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What Military Service Cost Me

by Richard Bell | Permalink
December 17, 1996

Since being discharged in the late '60s, I have either been unemployed or underemployed. This status has taken an emotional toll which I would not wish on anyone.

On the credit side, I have remained faithfully married, put our only child through an ivy league, and earned a master's. Alcohol and drugs are not a problem -- never have been.

On the debit side, military service cost me both the religious faith and patriotism of my youth. Along the way, I have been called crazy and worse. The name callers are usually ultra conservative and frequently Christian white males who somehow managed to avoid service to their country in uniform. (My less than polite name for these sanctimonious souls is Draft Dodgers for Jesus.)

At least once I have been refused employment because I was a veteran. The needle on my social cynicism meter pegs frequently on the high end of the scale.

On the humorous side, as an older grad student I was once told by a much younger classmate and former paratrooper artillery officer, "You scare the hell out of the professors around here." When I asked why, he responded, "You have real life experiences they only wish they had."

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