But I like (I think) where you're going with this, so I'll indulge for a while.
As a veteran, I find that both harsh as well as insightful. Do we struggle? Oh, boy. Some do, some don't.In providing for your freedom, veterans effectively create their own prison. The cost of your Mocha Poop Swirl Late Crappacino is not $5.25 at Starbucks. It is measured by a cost that has no equal; it is measured in the cost of the lives of EVERYONE who serves this great nation. The prison that a veteran lives in is one that they will try and break free from alone, because they do not ask for help. It comes in the form of poverty that is so devastating that 1 in 4 veterans can't afford to eat, and 1 in 4 will attempt suicide, and even 1 in 4 will end up homeless at some point as a result of their military service. And those are just the ones that are "Lucky" enough to make it home. For the daft ones, that means that less than 25% of veterans who come home after serving will have a chance at a mediocre life if they don't end up committing suicide first.
I know I do. It's not so much the ones who came home. It's the ones who didn't, but most importantly, their families. That's on my mind the most. I suppose I'm lucky, in that given my profession, we any of us bought it, we'd probably all have bought it. Survivor guilt shouldn't enter into the picture, but it does nevertheless, in large part because accidents aboard aircraft are usually the result of human error, so when friends go down, and I've flown with when, I can't but think "why them? Why not me?"
Been there.The things you will never see are the dreams about friends and brothers that they could not save. Things like being kept from their children as a result of their "Honorable" service.
Done that.The wives who can no longer deal with the pain the veterans feel so they walk away.
I have not experienced any of the above. In fact, quite the opposite.The accusations of being a bad person because the veteran chose to defend your right to badmouth them. The weight of what they have been through that they will never share because they agreed to take on the burden of your safety. The freedoms that are taken away as a result of their service. The ridicule that is passed on by so many on the streets. The condescension by those who are better off because they chose not to defend you. The courts treating a drug dealer, or a violent felon with more dignity and respect than a veteran with no prior criminal record. The kindness and compassion for those who were committing these acts not 5 minutes before.
I'll agree with the above.Veterans are those that have given their lives for your freedom, and even if you never see that they suffer in silence, they all suffer a great deal. The cost of your freedom is far more than you can imagine, and has sparked slogans like "For those who fight for it, Freedom has a price the protected never know." That is a burden they take on willingly, and would do again over and over to keep even one of you from having to suffer through what they live with every day.
So when you see someone who has defended you, remember that they did not make it home safe, they are scarred with wounds that will never heal until they have passed on, and when you reach out your hand and thank the guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat, you are not just thanking him for what he has done, you are thanking him for what he is still doing.
I'm a fan of Robert Heinlein's idea of citizenship. I applaud Israel, Sweden, and all other countries which require some form of service. Things which are freely given have no value. It's a lesson I think many American citizens have never learned.You Can Not Serve Without Giving Your Life For Your Country!