Posted on Jan 31, 2015
SPC It Technician/Consultant
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So I have dealt with my fair share of civilians asking me questions like if I went to Afghanistan or Iraq. I never deployed in my 3 years of service, but just over a week ago when someone asked me that and I said "No, I never deployed." He replied with, "How are you even a veteran then? You didn't even serve your country." I just stood there like a deer in headlights because I had no idea how to respond to that. The worst part was that I had this feeling that he was right, and it's been eating me up since.

The last thing I want to do is sound like some kind of princess who can't get up and brush himself off but my question is how do you deal with something like that, how do you respond and more importantly, how can I stop this feeling nagging at me?

Note: Image added by RP staff

Thanks in advance.
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Responses: 871
COL Vincent Stoneking
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866
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So, this may not be terribly politically correct, but....
1. Look deeply into the eyes of this civilian who never volunteered to serve.
2. Ponder deeply all the sacrifices that you were willing to make, which he/she was not.
3. Hold your last f%ck in your cupped palm, remembering that he/she has the ability to be all judge-y because you took your turn standing on the line.
4. Open your hand and let that last f%ck fly away into the sky.
5. Carry on.
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CPO Nate S.
CPO Nate S.
23 d
TSgt Joseph Martines - Love this BTW!!! Forgot to mention that!
People, too frequently forget this check is ONLY cashed with the blood, the sweat and tears of the men and women who give a damn - about giving a damn!
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Sgt Kerry Thurlow
Sgt Kerry Thurlow
21 d
Sir,
Thank you for breaking that down into simple components and actionable items.

Number 4 is the best advice, evah
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SGT James Bower
SGT James Bower
15 d
I served during the Vietnam War, 1970 to 1973. For the longest time I carried guilt because I didn't go to Vietnam. Then one day I realized, I enlisted to serve my country. I went where they told me to go and did what I was told to do. That's what I signed up for. I supported the efforts of my branch. So did you.
Technically I am classified as a Vietnam War veteran, but I always refer to myself as a Vietnam Era veteran as I don't want to take any of the honor from those who served in country. We served, we should be proud we did. I am.
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SP5 Norman McGill
SP5 Norman McGill
10 d
Well said SGT Bower. I agree.
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Sgt Jay Jones
404
404
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Edited 6 y ago
SPC Alexander Ackerman, don't drink the civilian Kool-Aid. Whatever idiot told you that you were not a veteran has never been in the military. ANYONE who is honorably serves in the U.S. Military is a veteran in my eyes. You have a DD-214, that says Honorably Discharged you are just as brave and committed as Marine Sgt Dakota Meyers. You have very little control over your duty station or whether or not you will see combat. I did a tour in the Republic of Vietnam from 1970-1971. I was not actively involved in combat and did not earn a Combat Action Ribbon. Basically, all I have are the "I was there ribbons". That does not make me any less of a Marine than my peers who received Purple Hearts and Silver Stars. It just mean circumstances did not present themselves. Just as in your case, circumstances did not present themselves. However, you do have something to hang your hat on. Unlike your "civilian" friend claims you are not a veteran, YOU went through basic training. YOU took an oath to protect and defend the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. YOU RAISED YOU HAND AND SAID "SO HELP ME GOD" at the end of your swearing in. YOU ARE A VETERAN!!!
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Maj Gail Lofdahl
Maj Gail Lofdahl
1 mo
TSgt Pamela Hoelscher - My husband and I met when we were both active duty. He moved to the reserves and I stayed active duty. When I told the base commander's wife he planned to join the Officers Wives Club (kidding) she suggested he might want to found the Officers Husbands Club. but I told her he wanted to be the only man with 200 women. I thought she was going to have a heart attack!She was one of those old-school colonel's wives who wore her husband's rank.
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TSgt Pamela Hoelscher
TSgt Pamela Hoelscher
1 mo
Maj Gail Lofdahl I met a lot of women like that.
One even complained when they made her close the window curtains after I had been unconscious for a week and light was excruciating.
Happily the medic informed her I was active duty and her husband's rank was NOT hers.
In Panama, RP, my husband AND I were both invited to join the NCI Wives Club, because he was the spouse and I was a women.
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SFC Charles Woods
SFC Charles Woods
1 mo
Just remember during Vietnam there were signs all over Long Binh That told us that Itook 9 support troops to keep one 11B supplied in ths bush.Honorable Discharge = VETERAN.
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Maj Gail Lofdahl
Maj Gail Lofdahl
30 d
TSgt Pamela Hoelscher - It's the "Officer's Spouses' Club" these days.
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SFC Processing Nco
280
280
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You're not a combat veteran. Oh well. You volunteered. If you purposely avoided deployment then yes, you should feel bad. If your unit just didn't go in that time then it's not on you. Look at the other branch's deployments; Kuwait, turkey, manas. You did more than the general public. Even the combat guys deal with this when civilians ask us if we've ever killed anyone. Not everyone kills. Sometimes you're the guy pulling rear security. Civilians don't get it, hence why I don't talk about the military to them.
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PO1 Richard Wilson
PO1 Richard Wilson
1 mo
I am A Nam Vet and to the person who has bad thoughts about not deploying Just think it as you were lucky that you served your country and that is what it is about, It is not what you didn't do it is what you Did, Thank you for your service.
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SPC James Drury
SPC James Drury
1 mo
Answer: A Viet-Era veteran who enlisted in 1963 at 20 years of age. If one considers the age of 17 to be the beginning of 'Adulthood', that means when I was discharged (honorably) at 23 years of age, I'd served 50% of my adult life to and for my Country (USA).
So, Buddy Boy what did you do for your country, Huh?
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SPC Dennis Foley
SPC Dennis Foley
23 d
I am a Vietnam Era Veteran, I was sent to Germany in 1970,and I did carry guilt about not going to Vietnam for a number of years. I ran into a SFC at a Veteran function for helping homeless Veterans. I shared this guilt with him, who asked me three questions, did you go where you were sent, did you do what you were told, and did you get a Honorable Discharge? I said yes to all the questions. He then told me to quit feeling sorry for myself and I have. Best councilor I could have gone to!
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PO1 William Wingate
PO1 William Wingate
21 d
I served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman from 1971 until 1992 When I retired , I enlisted as a 17 year old and volunteered to serve knowing full well I could be sent to Vietnam, I was stationed at the USNH at Camp Pendleton taking care of Marines and Sailors who served in Country. I am proud of my Service and served during several more Armed conflicts without actually being deployed, my last one was when I was assigned as Medical Chief for a Marine Reseve MPCo that was ordered to Active duty For Desert Shield/Desert Storm and again worked behind the scenes so to speak preparing “My Marines” to deploy. So with that said like one of the other writers said if you Served Honorably and have a DD-214, Hold your head up high and Proud, And thanks for serving.
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