles of paperwork and red-tape bog down a system of care that was instilled to help the transfer from military life to civilian life.
Hell, if you’re brave enough do a quick internet search on the care of veterans in our country. It will scare the hell out of you. I know it did me.
Which brings me to my point on this whole blog. I don’t want free or discounted shit from anyone because of my service. Why? Because I can get what I want on my own. Instead, take all that free food, those discounted goods and services and sell them to the regular customers and then… and here is the crazy thought… give all the profits to the men and women who served who are incapable of providing for themselves. Help the ones who served who can’t help themselves. They deserve it more than I do.
After all, I still have all my appendages. I have my mental acuity, which is a bit skewed off of center, but I still have it. I have my will to live and a family who cares more than they should about me. The vets who are homeless, limbless and are broken mentally, need more help than I do.
Hell, I’m sure we pass them every day on the street, or see them in the bars or outside a local convenience store panhandling for change. The change is not for food, nope, it’s for cheap booze that helps quiet the demons screams inside of their heads.
I don’t know how to implement this idea. I wish I did. I wish I were smart enough to be entrepreneurial enough to implement a foundation that would go out and find the broken servicemen and women who need the help of countless dollars and food. But, I’m not. I’m just a Pollack with a thought. A Pollack who served and survived. A Pollack who is part of a brotherhood that helped build this country and is pissed off at how a lot of my brothers and sisters in arms have been treated.
Have a week.