Do Not Pity Me

Mad Medic tells why you shouldn’t pity him.

You know, I don’t know what is worse about being a Veteran, the idea that people pity me, or that they fear me. Neither is appropriate and yet I get both, sometimes from the same person when I admit to being a Veteran. I can deal with being thanked, it’s awkward, because I really don’t think I’ve done anything more than any EMT, Fireman or Policeman, but even with my usual flippant reply “don’t thank me thank my recruiter”, I always make sure to leave the citizen with the impression that it is appreciated.

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I have to admit, I’m one of those weird guys. Whenever I see a soldier in uniform, I will make it a point to politely thank them for their service. My question to all you vets — does this make you feel uncomfortable? Is there a better way I could approach things?

3 thoughts on “Do Not Pity Me

  1. It’s awkward but appreciated. Occasionally someone will see my Vet plates and stop me at a gas station and thank me for serving. It always catches me off guard, each and every time, but I notice I do stand straighter after it. Don’t stop doing it — there are some soldiers that will never hear thanks and that’s a crying shame. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re appreciated.

    As for Mad Medic talking about pitying or fearing, I agree. As a disabled former Infantryman, I have to play off how I was injured because it affects how people react to me. I dont’ want their pity — I made my choices and I paid a price, and my dignity is greater than their pity.

    When i got a medical discharge and eventually was on unemployment for awhile looking for work, my case worker at the unemployment office helped me with my resume. He was a vet and specialized in helping other vets. The first thing he said was “Don’t put down that you’re Infantry. I was infantry. I know you’re proud of your role, and have no reason at all to be ashamed. But this is a time of war and when people read “infantry”, they get a specific image in their mind. You put down that you were in the military, and you put down skills that would help in the position you are applying for, but leave out your MOS.”

    The moment I did that, I got job offers on all my next mailings. To be fair, the company I was hired by (the first to respond, actually) would have hired me even if I had put down my MOS, but I wonder how many others didn’t or wouldn’t.

  2. When someone finds out I was in and thanks me for my service, I tell them

    “It was a privilege and an honor to serve, so thank you.”

    It WAS an honor, and I am deeply thankful that my country, its people, and our ideals are worth killing and dying for. But it is an ugly business, and often times it is whitewashed and glorified. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the kind words in airports, or the offer to join your family for dinner. You are the reason we do what we do. Many of us are simply uncomfortable being thanked for carrying out such a grim duty. Sometimes it’s hard do the job well, and then turn around and try to resemble the people you do it for.

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