Did you know that? Man, I didn’t, and I was in the military for 20 years and I work on an Air Force base. Hey, the military got more days than the blacks! Suck it, February. Military Appreciation Month is not to be confused with Memorial Day (May 26th this year), a day to honor our fallen servicemen and women. Also not to be confused with Veteran’s Day (November 11), on which we honor our servicepeople still alive.
Also not to be confused with military appreciation day with your local sporting team, be they minor league or big league, be they baseball, football, basketball, hockey, rugby, quidditch, or water polo.
Also not to be confused with the military discounts at places like Goodwill, 24 Hour Fitness, Ace Car Rental, Aeropostale, Amtrak, Anna’s Linens, Applebees, AT&T Wireless, Avis, Bass Pro Shops (I need to take advantage of this one), Berklee School of Music, Best Buy, Best Western, Budget Rent A Car, Chevy Fresh Mex, Chick-Fil-A, Cinemark, Costco, Dairy Queen, Dell, Fuddruckers, Geico, Gold’s Gym, Greyhound, Hertz, Hewlett-Packard, Hyatt, KOA, Kohl’s, Legoland, Lowes, Massage Envy…do I have to go on? (No; find the rest here: http://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/) Just about any place you go you can get some sort of militart discount. All you have to do is flash the ID card and ask. Some chain stores don’t have a military discount policy but if you’re persuasive enough you can work something out. I take advatage of this, but not as often as I could or should. But yeah, not to be confused with Military Appreciation Month.
Also not to be confused with the countless organizations dedicated to helping active duty, retired, and former military members. As with the discounts there are a bunch of them out there.
Also not to be confused with the politicians who constantly fellate the military whenever they are in front of a mic but don’t really do much for them otherwise. Note: I refer to the military as them even though I am one of them for life, due to retiring from the Navy. It’s been almost six years since I’ve worn a uniform and with every passing day my time in the military is becoming more of a memory and much much less of what I am. I’m not entirely comfortable with being called a part of the military because that’s just not who I am anymore. I’m proud of my service – although even saying I’m proud of it strikes me as somewhat odd – but it is a thing of the past.
It’s also important to note that these feelings are because I can leave it in the past. I left the military mostly unscathed, aside from the accumulative hearing loss that comes with 20 years in aviation and not wearing the foamies as much as I should have. I know that my feelings about the military reflect my belief and good fortune that I feel the that the military doesn’t owe me anything. I got what I wanted to out of the military and still do, and they got what they wanted out of me. Fair dinkum, as they say in Australia. That also explains why I sometimes feel a bit awkward when I use my retired ID to get a discount and somebody says “thank you for your service.” You’re welcome, but I got a lot out of it too (and will for the rest of my life).
I also understand that many weren’t as fortunate as me and left the military as fucked-up messes. My opinion would probably be a lot different If I was in that situation.
With all that said, back on point: don’t we appreciate the military, perhaps, just a bit too much? Doesn’t it all start to become some sort of theater that makes us no better than the poilticians? I get that there is a lot of genuine appreciation for the military. I also get that there are many things that are horrible and disgusting about how some military and ex-military are treated, and those things need to be addressed. I’m not denying that at all, nor am I attempting to limit anybody’s free speech. I’m just saying…the military isn’t full of heroes. It’s full of the same people you see in your neighborhood, unless you live in Brentwood or something. I’ll use the royal we here and say we (the military) are full of fuck-ups and good people, average people and great people. We have brilliant servicemembers and we have some fucking idiots, and to be honest the scale sometimes seems to be tipped a bit towards the latter. We have thieves and we have people of impeccable character. We’re all over the board. We’re just like anywhere else, except we have our own little club with our own rules, clothes, and lingo. And, we keep people out of our clubhouses with guns and shit. We’re normal people, except that we sometimes do some extraordinary stuff.
With all that in mind: do we really need a military appreciation month? Instead of that, just go find a veteran and thank them. Ladies, take it a step further and flash them (boobs are always appreciated). Men, also feel free to flash, but don’t expect the same results. Volunteer at a veteran’s service. Donate to a military charity. I just don’t think the military needs an entire month, in addition to everything else already in place. We’re not fetish objects; we’re just ordinary average guys and gals. If you appreciate us too much, it starts to feel less genuine.