The Military Veteran

The Military VeteranBy George “Andy” Anderson, News Review Contributor

I have been asked to write what it is to be a veteran. First I guess it would be helpful to have a definition of a veteran. Google defines the term as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.” Websters dictionary defines it as “a person who served on active duty with the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, for any length of time and at any place and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists or members of the National Guard called to Federal active duty or disabled from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty or while in training status also qualify as a veteran”.

These definitions are fine for the legal minimum requirements to be called a veteran.

As a long serving member of the Armed services, and thirteen years as a teacher of Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp at Burroughs High School, I would like to broaden the definition. First of all the process usually starts out with a young person, usually someone in their late teens or early twenties who for reasons of his or her own have chosen to serve their country. This is not an obligation taken lightly. This young person knows that when they take the oath, he or she has just signed a blank check to the people of the United States of America for a cost up to and including his or her life. They all know this and pray that they are only asked to survive the normal depravations and demands of military life.

Most veterans have been to other countries and are aware of the conditions most of the peoples of the world must endure. Whether they stay in the military for one enlistment, or longer their perception of the world and their view of the cost of freedom has forever changed.

Combat veterans are especially cursed with the things that they have seen and been part of. Nothing common will ever be the same, You hear a lot about PTSD. All combat veterans have some form of this condition, whether mild of totally debilitating. Most learn to deal with it, some never will, but it’s not something they get over, or get cured of, it is always there. The lucky ones make adjustments in their lives to function in society.

All of these things are part of what it is to be a Veteran. But the common bond among them whether they are active in some form of veteran affairs or not, is that all gave some period of their life to do something for their country and the American people.

I am proud to say that many of my former NJROTC students have chosen to take this step and are now veterans.

Pictured: George T. “Andy” Anderson, CMC U.S. Navy (Ret.) — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-11-06