Updated: Feb 17, 2020
"I am not happy about the influence the military has on the public in general. They show the public their discipline and showoffness. On the surface, they respect civilians. But the military is really a cult of elitism; at least, that’s what I saw during my time. They see the public as a bunch of fat, rich people paying mercenaries to fight, which I dislike immensely."
My name is Anonymous and I was an E5 in the Army from 1965-1967. I was drafted straight out of high school and had no motivation to serve. A lot of my relatives served before me; all my aunts and uncles served in World War II.
Military was a huge change for someone who just got out of high school. It was very controlled. I went to Fort Louis for training, then to the Delta region in Vietnam. Most of my deployment was near the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the upper Mekong Delta. I saw a lot of combat. I was with the 25th Military Intelligence, and was a radio/telephone officer for my battalion. My duties included searching villages and maintaining contact with the people, as well as interrogation, which we referred to as “interviewing detainees”
The most memorable event that occurred for me happened as I was approaching the end of my tour of duty. My CO and others offered me recommendations. They were going to recommend me for re-enlistment to train as a counterintelligence agent. The memorable part was where my interpreter saw me with my head in my hands. Interpreter tells me, “You don’t have to do this. I can see this through. You can go home, go to school, and maybe down the road help us all.” Even though I would’ve gotten an immediate pay raise as a 21 year old E6, this sealed the deal for me. Despite having nothing to go back to, I went home.
I got a lot out of my service, but I disliked my service immensely. I can't go to a veterans post and talk about the problems I have with the war because they will defend it like they defend their honor. There is nothing honorable in war. All I got PTSD, which got me interested in psychology, but nothing else. Every one of my interactions abroad put me under high stress. Most people were hanging by a thin thread onto there life. It's amazing what comes out of people in these moments. I will never forget them. However, this inability to forget never allowed me to hold a job. I had trouble holding my anger and overreacting to people.
It’s important to realize that forcing men at a really young age to see such horrors scars them for life. No teenager should ever have to see what I did. One thing to know before enlisting is that the military is a total institution. It holds control over your entire life. They cut you off from your home world as fast and effectively as possible. When you get there, you don't get mail for a few months. After cutting you off, they train you; it takes a lot to convince someone to pull the trigger.This sort of hardening is what causes a lot of veterans to become politically conservative; it causes them to become hyper-vigilant control freaks. What I find ironic is that we all swear an oath to protect the Constitution; most of them have never even read the constitution, some of them never even read a book!
At times, war is necessary, but it should remain a last resort. I am not happy about the influence the military has on the public in general. They show the public their discipline and showoffness. On the surface, they respect civilians. But the military is really a cult of elitism; at least, that’s what I saw during my time. They see the public as a bunch of fat, rich people paying mercenaries to fight, which I dislike immensely.
For the longest time, I didn't think about my service. I’m one of the people that went 18 years without telling anyone about it. Then I started getting nightmares from PTSD. When I’m around a lot of veterans, I talk to them very carefully. I don’t want to stir up trouble, just encourage them to think. Overall, the military was not a good experience for me. When I tried to blend back into society, I noticed businesses ran their corporations like the military model, where your respect depends on your position in the company. One thing I’ve learned is that it always sucks to be middle management. Nobody’s ever happy with what you are doing. I lost a lot of jobs trying to tell people what they were doing wasn’t right.
There's a lot that the government can do to provide for veterans. The first thing is healthcare. I’m not the happiest when I come here; I come because it's the only place I can go. It doesn’t help the general mistrust there is between the civilian and military populations. I have a few African American friends. One thing I've noticed is that when they have parties, they only invite African Americans, with a few white folk like myself. Same goes for Caucasians; they only invite Caucasian's and a few people of color. It's the same with society; veterans only mingle with veterans, with a few civilians that are either family or have some sort of history. Each side always keeps to themselves, and that’s not how society should be.