This morning, I taped my “Veterans for Obama” sign to my front-door window. I did so to compensate for the fact that some asshole walked all the way up to the front of my house in broad daylight yesterday and stole my Obama yard sign. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure that the lack of signage in my front yard won’t have a substantial impact on Obama’s final vote tally tomorrow.
Though I served in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1992, it took me a while to actually internalize that I am a “veteran.” Part of my inability to identify with that label on any meaningful level was the fact that I did not serve in a combat zone. I was active duty during the first Gulf War, and I am classified as a “Gulf War vet,” but my K-9 partner and I were patrolling a base in the Mojave Desert and doing narcotics searches in New York City, not ducking rounds in the Kuwaiti desert and wondering if we’d make it home.
My father served on the U.S.S. New Jersey during Vietnam. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, one of them a Marine who experienced heavy combat on Iwo Jima. They are the types of men I picture when I think of the word “veteran.”
That said, I have come to embrace my veteran status over the past eight years, largely because of my outrage over the fact that thousands of service members have been getting maimed and slaughtered as the result of a war I strongly opposed from Day One.
Many people who never served like to claim that “opposing the war” is synonymous with “not supporting our troops.” As a former soldier, I can assure you that this line of thinking is complete and utter bullshit.
Supporting our troops means not putting them in harm’s way unless all other options have been exhausted, and getting them out of harm’s way if a group of draft-dodging, chicken-hawk politicians with poor judgement and questionable motives uses them like disposable pawns in a preemptive, mismanaged war that never should have been waged.
I’m looking forward to voting today.