Veteran isn’t spelled V.I.C.T.I.M.

Your author in Afghanistan with some Pashtun kids, circa 2005.

Read that again, it’s V.E.T.E.R.A.N. not V.I.C.T.I.M.

I went to an extremely liberal college and majored in writing. I wrote about the war. A lot. I wrote about friends last breaths, unfortunate shooting incidents, and returning home not knowing where my place was. And every time I wrote, I would get several people who would say something along the lines of:

“I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

This is the progressive mindset. You, as veteran, are a victim of circumstance. You were somehow duped into military service, and the evil government lied to you and forced you to commit atrocities in their name and it’s not your fault.

This upsets me to no end. When you view the veteran as a victim, you take away their agency as a human being. You take away the hard work, the discipline, the passion for love of country and Corps, the brotherly love between warriors, the humanitarian missions, the tears from losing your best friends, then saddling up and taking the fight back to the enemy before the medevac is wheels up. You take away the fact that they wrote the government a blank check, up to and including their life, in order to protect this great country. You ignore that the harsh judgment of their military service is allowed only under the umbrella of freedom provided by it. You ignore the burden of war that they took on in order for you to live a peaceful life, and to share the greatness of the United States of America. The freedom of choice.

We made the choice. We all carried a rifle. We went on patrols with $4.2 million dollar Abrams tanks. We marched a squad of infantry Marines on hundreds of miles of patrols with F/A-18’s, B-52’s, P-3 observer aircraft, and Predator drones overhead, and carried the latest in night vision technology, satellite communications, and ran the highest infantry tactics. We ran medical capability missions, setting security in small villages in isolated pockets of Afghanistan that didn’t have any government, any security, any fresh water. We played soccer with kids, gave out incredible amounts of chocolate and handheld radios, and we ran the war on the ground with our hearts, our minds, and compassion. We suffered through the hardest times of our lives trying to build something greater for those less fortunate. And many sacrificed all that they had to give. Are they victims, too?

The war didn’t happen to me. I was an architect of it. And I’m proud of my service.

6 Comments

  1. Mark,
    I agree with you except on one point. people who have never had your experience see you as a person. They do not know anything about your experiences. they are just being kind- or trying to be. give them a break and gently educate them, but do not fault them for their compassion.
    Have a great day
    kimberlie

    • I don’t fault people for their compassion, but when most veterans are visibly disturbed when someone says “thank you for your service,” or “I’m sorry that happened to you,” then compassion is not an affirmative defense for ignoring their response or actually asking the veteran how they feel instead of assuming their service was somehow traumatizing.

      • I understand, however, “Thank You for your service” is what people have been taught to say ( Operation gratitude teaches this as well). They are really just trying to show their support, but do not know how. How would you suggest thanking someone who has put themselves on the line for their country, for other’s families? As you know, I am part of a letter writing campaign to active, wounded, and veteran soldiers. I agree about watching their response and acknowledging it if they become embarrassed.

        • I was asked this by another friend so I wrote a post about it. Just put it up, let me know what you think. I started this site to start talking about war so we can help close the divide. Thanks for reading.

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