I was a B-52 Defensive System Operator in the Air Force. It took over 4 months and a lot of flight hours to train me to do my job. I sat, strapped into an ejection seat, for 15–16 hours at a time looking at a radar screen and stood alert for seven days ready to go to war at a moments notice. I looked out for my 5 other crewmates and they looked out for me.
When I got discharged from the Air Force I used the GI Bill to help pay for my college education, but to this day nobody ever asked me what I did in the Air Force. Being a vet is just checking off a box on an employment application.
Walmart recently started a “green light” campaign for vets, but to be honest, it’s a shallow gesture made to ensure people feel better about themselves as Walmart leverages patriotism to sell more products made in China.
Why are so many vets depressed when they leave the service? Because we were in an environment where we had each others back and had life-death responsibility to carry out our missions. Then we get out and we are offered jobs at Walmart or a drive through restaurant. Very few employers actually value what we did and ask about our training.
I’m proud to have served and have a bond with my fellow vets that most who haven’t served rarely understand. Instead, Republicans in Congress vote to strip our benefits while they want us to continue in harms way.
Please spare me hollow gestures, but it would be nice for once to have someone ask what I did while in the Air Force. We don’t want handouts, we want what we did to count for something.