There's No Monopoly on Bravery
No one can deny we have truly found ourselves living in a strange, new world that didn't exist a week, a year, a decade, or even two decades ago. For all the worry that followed the attacks on 9/11/2001, our financial markets recovered fairly quickly and a relatively small population of the nation shouldered the burden of mitigating the nation's physical threats from that point forward. Of course there was a sense of fear which pressed through everyone's crowded brain and took a front-row seat, for a time. The fact is, however, that most people's lives (except Gold Star Families who gave their son, daughter, brother, or sister) continued without much sacrifice. The nation threw their support behind a military who was ready to take on our enemies.
The military has received overwhelming support since that awful day in 2001. I have never had to face someone spitting in my face or calling me something horrible like my veteran brothers that served in Vietnam. People shook my hand at every opportunity while I was in uniform, and still do when they learn I'm a veteran. Unfortunately, I feel this support has instilled a sentiment of entitlement in some service members and veterans. I watch veterans publish videos and rants on social media, incensed anytime an athlete, or actor, or some other public figure receives popular praise for something. They are chocked-full of the same what-about-ism and fairness arguments you'd hear from sibling pleas to parents at some perceived violation of their self-worth. My veteran friends joke about these "Thank me for my service" veterans far more often than I'd like to, because these folks take way too many opportunities to flag themselves for anyone that will listen. And, frankly, they do far more to further isolate veterans and our experiences from the society of which we are a part.
The point of my post is this:
If you are a veteran or service member, and you are thinking of cutting a sweet video in your pick-up signaling for people to shift their focus back to the American Service Member and not the members of our Healthcare system or other civil workers during this worldwide crisis, stop. Don't do it. Don't embarrass the rest of us. We haven't cornered the market on bravery and it's not your turn to be on the front lines.
This is our turn to cheer on the folks who are fighting this fight and to support our society, most of whom are trying to adjust to the same disruption in their lives that so many in the military now find commonplace. Do what you were good at in the military. If you made all your friends laugh when it was hard to, then do that. If you made sure that everyone around you was prepared, then do that. If you were the one that kept others in line and disciplined, then do that. Get your kids to make things like this:
It costs you nothing to show empathy and give encouragement to the other people that make our country great and will keep us going in the face of our most immediate threat. So go do it.