I didn't join the Navy to uphold any great tradition of family service. Wasn't even particularly patriotic. I joined because I didn't have the grades, the money, nor the maturity for college, and Homewood in 1980 wasn't a great place to be post high school.
In short, I needed a reset at 18 and the military is good for providing that reset. If I was smarter and a little more mature and a less impulsive snot nosed punk, and knew then what I know now, I would have probably retired after 20 years with a pension instead of just doing six years. It would have also helped if I had people in my military circles that could have given me some sound advice.
But I have this really bad habit of doing things by the seat of my pants. And my dumb ass has all sorts of bruises and rashes from crashing rather painfully on said seat of my pants. Same thing when I finally went to college from 1992-2000. That experience was a case study on how NOT to go thru college. Since then, I've munged my life up in all sorts of exciting ways. But I'm still standing. Too dumb to kill, I guess.
But water under the bridge. I'm still not one to chase veteran's discounts. Maybe if I find myself really between the devil and the deep blue sea, I might avail myself of such things, but even though I'm flying pretty close to the ground, thus far. By the grace of God, I haven't succeeded into completely splattering myself all over terra firma.
I still prefer that things like veteran's discounts go to those actually saw combat and came home with less than they went away with. But to all those who raised their right hands, put on the uniform and put themselves in harm's way, so that this country can still breath free. Bravo Zulu (Navy slang for 'good job)
A lot of you, like me came home with nothing more than memories of working hard, playing hard and staying hard. A few ribbons and medals, some uniforms that may not fit anymore, and still sound of body, if not necessarily sound of mind.
Others came home broken in body and mind, still fighting that last war. And still others came home in flag draped coffins to grieving families. It is those latter two groups that America should honor first.
Thank me for my service if you must. But it was no big deal, at least to me. I just wish that it wasn't just the poor, disadvantaged and underprivileged that disproportionately ending up fighting and dying in America's wars. Maybe if the children of the powerful, affluent and privileged were dying on far off soil, maybe there would be no need for any of us to send our best and brightest off to war.