Saturday, November 6, 2010

Veteran Entitlement Mentality

Veteran Entitlement Mentality
Greg Johnson, USMC (Ret.)

I received a response about the issue of veterans’ sense of entitlement— entitlements, in this case, that go beyond what our government appropriately offers. It appears some veterans have expectations that the world owes them (e.g. free meals, state bonus, etc). In my response to that particular response I recalled an incident awhile back I had at a local barber shop. I’m going to be a little vague about the particular service represented because these anal orifice types come in all flavors (USA, USN, USMC, USAF, and USCG). A jerk is a jerk. No particular service is immune from having them!

Four or more years ago I was in a local barber shop waiting (among seven others) to get my ears lowered. Two other gents were already in the process of getting their hair cut. A very young military captain (in flight suit) came into the shop and did a quick terrain analysis. This must have been his first time at the place. I believe the captain was on the staff of one of the ROTC units at the university where I now work. We don’t have a local military flying unit, so the sight of such of an individual in a flight suite was a bit surprising.

Obviously in a hurry [like several of us] this young man asked if he could get “head-of-the-line” privileges. The barber said “Sorry”. The next comment out of the captain’s lips was a rather glib: “Well, so much for giving a veteran a break!”

At that juncture, I slowly rose out of my chair, approached the captain, and calmly asked (for all to hear I might add): “What did you say about being a veteran?” Without letting him answer I then pointed to three others in the room (whom I knew) and said: “Son, that man over there is a VETERAN who served at Guadalcanal. And that man over there is a VETERAN who served in the Army during the Korean War. And that gent over there is former Air Force rescue helicopter door gunner who served in Vietnam.”

Pointing to one of the other barbers I continued: “That barber is a Marine veteran, as am I—a 20-year career Marine Corps aviator!” I continued… “With the obvious exception of me, these are all very brave VETERANS! I seriously doubt you have experienced a fraction of what these particular veterans endured in combat; therefore don’t flatter yourself by trying to inflict your cocky self-absorbed snobbish BS ‘VETERAN STATUS’ on us!

Further, I respectfully suggest you DON’T bring up your veteran status for personal gain again in public, especially when you are in a uniform, which (in your particular case) I might add would be prohibited to wear in public by the Marine Corps! Have a seat and wait your turn like the rest. And oh, by the way: ‘Officers eat last!’”

With that our intrepid aviator declined the invitation to join us and promptly departed off into the wild blue yonder, wearing his unusually well-fitted gray-green poopy suit. He was never to be seen at that particular barber shop again! As we watched him drive off, I am guessing he was still trying to figure out that “Officers eat last” comment.

The mostly elderly gents, patiently waiting their turn in the barber shop that day, dropped their heads slowly as the captain departed, shaking their silver domes of hair from side-to-side in amusement. Score one for the Marine that day!

It would appear that youth is still sometimes squandered on the young. As a friend of mine, who I shared this little tale with, correctly stated: “This had nothing to do with uniform, or service— just one self-serving jackass.”



  1. I would never demand special treatment or discount because I am a veteran. I do occasionally ask if the business offers a military or veteran's discount, and if so I take advantage of it. I recently saved over $100 at a national home improvement store because of their 10% discount. Had I not asked, they would not have asked either, even though I was wearing clothing that identified me as a Marine Vietnam veteran.


  2. The people I have the most profound respect for always turn out to be veterans who never say a word unless asked and never have any expectations that their veteran status will come with any special perks. My brother is one of them.

    Some of the other folks I know, like the young officer, are quite the opposite. They could stand to learn a lesson.

  3. Officers eat last! was the title of my very first blog post back in September of 2008. I had learn that rule from my USAF ROTC training officers. At that time there was not yet an Air Force Academy. My training officers had transferred from the Marine Corps in order to train Air Force cadets. Their training must have had a major impact on me because years later when I entered an APG on-post barber shop as a civilian asking if I was able to get my hair cut, the man in the barber chair said, "Sit down Marine, you're next." The man in the chair happened to be General Walt, former Commandant of the Marine Corps.

  4. Mr. Cummings offered a good story but a point of order--General Lewis W. Walt was never commandant. He was the 12th Asst Commandant of the Marine Corps serving from 01 Jan 68 - 29 Jan 71.

  5. I served in Marine green for seven years. As it happens, that time was all peaceful and I was never subject to going into harm's way. But be that as it may - the thought has never crossed my mind that I am owed anything by anyone. I joined and served because I wanted to, not in expectation of benefit one.

  6. I am unfortunately seeing a very large amount of this behavior in the below 80y/o Veteran population and their families. It is inappropriate and embarassing.

  7. old veterans who are in the old fart age bracket are disrespectful to the general population and they have a bad sense of entitlement. i was woken up at 6 AM in my hotel room because of 2 really really old veterans talking loudly in their bellowing entitled deep voices, and they would not shut up, and they ignored me when i asked them to be quiet and instead began talking about their veteran status. i am a civilian, and i do not care if they were paid babykillers. albert einstein said "the pioneers of a warless world are the youth who refuse military service". i hate entitled old veterans that think they are exempt from being rude weak hearted douche bags.

  8. Anyone serving has the right to request a privilege and it needs to be respected by all, especially, by those who have served. That young officer might be the next young man to sacrifice his life for your freedom. You have disgraced the uniform you wore with your comments. Semper Fi.

    1. He made the choice to enlist...he isn't entitled to a damn thing.