As a child I used to believe in just wars, trusting my elders and being able to isolate evil people in the world. All part of my miseducation, I suppose. I’ve come a long way and now look back at this time as an odd dream. I think back in anger at all that was fed to me through school and elsewhere. This is not to say that I am simply some malcontent.
Perhaps I was shipwrecked, philosophically speaking, but I managed to take in the glorious north with its iced hills shimmering under the low and golden light. On the hike back out I realized that I hadn’t had my heart in the hike. I was hit with a harsh sense of loneliness and nihilism, which the desolate Arctic air only exacerbated. I longed to see my friends back in Denali and to have a few beers, though this time I wouldn’t have any stories to share.
There is much talk about the veteran civilian divide. Indeed, there is plenty separating those from Sparta and those from Babylon—to butcher a pair of historical metaphors—but as a writer, I know there’s plenty they have in common, and one thing in particular: their reaction to writers, negative, as it were.
Veteran privilege. This a phrase that invokes a broad range of reaction depending on who the audience is. From bland nonchalance to foaming mouth religious fervor, the American public’s feelings about veteran privilege runs a gamut of emotions. Does veteran privilege exist? Some people would reason that yes; given the advantages veterans have in obtaining government employment, the almost automatic respect veterans are given, and the retail discounts that many corporations are generous enough to offer military warriors, veteran privilege exists in many forms.
Sometime in early ebruary I first came across the phrase " veteran privilege" in a comment on a Blog Entry -- the location of which now escapes me. I was immediately taken aback because I related it to the current references to the phrase, "white privilege," which apparently means that just being white as opposed to anything else confers, in and of itself, and regardless of any other factors, privilege.
At a recent writing conference in Manhattan, I lunched with a group of other attendees. They were mostly newly retired women; savvy, professionally accomplished New Yorkers now looking to focus on the book they’d always dreamed of writing. We started talking about our work, and I told the women that my writing centers on the Global War on Terror, with a specific focus on the impact the war has had on the homefront to which our warriors return
A transition is defined as movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, or concept to another. For over a year, I have been living this definition. Where is my movement directed? Has my state changed, or if it does, will I fully grasp that it has? Conceptually, what does the label “student veteran” mean to me and to others?
If someone were to ask you to define military service in America, you might conjure up images of tough soldiers and marines running into battle in some far flung country; a navy sailor on a submarine, quietly waiting as an enemy vessel passes close by; a pilot being pushed back into their seat by inhuman amounts of pressure as they conduct close combat maneuvers. What doesn’t come to mind is some 20 something year old Coasty leaning off the back of a john boat trying to take a sample of a sheen as it passes through a small creek off of the Passaic River in New Jersey