AM I MORE THAN JUST A WAR VETERAN?
Mel Brooks, Willie Nelson, Ice-T are veterans. I bet many of you didn’t realize that.
A while back, I caught a fantastic American Master documentary on PBS about the career of the comedy legend, Mel Brooks. In hindsight, I’m not surprised that he is a veteran, considering WWII kept quite a few of our country’s men of that certain age occupied in combat. However, after watching a documentary about how his career grew after his time in service, I realized a very important facet of a post military life: we war veterans are more than just veterans.
Many of you will say, “Of course we are! We’re fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, etc.” – but how many of you have actually internalized this fact in terms of your career? I thought this way for years and by the fall of 2014, I will have been separated from the military for three full years. I’ve been asking myself lately, what am I now?
Sure, I will always be a ‘veteran’. But after I watched this documentary, I realized I am more than a ‘veteran’ and I should act as such.
I struggle to find other veterans that stretch their post-military life descriptions outside of the term “veteran”. I’ve started two businesses and have had a successful career as a serial entrepreneur – why have I been saying veteran first and entrepreneur second? It perplexes me and I think that our collective veteran conscious keeps us feeling this way. I find current government and some private sector initiatives for returning veterans unhelpful.
I’ve been observing our current veterans initiatives with trepidation because I feel that we have been backing ourselves into a “I’m a veteran dammit!” corner. I think this potentially makes us, as a group, systemically defensive and protective of what we’ve done because it’s fundamental how we’ve shaped who we are as individuals and we’re afraid to lose this as our foundation.
We don’t want outsiders to tell us to change because we’ve built ourselves a comfortable place of camaraderie and brotherhood and it’s an uncomfortable place outside those protective walls. But isn’t life about growth and challenges? Why stop at our successes that resulted from the military?
There’s more to life than being a veteran.
If we’re not careful, we will collectively become an arrested class of citizens stuck in a post-war mentality by resting on our previous victories.
We are achievers in our careers and personal lives and there’s no reason why we need to limit ourselves to the moniker, “veteran”. Besides, who else is suppose to write the next, Springtime for Hitler? It’s up to us.