Courage, usually a central word in selling any war story, requires the proper packaging for the American public to pay attention. Even when the story is controversial, like “American Sniper,” if polished properly by the film industry, the movie can be the highest grossing movie of the year.
“I have been waiting at least ten months,” said Al Sionni, a former Marine and two-tour Iraq veteran. Sionni was describing the difficulties he and many other young veterans have encountered with the Lewiston Vet Center in Maine in the past few years.
I have been reading Carl Forsling’s column on Task & Purpose for some time now, and while I don’t agree with some of his opinions, I usually keep that to myself. I could not remain silent after his last rant in which he condescendingly tells service members and veterans to stop hanging out together and go spend more time with civilians. Many people I spoke with asked, why?
“They used this place to shoot the Batman movies,” our shuttle driver replied to the comments about all of the gothic architecture with strong industrial influence. The aging industrial hub of Pittsburgh has revitalized itself, and was alive with activity, vibrant culture on display in many areas. The man drove fast and hard through the city streets, carrying me and my two comrades to the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention at the heart of the cultural center. The juxtaposition of setting and function could not be more striking.
As post-9/11 service members hang up their uniforms, they join a growing community of service members in transition after more than a decade of war. Yet, within this veterans community, there are long-standing gaps between the different generations of veterans who fought in different wars, or served in times of peace. And, unfortunately, a common theme among these generations is the mindset that the previous generation “had it so much harder than today’s military.”
Recent articles have proclaimed the oasis of modern veteran service to be millennial organizations. These organizations may offer grassroots support to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; however, as a recent Army veteran, I found many did not reply when I asked to join or volunteer my services. More importantly, they do not have nearly a century of successful legislative efforts defending veterans’ rights in this nation.