What do you see?
I know it’s been awhile. But I had those pesky things called finals. I am proud to say that two more semesters and I will have a sociology degree. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
I have said before that I go to an MMA class every Thursday. The group of veterans that meet is Merging Vets and Players. It’s a great group and a good way to blow off steam. Sometimes I need it and sometimes I’m just there to see if I fit. But a question was asked and I wanted to give my opinion.
What do people see when they see us? When you tell someone you are a veteran, what do you think runs through their minds?
When we were in the military, we were heroes to some. Not in the way of Marcus Luttrell or Chris Kyle but we did our jobs so others could do theirs. We wore the uniform, we had a purpose. We knew what our lives were. They were mapped out for us every day. I loved my time in the military. Yes, I served in two branches. The Army and the Navy. I get asked all the time which is better. The only time I really think about it is in December when the Army/Navy football game is played. Either way in that game I’m a winner. Kidding aside, I would never take back my service. I loved it. I loved my people. When it was ripped from my grasps, I was devastated. I lost it all and I was broken and defeated. Now what was I going to do?
I started school and tried to find out who I was. Now I was just a veteran, fighting my way through the VA to be fixed or just to be treated like I was a person. I lived in the dorms when I started at Dixie State and my roommate told all the girls I was a veteran and they were scared, intimidated. I’m a person and I don’t see myself as that. Sure, I have my demons and I have kept them at bay for a while. The big thing is I still didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere.
I tried out several different veteran groups and it ended in disaster. One of those groups I was heavily involved with and will still send people that way, even though some of the people are not ideal veterans. When it went south with said group, I wanted to kill myself. To them I was just acting out, that I wouldn’t do it. I wanted to, but I thought about my Dad. He still needs me. I have started to mend some of those friendships, but I will still never be the same at some of them betraying me or treating me like shit.
Still what do civilians see when they see a veteran? They see someone who is angry, hurt, broken, defeated, suicidal. And with some of our brothers and sisters giving in to their demons, that is almost true. When you are angry and push the world, the world gets angry with you and pushes back. When we say veteran, some fear us. They think we will blow a fuse at any minute, and some might. But we are so much more that what we portray, we just have to find our way. How do we change their minds? Stop being so angry. Some of you think your entitled. I served my country, a thank you is all I need. When you think you are above everyone, they will think less of you. Come on guys, we are better than that. We are Soldiers, Marines, Sailors. We are the Air Force and even the Coast Guard.
We are so much more than what we are judged to be. I have met some of the best people through Merging Vets and Players. I’m still trying to figure out if I belong there, but these guys are awesome nonetheless.
I’m not saying we all need to go to therapy. I do go, I do need it. Other things work for others. My plea to you is to find a hobby, go to church (some of us need Jesus), just something to throw yourself into and try to remember that we still care about you. We leave the military, but we are still family. I found this class and organization. I also blog, write, yell at my cats, scrapbook. What works for me is what works for me. What works for you works for you.
But you are not alone, and never will be. Even if you don’t feel like you belong, you still have people that care. I would give up a day, week, month just to spend with one of you, just to show you that I care.
Remember to be kind to everyone you meet, you don’t know their struggles or the battles they are fighting. But also know that if you are fighting, you don’t have to fight alone.
I know Merging Vets and Players is only in Las Vegas and Hollywood, but more to come. There are different groups out there, Warrior Pointe, A Warriors Mind, Lift for the 22. Again, you don’t have to join. That is your choice.
But as a survivor of many attempts, countless nights in the hospital (active duty and not), please find something that works for you. Something that helps the pain, the anger, the hurt. We all know the feelings. Some of us are better at hiding it. Once you let that go, you get involved, or find a hobby, or even get a dog, you will find that the world is not out to get us and civilians will understand that we are not what they think we are.
So, tell me what do you see when you look in the mirror? I see a person just trying to find her way in the world. Someone who is proud of all that she has accomplished so far. Someone that despite my flaws, I am learning to love myself. I'm learning to let go of my anger. I hope that is what you will see.