Six weeks ago I moved to New York to become the managing editor of Task & Purpose. I’m sure many people can attest to the electric feeling that one only feels during their first few months in this city — when you love your job, your colleagues, the city, and anything seems possible. Yes, folks, I am in the honeymoon phase.
However, one thing that has been raining on my parade lately is a conversation I keep having with friends and peers outside the military and policy circles that Task & Purpose caters to. It goes something like this:
“So what do you do?” someone will ask.
“I run a news and culture site for the veterans and military community,” I reply
“Were you in the military before?”
And then they say, “Wow, that is so noble and good of you.”
At first this comment surprised me, then confused me, and now it irritates me. I am a communications professional and while I’ve always tip-toed around the journalism industry, this is my first job writing and editing full-time. I am new to the game, but I am still pretty sure managing editors at news and culture fashion publications are not revered as noble. In fact, I imagine very few people who went into journalism did it for the nobility (although they certainly didn’t go into it for the pay).
So why is it that because my publication focuses on the military I am suddenly put on a pedestal by my peers?
I do not consider myself someone who possesses higher moral ideals than others, however, I do consider myself someone paying attention to what is going on in this country. I pay attention to the 2.7 million veterans coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the 18 million veterans who fought in previous wars, and are shaping the future of the United States in every industry imaginable. I pay attention to the $6 trillion taxpayers have dished out to pay for two wars in the last decade, as well as the medical care needed to treat the Americans who fought those wars. I pay attention to the scandal that has erupted because even though we’ve paid hundreds of millions of dollars toward the care of our service members, they are still being neglected and mistreated by broken government processes and bureaucracy. I pay attention because every one of the 21 million veterans in this country have in some way contributed to making sure I get to live my magical life in New York City — my attention is the least that they deserve.
If that makes me noble, what does that make everyone else?