Although I seldom mention it, most of you probably already know that I served in the United States Air Force shortly after the First Gulf War. My active duty service lasted slightly less than four years, after which I was given an honorable discharge. During my enlistment, I was awarded the Southwest Asia Service campaign medal for serving in direct support of Operation Southern Watch.
I never saw anything remotely resembling combat, since my time in Saudi Arabia was after the war itself and before the Khobar Towers bombing. However, according to some definitions, I am a combat vet simply by virtue of having served in the AOR. I have never taken advantage of any of the special preferences for which I am eligible, and it never occurred to me to try to get any sort of disability rating upon discharge.
I am telling you this to qualify (or disqualify, depending on your point of view) the following remarks.
Ms. Johnson served in a support role in theater, but saw no real combat. She managed to have an article written about her time in Afghanistan, and the challenges she has faced since returning home – supposedly without her permission or direct input. Both the article and her blog are linked above. The article hints that she got a disability rating for chronic adjustment disorder, which she calls PTSD-lite. Her stated emotional trauma included soggy vegetables, minimal internet access, and the constant knowledge that something bad could happen at any minute.
So far, I am with Mr. Hernandez. If that is the whole story, and she is collecting permanent disability for it, then she is abusing the system and should be exposed. It doesn’t end there, though.
In an older post about stolen valor, Mr. Hernandez says that honorable peacetime service is more than enough to be proud of. Yet he takes exception when Ms. Johnson expresses gratitude for not having to experience or observe a deadly encounter. He claims to be thankful for all the carnage he has observed, and in which he has participated. He goes on to imply that if you don’t want people actively trying to kill you, then you probably shouldn’t sign up for military service. OK, so he didn’t say that exactly, but pretty close.
I have a huge problem with this. Mr. Hernandez has seen and experienced many things, the least of which I probably couldn’t have handled on my best day. I intentionally took a technical job in what I perceived as the wimpiest military service branch (from a physical standpoint) for which swimming was not a necessary skill. I didn’t want to die for my country, and I took steps to reduce the chances that I would. At the same time, I knew it could happen, and on at least some level, I was OK with that.
There is a huge difference between being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, and actually wanting to be in a situation where there is a high probability of it happening at any moment. Anyone who wants to have people shooting at them and trying to blow them into oblivion is, in my opinion, mentally defective. However, according to the third post on the subject, Mr. Hernandez seems to be of the opinion that those are the real warriors, and the rest of us are “other”.
I don’t think that Mr. Hernandez intended to disparage any of the non-warriors who serve, or who have served, except those who are all about milking the system for everything that they can, when they don’t truly need or deserve it. The way he came across just struck a nerve, and I had to vent. I chose to do so here instead of being an ass in his comments.