Here’s What Vets Mean When We Say ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’

Community

As I sat in class this evening, I listened to a fellow undergraduate openly compare how the military treats those in its ranks as opposed to how civilians treat veterans, her philosophy being the latter does an unquestioningly far better job.


I was immediately struck by how much I disagreed. Casually mentioning my opinion that in fact the opposite was true, I watched as her expression turned first incredulous, then almost immediately to aggravation as she clearly could not believe that I would hold such a view. We left class before either had a chance to follow up with more questions, but I can hazard a guess as to why she would harbor such a convictions on military culture.

On the face of it, it’s easy to see where many civilians could view military culture as overly harsh and degrading on both the psyche and the body. Take the Infantry, a community I am more than a little familiar with. There is definitely a premium put on physical fitness, but more than that they strive to instill a hard to define characteristic known as ‘toughness’ in soldiers. What is toughness, you ask? A friend once told me he thought the Army’s use of long bouts of pushups, sit-ups and other creative body stress positions was ridiculous. And believe me, senior NCOs can get amazingly creative when the spirit moves them. Informally known as “smoke sessions,” he wondered what was gained by it. In simplest terms, it’s a weeding out process of those who will quit when things go sideways and they are taken out of their comfort zone. Being able to masterfully knock out hundreds of push-ups without breaking a sweat is not the point; finding a soldier’s upper limit is. A large part of it is breaking you down to build you up stronger. It’s about who has the heart and will to adapt and overcome when home is far and you’re cold, wet and miserable. Whoever is still standing at the end earns the respect and responsibility of knowing they can be counted on when it matters. It may seem clumsy or barbaric to the untrained eye, but this is the culture an organization dedicated to the profession of arms requires. War demands it.

So a life in uniform is all about comfort level. Every corner of the military needs people not only to perform during a severe emotional and physical experience, but also to excel. It’s not sadistic, but survival. So how does this relate to the disagreement with my fellow student’s position, specifically the civilian part? Speaking for myself, there has been no shortage of gratitude from people upon coming home, especially in the early years of the wars. And this is fine, but it doesn’t do enough. It may sound harsh, but veterans will gain nothing from handshakes and platitudes. It’s just too easy. Society instinctively wants to embrace us and make us feel, well, comfortable. That is absolutely not what we need, though. We’ve strenuously conditioned ourselves to make our greatest strides while in various degrees of discomfort and I assert that’s what we need now. Don’t buy us a beer and tell us its time to move on; engage us. Get us talking about our experiences and connecting with those we served on a deeper level. Ask the awkward questions and listen to the terrifying answers. Understand us but also make us do the work, the emotional “smoke session,” as it were. We need to exercise those new survival mechanisms. It’s a necessarily rocky road and both sides will constantly want to give up and feel they’ve done all they can. Some will quit on the process and some will not. Through the pain, though, lies a deeper satisfaction; those broken parts will grow stronger. And isn’t that the point?

Daniel Gorman is in the National Guard and a student at Fordham University.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less