Do I regret serving? Hell no.
I’m proud of the fact that I served, that I volunteered as we were ramping up for war, and that I did so during my junior year of high school when my peers and I had ample time to be submitting college applications, applying for careers in the civilian sector, etc.,
What chafes my ass about today is the fallout from that service and it is today that reminds me of how broken and damned-near useless I have become since raising my hand and losing my hair.
See, for those who don’t know, I am a disabled vet. I have a back that likes to spasm and dance on random occasions at least once daily for the past two decades. When asked about it, the doctors just shrug.
I have knees that can barely support my weight (and I am not overweight) for long periods, especially if I am lifting or carrying anything. When asked about it, the VA doctors have said that I *could* get them replaced, but not yet… I’m 41 and have to wait until my 60’s or 70’s because the replacements, themselves, have to be replaced after a while and doing the replacement when I’m closer to the end of my natural life expectancy is more cost-effective.
I was depressed that injuries and anxieties caused me to ‘wash out’ in the first place, exiting the service long before being able to retire, but year after year of watching my body deteriorate and the ever-narrowing ‘strike zone’ for jobs that my more able-bodied peers are able to handle with ease has added to that depression.
Is this a pity party? No. I look up to, respect, and admire my fellow veterans, especially those who have seen combat and those who have it tougher than me.
“So…”, you may ask, “Why the long face?”
Because this day reminds me of the bad as well as the good, often the former outweighing the latter.
It reminds me that I exist solely on an income derived from these disabilities because I’m either too old or too broken for the scant jobs that I *am* qualified for.
It reminds me that my income is ‘too much’ to qualify for state assistance, but ‘too little’ to afford things like ObamaCare out of pocket.
It reminds me of all of the civilians I have spoken to who, for 364 days out of the year look down on me for getting a disability check that they see as a ‘handout’, yet on that 365th day…today…wave their little flags for show and wish me a ‘happy’ day.
It reminds me that my sole source of income is at the whims of a President who would rather use those funds to jet to Maui (and/or fund his current and future wars) and a congress filled with politicians, the majority of whom went straight from classroom to C-Span and could give two shits and a beer fart if their shutdown effects me or not.
It reminds me that those same political suits are striving daily to piss on a document that, in June of 1991, I swore to defend and uphold. Now, 22 years later, the best I can do to keep that promise is to vote for ‘the lesser evil’ on voting days, knowing that campaigns filled with ass-kissing and blatant lies will probably wow the media-fueled masses the other way, taking away rights that my peers and I promised all of the civilians that they could keep, even at the cost of our own lives.
So am I ‘happy’ today? No Not really. But hey, at least I get a discount at some stores, maybe a free breakfast at Denny’s, so there’s that.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. The small smile I get from ranting and venting is about the closest I’ll get today to being ‘happy’.
— Christopher Michael Thompson
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