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: 1162
COL Vincent Stoneking
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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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LtCol Julio Villalba
LtCol Julio Villalba
1 mo
I deal constantly with people, family members, doctors, psychologists (Civilians) who have no idea what the military is, how it works, sacrifices faced, the responsibilities we had to take on, anxieties we faced, (list goes on) etc. It's not just deployments. I try to explain it every time but they equate our world like it was a regular job working at Walmart or a factory somewhere. They will never get it, deployment or not. So What I always say is something like this as I look them in the eye, "With all due respect, unless you serve you will never understand. Best Analogy is like telling a guy what it's like to be pregnant and give birth, OR a female what it's like to get hit on a men's tackle football team. Unless you are in that situation you will never truly know all the implications of what or who I am. So Yes I'm a veteran!"
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PO1 Helena Janice Ritz
PO1 Helena Janice Ritz
1 mo
You signed on the dotted line. Doing so meant you were willing to sacrifice yourself, including your life, for your country. Turn to that person who questions you and say - "I volunteered to lay down my life, if needed. What have you done for your country and fellow human beings?"
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PO3 James Bobiney
PO3 James Bobiney
1 mo
Very well said, Colonel Vincent Stoneking.
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SSG John C Quigley II
SSG John C Quigley II
1 mo
Thanks Col. Stoneking, good answer. I remember when I got home from France and still got the nasties. I reupped in 77, spent 4 years in 1/1 Cav in Germany we had to be on the Czech border every 3rd month. It was good duty for me as a Supply NCO, during the years of service also got to serve in the Old Guard for a couple of years. Regret that I did not re up in 1983 but that was then this is now. Met my wife in Germany, we have been married 36 years. Look back, no, deal with civilians who do not understand yes. But you know I am happy to be where I am with fellow vets in our American Legion Post. Placed flags on graves today, and we will spend Monday holding a memorial service at our Veteran Cemetery that was started by the VFW, and we now have it.
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Sgt Jay Jones
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Edited >1 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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SGT Richard Hanson
SGT Richard Hanson
3 mo
Thanks for the laugh ;)
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SGT Richard Hanson
SGT Richard Hanson
3 mo
A month after I got to Vietnam SSG Fordyce and SGT Dorsey were in a Jeep coming back to Saigon Port from Tent City C distance of about 5 miles at approx. 1 AM. They got ambushed a quarter of a mile from the Saigon City Limits while a group of ARVN were watching from the bridge they were guarding. The ARVN never fired a shot in their defense or tried to get to them. My question is since their MOS wasn't 11B or something like that, does that make them any less dead? I am slowly dying from Type II Diabetes from exposure to agent Orange. Because my MOS was 71L does that make me any less of a Veteran. We create organizations and build clubs then create rules that limit membership so you can congregate with your own kind, and you push away all others and hang derogatory titles on them like REMF and for what purpose do you do that. Just to make yourselves feel better than those "other guys." If it weren't for those guys in the rear you would have been fighting a war barefoot and naked with sticks and rocks. Then you could have two organizations, 1 for the guys with sticks and 1 for the guys with rocks. Instead of finding ways to segregate ourselves, we better find ways to join together or this country is going down the tube. Good night my brothers and sisters. May God Bless you all.
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SPC Jasen E.
SPC Jasen E.
3 mo
SGT Richard Hanson - Unfortunately, a lot of it is our fault for letting them divide us. I wish people would wake up.
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LTC George Morgan
LTC George Morgan
3 mo
Sgt Jay Jones magnificently said! For your words, and your service, I salute you.
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SFC Processing Nco
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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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SGT Kathy Dean
SGT Kathy Dean
3 mo
This is precisely why I have documented my Military Career on a number of platforms! I do not dialogue a lot about my Military Career to civilians. Nor do I use civilian Healthcare, even though I have EARNED BOTH VA Care AND private provider care.
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MSgt Shop Foreman
MSgt (Join to see)
3 mo
Correction: Everyone that has served in the military during any conflict has assisted in the killing of our enemies. If you was in finance, you kept their pay going so they could perform said functions. Fixed the plumbing for a building, you kept the creature comforts so it to make it more effective for us to kill our enemies. Make IDs for them, who could get to a deployed location without them.
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SCPO Victor Glaviano
SCPO Victor Glaviano
3 mo
I always tell the wise asses I've killed over 200 people bear-handed! That usually shuts them up!

When I 1st came home after my 2nd time in Afghanistan, this lady was really aggravating the piss out of me, I literally got back a day and a half before. So finally after avoiding her question of "what I was it like over there"? I'm thinking lady if you don't want me to make you and you're children cry, you should leave it alone, but eventually I just said "it was interesting", she gave me this loopy look and was dumbfounded, hahaha it worked!
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SrA Jan Hernandez
SrA Jan Hernandez
26 d
PO3 Dalene Witczek Amen, Sister! Now try swallowing that shit when the accusation comes from your own daughter (married to a combat officer in the “real” service—Army—instead of your own branch “Chair” Force). Nearly showed her who went through Boot Camp! A female combat sargeant told me to remember what we all used to say about officer’s wives and that I was the one who made the commitment, not her. Her husband understood, not her.
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