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: 1014
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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SGT Philip Adam
SGT Philip Adam
1 mo
First. You served. You put yourself out there. They told me... back when... that for every grunt in the dirt there were 4 or 5 supporting personnel. Each of us who serve are Vets, I deployed many times. I was infantry but I also went to Language school and crypto school. I met all types of Vets. My cousin was a payroll clerk with the 173rd. He was a Vet. My uncle an Air Force Logistics Officer. My grandson is a Marine Aircraft Mechanic. Both Vets. We served our country. So did you. Be proud of that.
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SSG Del Ray
SSG Del Ray
1 mo
I served 21.5 years in the National Guard as an Infantry soldier and a NCO. I at one time tried to go Active and was rejected because of a health issue. Still I served and I did my duty. If they had called, I would have answered. They did not call. If you served it doesn't matter where, what Branch, what your MOS was, or how long. You served!! Do not listen to those who had not the guts or strength to serve. You served and you deserve the honor that comes from serving. God bless you for standing up and saying I'll stand in the gap!!
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ENS John Souders
ENS John Souders
1 mo
Felt the same when questioned by a bitter family member, once. Went on med hold less than six months into training - fought over a year for waiver (all the way to CNO). I told a classmate about my feelings of not having "served" because I was ultimately discharged via a medical board. His answer - "You signed a blank check to the Navy stating that they could cash it for any value up to and including your very life." He then reminded me of classmates who died in training exercises. Just because you did not get to "be all you can be" does not mean you weren't ready, willing, and able to. For the record, I refused any disability offer because I truly was perfectly healthy and still able to serve. There are plenty who truly deserve and need it. Always hoped I'd get a waiver to return. Hold your head high and move along.
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GySgt Jack Wallace
GySgt Jack Wallace
7 d
Col. Oorah***
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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 George G.
SGT George G.
1 mo
Couldn't agree more with you Sgt Jones. Thank you for your service
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1LT Mike Schelp
1LT Mike Schelp
1 mo
MAJ Mark Steskal - and you are STILL a veteran. Did you raise your hand and swear the oath? Did you go where they told you and do what they asked? Did you do this to the best of your ability? You’re a veteran. We don’t tell the service where to send us. They tell us, and that is what “ the needs of the service” means, and THAT is serving our great country.
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SGT Philip Adam
SGT Philip Adam
1 mo
MAJ Mark Steskal - When did you serve Sir? see. Authorization. E.O. 10448, E.O. 12776, and E.O. 13293. b. National Defense Service Medal Eligibility Requirements (1) Honorable active service as a member of the Armed Forces for any of the following periods, all dates inclusive: 27 June 1950 to 28 July 1954; 1 January 1961 to 14 August 1974; 2 August 1990 to 30 November 1995; and 12 September 2001 to a date to be determined. If you served during any of these periods then the Corp. F'd up. I happens. I missed out on a few things because of that. Lol. Took me 3 enlistments to get a Good conduct Medal. I was rated Superior and paid SSP
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Sgt Russ Brayton
Sgt Russ Brayton
27 d
I was told by an Army buddy once, that someone had to keep the home fires burning while he was away in Vietnam, and thanked me for that consideration. If someone ever asks you if you ever killed someone, look them square in the eye and ask them how bad do they want to know… I tell people I was a cook, so…
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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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AN William Pratt
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SPC Medical Specialist
SPC (Join to see)
2 mo
1stSgt Dr. Elizabeth Masaniai, Ed.D. Lynn - I tried to join the Army before the Vietnam War ended around 1973 and they wouldn't let me since I was still in high school, but I was 18 at the time.
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SGT Stan Setliff
SGT Stan Setliff
1 mo
Sarcasum-kinda... The civilan world thinks that service members, all branches, sit around and sleep in the barracks, no training, no Pt, no nothin', till there is a need/war/what ever. Then they take a pill and go to it. So if you were never "used", "you didn't do nothin." I guess I laid around too much. My knees, back and neck are not real cooperative these days.
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1LT Charles Locklear
1LT Charles Locklear
5 d
did the same training and were ready to deploy which is only determined by time and circumstance.
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