Humans of PCC: C, A Soldier’s Perspective
What do you think was your call to service?
I’m going to say the biggest one [was]: I always wanted to do it […] as a kid […] I was not that strong. I was not that tough. I wasn’t a fighter, none of that, and I did not look like a soldier. But I always felt like one, I always felt like I wanted to go in that direction in life, growing up, about as early as 1st grade or 2nd grade. […]
One of the other things was, I’m Transgender. I kind of knew it. I mean I knew it, didn’t have the words. I also knew that Transgender people got pushed around pretty bad. So, I figured who would push a soldier around. Nobody! Nobody would push a soldier around, [and] if I was a veteran nobody would mess with me. Sure enough nobody does; not because of that. You wouldn’t know I’m a veteran just by looking at me. I just figured that it would be good to stick up for yourself and your family, things you believe in. You make yourself stronger. And of course, there’s the college education, there’s the college money, which, that was definitely a factor.
Do you think your experience in the military has influenced your politics?
Oh yeah! I already thought politicians were sleazebags, foolish, waste of space. And then, come to find out they’re all that plus they like to send us to war. Meanwhile we’re out there not getting any sleep, getting shot [and] they’re back home in a nice comfy bed collecting way more money than we are. Same with the businesspeople. When you get into the subject of war in 2018, there […] really is no reason for war. Politicians keep saber rattling when there’s no need to saber rattle, when there’s nothing that’s provoking that: that makes me not trust politicians. That makes me look at not only the politician but the system they have set up in place and start asking questions.
Where do you think that saber rattling mentality comes from?
Wanting to acquire more wealth, resources, influence, power, positions of power. […] Rather than producing your own stuff which takes time, it takes logistics, resources, why not just go to the next-door neighbor whether it be a town or an entire country, take over them, take their stuff. Of course, that doesn’t work in the end because eventually they rebel. […] We’re so much like our ancestors. We kind of have the same mentality but the result is always going to be the same, you get a little bit of a boost when you take over someone’s resources. You might get a fast one right now, but it’s going to come back tenfold and bite you right in the ass.
What are some things that most people don’t know about military life or about being a veteran?
I’m going to say that we, especially those of us who have been to a war zone… words like ‘honor,’ ‘valor,’ and the military awards that come with [them], we kind of do and don’t care about them.
Those of us who know what it’s really like to get shot at oftentimes don’t get too wrapped up in awards like that or any type of glamour, glitz, glory. There really isn’t any of that. We’re just doing our jobs.
Sometimes, I’d say maybe about 0.01% of the time we’re in, we do what’s on the cover, on the cover of the Army videos that they show in the recruiter office where we’re shooting machine guns, driving around in tanks, and all that. OK maybe not 0.01%, but it’s very little. You’re actually doing more maintenance. There’s a lot more maintenance that goes on. I’d say 90% of your job is maintenance, cleaning, upkeep, admin; it’s organizational, you have to have good organizational skills in order to make sure people have all of their stuff.
Do you think that because of the disproportionate amount of mundane services that you provide that that is what makes people less comfortable with terms like ‘honor’ and ‘valor’ and the hero worship?
The hero worship, the valor and all that, it’s […] more of a recruitment tool. It’s kind of one of those things where if you show some young kid off the street or right out of high school, some kid about that age, getting awards for going over here doing this, you’re getting an award for that, it kind of reminds me of the boy scouts. But as far as the ‘honor’ and the ‘valor’ I would say especially those of us that have been out to a combat zone, when you have people who’s lives have been lost whatever honor or valor that comes with a war zone is completely eclipsed by the loss of a fallen comrade.We tend to focus more on the people, the people are what really ends up taking more of a soldier’s time, thoughts.
Honor. Valor. It’s a really a complicated subject when you get right down to it, defining what a good action is. There are awards in the military for engaging in combat and I don’t think that civilians really understand what combat is.
To us combat can be terrifying. Of course, there’s obviously going to be the adrenaline rush, but overall, it’s terrifying when you look past any of the potential good things. For example, end of World War II when Japan surrendered, you had America, like all of us across the board [saying], “Yeah we won! Woo!” We just bombed a lot of people. That is nothing to celebrate about! I would be terrified, I would be crying like “Oh my God we just bombed these people, this is horrible.”
Those who don’t have to take part in war, they look at a victory as ‘We won. We’re better. We have this right.’ We have more rights, maybe. Maybe we get to have more money because of that. There’s some type of benefit. But when it comes to our side of things, the combat side is terrifying. Our friends could get severely wounded. We have to watch our friends get hurt, our friends get killed, not come back, or dealing with their own survivor’s guilt. So, any type of valor any type of honor, good positive things that come along with are, again, oftentimes eclipsed by such feelings.