When you run from your issues there are two things that happen, you get winded, and you are further from a solution then you were right on top the problem. Today we pay homage to the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month. Formally known as Armistice Day, today better known as Veteran's day. These are the men and women that have not run from the problem, but rather ran through it, to get at the solution. Currently around one percent of the entire population serves in the United States Military. With us being involved in serious conflict for over a decade there are only a few people that put on the uniform that have not deployed at least once. We are still fighting in Afghanistan and we have US troops all over the globe ready to receive fire and return it with greater care and accuracy.
The world English dictionary defines a veteran as a soldier who has seen considerable active service, to me it is something more. It is a willingness to engage in active service for your nation, its beliefs, ideals, and to defend those beliefs and ideals from enemies both foreign and domestic. I look to the people in the service now, my comrades in arms, and see something some people seem to over look or take for granted. You see as we approach the 11th year, we do not see that fateful 11th hour in sight. This means that all of those sons and daughters that are in boot camp now are not under the delusion that they might not have to deploy. They signed up with the understanding that it is more likely they will be going into harms way. They signed up knowing they where going to have to run at the problem.
What ever reason was theirs for signing up for service, they did this in spite of, if not because of, this imposing task. Now lets look at the courage it takes with this understanding. For many they are just now legally adults. This is the first time they are really leaving home. Throw in the chance of going to war and you get one hell of a mix. To top it off many of them are put in the charge of people that are equal too or exceed myself in their ability to perform as a total asshole. That takes more then courage, it takes a unrecognized level of dedication.
They start this journey not with the warm embrace of a parent, or supportive words of a sibling. Rather are shocked into this world of the elite with the anger filled screams of the Drill Instructor, Drill Sergeant, or the infamous brown round. These are men and women trained to push each recruit to the breaking point and beyond so they can take the pieces left behind and rebuild them into a Soldier, Sailor, Airmen, or Marine. The sacrifice starts there, with sense of self offered on the altar of freedom.
Many people forget that those in service forgo many of the very same Constitutional rights they are sworn to defend. So this starts long before the first shot is ever fired. They are subjected to verbal abuse as their bodies are pushed to the point of failure, and then two steps more. They miss birthdays, Thanksgiving dinners, and so many other things people take for granted. They do this even when their government threatens to not pay them, their budgets are cut, and people chastise them. They do this when everyone around them accuses them of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So yes I like to berate the latest FNG that is thrown in front of me because that snot nosed little shit might not know the ins and outs of how the military really works. It is my job to teach them how to conduct themselves in a manner that they can not only do their job but do it well with out getting killed. I am not here to be their friend. So while I will beat them into a shape better to serve our country, I do not consider their feelings in this process. In this though I still respect them for the choices they made. I respect them for the actions that put them in front of me. I thank them for their sacrifice, and I honor all those that came before me by doing my best to prepare them from that inevitable conflict that will season them into veterans.