At the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we were on a Concept 2 rowing machine, and thinking about the VA. It’s a tossup which one produced more heat and perspiration.
We never went to the VA much and quit going entirely because of something they do. Might have to reevaluate that — with individual insurance, we’ve seen our health care zeroed out by the Affordable Care Act (we can pay more, but can’t see any of our physicians any more, and have to drive by the good local hospital to go to the gang of barbers 40 minutes away, best known for giving 59 people hepatitis recently. But hey, 50 of them didn’t die, there is that). And the VA has sent out a form letter indicating that they still love us, even after the rest of the Government and their spawn, the insurance companies, have cut us loose. But you can’t get through any kind of treatment at VA without a grilling designed to declare you a PTSD sufferer.
Don’t have PTSD, sorry.
But they want you to have PTSD: there’s more money for everybody, and “free” money for you, if you just improve your story a little. You gotta be twaumatized. So we’re seeing this epidemic of snivelers riding the disability-payment con, because the Government all but pushes them into it.
“Sorry, don’t have PTSD.”
“Ah… the ones in denial are the hardest PTSD cases.”
Did you hear the one about the vet who went postal because everyone insisted he must be going postal?
There was the girl who wrote about her traumatic experiences in, we are not making this up, Glamour magazine. Why’s she twaumatized? Bad meals on her base, “soggy meat and dry vegetables,” or maybe it was the other way around. Her job: an Air Force public-relations dolly. (Although, in all fairness, she did accept an assignment to a PRT, an assignment that carried with it the “risk of exposure to enemy fire” — a phrase the AIr Force used to use in the Vietnam War to give valor awards to chair pilots who rode a jump seat on a single milk run. Sure they didn’t get shot at, but a certain kind of rear-echelon chair warmer deserves a Silver Star — or a lifetime disability pension — for doing what the line pilots/grunts/operators do every day).
Chris Hernandez wrote several posts about — or maybe, inspired by — that preening phony (at least one and two and three), and got crucified for it, but he was right and we’d go further — she’s a bum and an embarrassment to veterans.
Then there’s the guys that milk their vet status for life, either as politicians (many of whom turn out to be phonies, like Tom Harkin, who was not a Vietnam pilot, Dick Blumenthal, who was not a Vietnam Marine, and Wes Cooley, who was not a Korean War Special Operations guy) or as drunk, drugged bums in the streets. Kurt Schlichter at Townhall clearly shares our irritation at these crumbs:
But the “professional vets” you see demanding handouts are, at best, exploiting their long-ago service. Just because you served doesn’t necessarily indicate that you will forever demonstrate the kind of character and self-respect that the military demanded you show when on duty. It’s not a free pass for the rest of your life – in fact, fellow vets expect more from you. We expect you to live up to the example of the overwhelming majority of veterans who came home, hung up our uniforms and went about building families and careers.
Of course, that assumes that all of the people out there claiming to be veterans actually are veterans. My police pals inform me that the only uniform most of these frauds have ever worn is an orange jumpsuit. A vet can always tell a fake – asking for a DD 214 and getting a blank stare back is usually a pretty good tip-off.
We don’t think it’s a partisan political thing the way Kurt clearly does. A lot of people across the political spectrum can’t resist kicking their foot up on a locker-box and telling a made-up story, and the political phonies we named above come from both parties. The Left loves the victim-soldier narrative, but plenty of people on the Right can’t resist the siren song of victimhood and cash.
Like Chris Hernandez’s Glamour girl; her politics aren’t readily apparent, but her self-serving attempt to cash in is.
Or the chick that was in Parade magazine (the thing that comes with your newspaper) this past weekend. She had 7 rows of ribbons (but overseas bars for one tour). George S. Patton had two, and unlike this whiny girl, he did a thing or two. Her function: she was an Army PR dolly, writing hometown press releases from her desk in a secure FOB, and also a mail clerk. As the fictional Sergeant Major Choozhoo, USMC might say: “A much under-appreciated field of endeavor.” But her FOB occasionally took a rocket so she’s twaumatized.
Oh, and she was subjected to sexual harassment. (Meaning, as a female fobbit in the 60:1 male:female fobbit environment, she was hit on. Any woman without gross physical deformities is going to be hit on, and all of them have been, and none of them are claiming PTSD). And old meanies that were are, we’ve probably set her bogus “recovery” from her nonexistent “illness” back (and kicked her disability rating up another 10%, cha-chingg!) by pointing out she’s just another kind of preening phony.
Let’s go first person singular for a moment here. Years ago, on a first visit to the VA, there were two groups — old WWII and Korea vets, many of whom seemed to be suffering the normal ailments of age, and younger guys… who didn’t seem to have anything wrong with them. A “facilitator” steered me into a “rap session.” (Honest, this was the 90s, not the 70s, but the time-capsule effect was so complete that the guy even looked like Meathead from All in the Family). There were four of five guys there and the “facilitator” said I’d be sure to get along with them because they were all Special Operations vets also.
There were five or so guys, scroungy to the eye and evident to the nose. None would meet your eye. The “SF” guy explained he didn’t go to the Q-course, he got OJT because he had so many confirmed kills that SF traded for him. The “SEAL” told a bloodcurdling POW rescue story that was awfully familiar, because it came from a Chuck Norris MIA movie.
“There was never a successful rescue of a US POW in Vietnam,” I said mildly. “Many attempts, and some successful rescues of ARVN prisoners, and early in the war, some releases and escapes. But there was no successful rescue.”
You might have heard a few papers shuffle as the phonies all looked at their shoes. “Not one,” I added helpfully.
The phony SEAL didn’t challenge me, but the “Facilitator” did. He hustled me out and said, “You must never question a veteran’s experience! He was there, you were not.” But I know the history. The “vet,” if he was a vet — the VA is not all that scrupulous about checking — was somewhere, but he sure as hell wasn’t on a POW rescue that never happened, unless he was an extra on the set of Mission MIA XVIII or something.
Does PTSD really exist? You have to look at its history. It was created by an anti-military shrink named Thomas Lipson as a way to label vets as victims and damaged back during the Vietnam War. Now, war definitely affects people, and that has been written about
One of the best older examinations of psychological casualties is W.H.R. Rivers’s 1917 lecture, Repression of War Experience. It has survived, fortunately, probably because the poet Siegfried Sassoon, himself a psychological casualty, referred to it in one of his haunting war poems. It’s a reminder that the people of 100 years ago were just as bright, logical and caring as any people today; and it’s also a reminder that while war does have an effect on you, true psychological casualties like Rivers’s patients or Sassoon (who was actually one of Rivers’s patients at Craiglockhart) are uncommon.
The difference between PTSD and Rivers’s experience treating disabling repression is this: the claimed universality of PTSD, and the extremely low threshold of “trauma” occasioning it.
Soggy vegetables at the FOB.
Needles to say, the unseemly whinging of people like that Unique and Special Snowflake™ is an insult to all combat vets, most especially to the ones who did suffer disabling injuries — physical or mental.
Grandpa Lt. Paul K. Doyle gets a gong, perhaps aboard seaplane tender USS Hamlin. Image stained by seawater and kamikaze bits.
Ken White at the indispensable Popehat legal blog is not, we think, a veteran, but he remembers his grandfather, who was a support-ship Naval officer. Grandpa Doyle had close calls with the 1945 equivalent of a rocketed FOB, kamikaze attacks, and he had somewhat the opposite approach to the whingy PR gal:
Grandpa got the Bronze Star because he was particularly good at anticipating aviation supply shortages and finding creative solutions to them. Grandma says that if you found out, and asked him what he had done, he would say, “Oh, I don’t remember. Probably won it in a beer drinking contest.”
Thinking of long-gone, but fondly-remembered, Grandpa Doyle gave rise to this insight of Ken’s, about what being a “hero” is:
Today, we should thank veterans for their service. But we should also thank them for their example.
Yeah, resolutely standing up to unappetizing canned tray-pack peas in the FOB DFAC, that’s us.
That brings us to the next thing: ”Thank you for your service.”
Not necessary in our case: we were having an absolute blast, truth be told. Some people appreciate this civil recognition, like Schlichter, who also has some practical advice for you who would thank us.
Citizens often want to reach out to warriors they see in uniform around town or at airports. That’s great. A “Thanks” and a handshake, even a hug, is appropriate.
Now, this will fluster the warriors. The warriors will tell you they are just doing their job, and they mean it. Most warriors are baffled that someone is thanking them because they know so many people they feel truly deserve it. Thank them anyway.
Sometimes a warrior in uniform at a restaurant will find his tab paid when he asks for the check. This happens a lot. If you feel compelled to do it, any senior sergeant or officer will tell you to save that for the younger troops. They get paid less and they do the really hard work.
Some don’t like it, like combat vet corpsman Andrew Tuohy:
When people thank me for my military service, I am put in an awkward and uncomfortable position which I do not like at all. Through conversations with other veterans, I have found that almost all of them dislike being thanked for their service as well.
I know that most people mean well, and think that they are lifting our spirits by thanking us for our service. I know that previous generations of veterans did not receive warm welcomes when they returned home. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful. I would certainly rather feel awkward than ashamed.
It’s just that the guys I have spoken to all say the same thing – we didn’t join the military so that we would be thanked for it ten years later. Even when it’s obviously sincere, it leaves us unsure of what to say.
… I simply want to be left alone. In the abstract I can appreciate the thought when it is genuine, but please don’t thank me for my service.
Here at WeaponsMan, we’ve come to realize that it’s not about us but it’s about the person saying it to us. That bugs some folks, and may be at the root of the discomfort Andrew feels — we dunno. We’ve come to accept it with what we hope is good grace.
It’s a problem when someone is serious and maudlin and expresses regret that he did not serve. We have a good answer for that: it’s not for everybody, and our Army (etc) only works as well as it does because it’s backed by a very strong economic and scientific foundation. Frankly, if you do (or did) something someone thinks is worth paying you for, you’re part of the shaft of the spear whether your realize it or not. And we thank you.
So those are the thoughts of just one veteran on this Veteran’s Day, leavened by a couple of other posts he found interesting. (By all means, read Schlichter’s ad Tuohy’s posts, as well as Ken’s, in their entirety, if you’re not Veterans’ Day’d out). And just to put our puny wars in proportion, we’d direct your attention to Tam’s post on the occasion, explaining to the historically challenged why we celebrate the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and to the rest of you why her virtual corner of Indiana ought to be a regular stop on your Net peregrinations.