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.”