Everyone joins the military to get something out of it, but not everyone knows what that something is. We all know that guy who enlisted because he was bored and, like, played Call of Duty once. Derek Weida wasn’t that guy. When, at the age of 17, Weida joined the Army, he knew exactly what he wanted: to serve on the front lines as an infantryman. That was his dream. And over the course of three combat deployments with the 82nd Airborne, he lived it. Then, during a night raid in Baghdad in 2007, an insurgent’s bullet ripped through his knee.
Derek Weida, founder of Straight Legless Clothing, doesn’t speak for all veterans, but he does speak for a certain type. His audience is largely shared by a growing number of military-oriented companies, organizations, and blogs that celebrate, rather than lament, the experience of being a veteran in post-9/11 America. It’s an audience that could be described, bluntly and without risk of causing offense, as a bunch of unapologetic grunts.