Last year I wrote a post about finally admitting that I am a veteran. Not that I was ashamed of it or anything but for me I always have tended to downgrade what I do or have gone through. The fact that I was not in combat somehow seemed to negate what I had done, even when friends and family would say nice things about my service. So though I gave up a chunk of my life for the 1st Gulf War, I looked at it as if my service was on a lower scale than others. Plus I'm not what I'd call a showy person, I'm not the guy you'll see wearing anything that would identify me as veteran nor do I go around talking about my time in the military. I know I did it and so do my loved ones and that's enough for me.
The thing I’ve come to learn after all these years is that service is service. No matter what your job was or the length of time you served nothing can take away the fact that you served. Does this mean that I think that all service members are now equal? No, I still put the combat veterans on a pedestal for what they sacrificed and what so many lost. However now I’ve raised the rest of us veterans to a higher level, not that any other veteran cares a bit about what I thought.
So yesterday for the 2nd year in a row I went out and took advantage of restaurants giving a free meal to veterans. It’s kind of hard for me to believe that it took me so long to get around to it. I mean I got out of the U.S. Army in 1995 and 2012 was the first year I really accepted a free meal? If you knew me at all while I was in college or in the Army you’d know that as a single guy (or separated guy living in the barracks) wherever there was free food I could be found. When you’re not sure where or when you will find your next hot, home cooked meal you took advantage of free food wherever you could find it. And I did that well. At least I've got that going for me.
Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.