I don’t consider myself as having a sheltered life. I also don’t consider myself to have a very un-sheltered life either (there are no antonyms for sheltered that fit). I’ve not seen combat or been in the military, but I’ve been exposed to it all of my life, grown up around it and live in an area that is teeming with Military. I used to (naively) think that there was only Army (and a little Air Force) here at Bragg. I learned quickly when working there that Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) brings Service Members from all branches to train, work and strategize together.
That being said, maybe I am sheltered in some sort of pro-military bubble. I have experienced and seen anti-war protests, but I would challenge that anti-war demonstrations are not not anti- MILITARY, just against whatever current engagement (s) our military is involved in or the idea/idealogy of war itself. I find that organizations and protests that are anti-war are usually very pro-Soldier. They want Service Members and Veterans to be supported, to get the help, money, and benefits they have been promised to them and to be treated humanely. I can definitely stand behind that.
All of this build up to say that I was shocked and stunned when I was at an event in Raleigh (state capital of NC) with others from all over NC last week. We were discussing many various topics, but somehow the conversation led to Veterans and Service Members and why NC has such a high concentration of both. Most people there could only identify Fort Bragg, but I was quick to point out that we also have an Air Force Base (Seymour Johnson), a Marine Base ( Camp Lejune), two Marine Air Stations (Cherry Point and New River), as well as smaller locations such as Sunny Point or Elizabeth City Base.
The others all nodded and someone made the comment “wow, NC really is a military based state, I can see why we’re called a military friendly state” to which another person replied “I should hope not!” I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. She said it quietly and was shaking her head. I felt my temper going up, and then realized this was not the time or place to engage in a debate, and that as much as I might disagree with her, she was entitled to her opinion.
As I sat there analyzing her statement and my reaction (and ignoring what was going on around me) I realized that she probably hasn’t been touched by the military like I have. In my family, you can’t go out to dinner with us, a family get together or similar without the Service Members and Vets outnumbering the civilians. My family aside, living in Fayetteville, I can’t throw a rock without hitting someone that served, serves, or has a family member that serves. I deal with the military on a daily basis. I also deal with disenchanted, broken Service Members and Veterans. You know what? Not one of them has ever uttered an anti-military statement to me. There have been plenty that have been mad at their unit, chain of command, the situation, the war, a specific battle, etc. but no one has ever hated the military (or their branch) outright. Even those that have said in session, out of anger said “I hate the Army” will moments later begin listing all of the good that the Army gave them/caused them to experience. I’m not just talking money and benefits either. The brotherhood, the support is usually the biggest thing they miss when they are out.
I write this as a challenger to anyone that thinks they are anti-military or would be ashamed that their state/work/family was associated with the military. Are you anti-military or anti-military state? Are you anti-war? At the least, are you pro-Service Member?
Don’t drink the kool-aid (or the Haterade, if you will) without really analyzing what you dislike. I promise to not drink the military kool-aid without also being able to analyze and name some things I do disagree with (which I can).
I’ve made it a point not to address all of the recent terrorist killings, police killings and police overuse of power on my blog or social media for the simple fact that I believe that sometimes that can lead to a bigger divide. I will say that I believe that this “all or nothing” mentality is a problem. Not all military is bad, yet it should be questioned. Not all cops are bad, but not all are good either.
As my editors will tell you, summaries/endings are my weak spot, so I will end with this quote, from a famous author.
“Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead is watchword of the wise.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe