Be forewarned. I am not in a good mood today. It is Veteran’s Day and I’m at work. Ton’s of people, who are not Veteran’s are off. Personally, I think if you didn’t serve your country, you shouldn’t have the day off. My opinion.
I am a Veteran of the United States Army and feel that I (and others like me), don’t count.
I served my country starting in the early 1980’s. After Viet Nam and before Gulf War 1 & 2. I served during the “Cold War.” Not a “real” war so to speak. There are many of us from this time frame and we just don’t count. We’re not “special” like those from Viet Nam or the Gulf Wars. I am not disparaging the vet’s from either of those wars – it’s just our war wasn’t “real” to most folks, there was no body count to look at, the “cold war” was not in our living rooms during dinner time (Viet Nam comes to mind here), there were not protests for the “cold war.” It just was something that was.
Interestingly, when the first Gulf War started, they were short on people. I was on the Inactive Reserve List (my contract with the military was still valid, even though I was no longer on Active Duty or in the Reserves). I received a call and was told that there was a real possibility that the Mr and I could be called back into active duty and we were to be prepared. We were not called, but we were prepared to go if needed.
Let me tell you about my time in the “cold war.”
I was first stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Nice place, lots of field duty. We had the 2/75th Rangers at this Post. Great bunch of guys. Fort Lewis was a party compared to where I went next. Hanau Germany. Erlensee actually.
Germany was awesome. I met the Mr there (he was stationed there, he is not German). I was able to travel all over Europe for very little, was introduced to some of the best food and drink and I absolutely loved it. All whilst checking under the seat of my car, daily, for bombs.
You see, whilst there was no “war” going on, we were the objects for terrorists to kill. The “Red Army Faction” was alive and well, killing our military folks. They did it right there in Frankfurt, they set off bombs in front of my Company, and all over where there were US military folks. They kidnapped a General in Italy (January 1982) and released him after a month or so in captivity. But not before they showed pictures of him, bound and gagged – to prove they had him and that they could do this without being noticed. They acted as plumbers to enter his home. They terrorized us in Germany and in Italy. This by the way, was not the “Baader-Meinhof” group, this was the 2nd or 3rd iteration of what they had created.
We lived “on the economy” which means we lived off post. We were big targets – a lot of military living in the same place will do that. Every morning before we put the keys into the ignition of our cars, we would look underneath and all around for bombs. We would tentatively unlock the car and then look under the driver and passenger seats — again for bombs. You would hold your breath every time you sat down or started your vehicle. When we would get to the entrance of our Post (in Erlensee), we would be stopped. We would have to exit the car and let the MP’s search the trunk, underneath with their mirrors and inside. We were in uniform and had to prove we were military. They were doing their jobs, we were doing ours.
During this time, I had a very high security clearance. This clearance prohibited me from visiting some places in Communist Germany (the “East”) such as Berlin. I was a target – for information I did not have. Even though I knew nothing, I was a target. I was finally able to visit Fulda after I left the military.
I know what it is like to be a target and to live under the threat of terrorism. I know what it is like to worry if my car, home or jobsite will blow up, if we will be killed. I know what it is like to get up at 2:00 a.m. for an alert and drive hours to an unknown village and stay there for a few days or a week. I do know some of the fear.
I do not have the education benefit. I can not claim veteran’s preference since I did not serve in Viet Nam or either of the Gulf Wars. I can however, buy a house with no money down (I think) and use VA hospitals if I desire.
Overheard in my new office today (by my new co-workers): I wonder what the veteran’s who have the day off are doing? Oh, probably the same thing they were doing whilst serving… partying. Really? It was all I could do to not yell at them for their ignorant statement.
On the train that I take, there were probably 25 passengers riding today. Normally, there are close to 300 before we arrive at Sacramento. I know of 2 people personally who are veterans. I’m guessing that most of the folks who are off today are not. I wish I was off today. I have never had Veteran’s Day off.
From one Veteran to all others, past and present, thank you for your service. I appreciate it very much.