Veteran Outrage Syndrome: Pulling Triggers, Getting “Triggered”

AKA: Why I’ll Be Attacked For Writing This

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman LOSING IT. (Photo: Full Metal Jacket)

How many times have you seen it on Facebook: a solid, factual debate happening when, all of a sudden, a veteran or current military member comes in and invalidates all other arguments solely due to the fact that they served and you didn’t. Better yet, how about somebody sharing a video of the “shocking” treatment a soldier received in some fast food establishment? My personal favorite example was a young Marine last week who took it upon himself to write on the wall of Dunkin’ Donuts to gripe about a 60 cent military discount he wasn’t bequeathed. 60 cents!! By Jove, we should all protest Dunks!!!

… And then where should we turn?

“Starbucks has already pledged to help employ 10,000 refugees, clearly they don’t care about the military either!!!”

These are legitimately the comments of people who have what is becoming jocularly known as “ Veteran Outrage Syndrome,” a disorder where any slight inconvenience to a veteran can become a full blown protest of a business. Facts are thrown to the wayside (facts like Starbucks’ hiring 8,000 of a proposed 10,000 vets) and uninformed emotions take reign. I can’t pretend I’ve never fallen victim to it, I can distinctly remember calling for Tom Cruise’s immediate deployment following some uncouth remarks about the job the military does. The difference between myself and others, however, is that at the time I was a 19 year old grunt who was fueled by caffeine, ibuprofen, and a hate that only a 19 year old team leader could know. Then I grew up.

We legitimately have people that are ready to fly off the handle at the smallest transgression. The last time that I checked, nobody puts on a uniform for a 10% discount from a coffee shop. As far as I can recall, nobody said that you being a veteran gives you a free pass to be an ass to some poor high school kid serving you your food because they didn’t “respect mah service” (a la Eric Cartman). And the claim that your service gives you unique insight into all things Facebook politics? Yes, your deployments are sure to give you a different, perhaps more informed view of what the situation in a lot of terrible places is. Hell, being in the military in any aspect exposes you to things that you never would have dreamt up as a civilian.

The things you have insight on, however, usually don’t include things like international relations and our complicated relationship with “Best Korea” (and if your service did give you that insight into the modern NK regime, I promise I won’t tell anybody you exist) or the price of tea in China.

If you’ve served a day in the military, you’ve probably heard of SME’s (subject matter experts). SME’s stick to their area of expertise and are incredibly proficient in that area. If your area of expertise is Weapons Manipulation, chances are you’re not going to be giving a class on Advanced Comms. Systems. That’s just not how it works.

So why then do you decide that behind a keyboard you’re an expert of all? I’m not discouraging intelligent discourse, in fact I thoroughly encourage it. What I am against, however, is this ignorant attempt to stifle all other opinions solely because of your service. The next time you feel that urge, take a step back and look at the facts presented before you. You may just find that if you have to resort to your DD214 to prove your argument, your argument isn’t that great in the first place.

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