Depending on where you fall on the veteran and military experience scale, you might take umbrage with the idea of civilians pitying you. The reality is, as Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, make in their article, if we want to help veterans, we as a country need to stop pitying them as a whole. Sure there are men and women who come back banged up, who need our empathy and support. Sure moving from combat to civilian life can be difficult. But pitying those of us who served isn’t helpful.
The problem is, how do we define “pitying veterans”? Some might make the contention that creating special parking spaces for veterans is pitying them.
Do civilians consider these veteran parking spots more akin to parking spots for managers or more akin to parking spots for pregnant women?
Others might consider thinking of veterans as “diversity candidates” for jobs as pitying them. Regardless of the specifics, most of us know that this pity exists. The question is, why should we care and what can we do about it?
“But pity isn’t a sustainable strategy. A better recognition of the overall veteran experience — the bad, the good and everything in between — is essential to forging a lasting compact between those who have served and the rest of us.”
Yet the deep-seated doubt that I and many other veterans have is in the ability for civilians to understand the “veteran experience”, our experience. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to build a bridge, it just means that along with building a bridge, we should be sending over some beach landing crafts, helicopters, and C-130s to hold a beachhead on the civilians’ shores.