There seems to be a feeling of hostility lately towards the military community, specifically regarding what one author calls a “sense of entitlement” on the part of service members and their families. Another author wrote that veteran hiring preference and military discounts are creating a rift in military-civilian relations.
In an article published Wednesday on Task & Purpose, Carl Forsling writes that “Military families have some unique challenges, but it’s not up to the civilian population to accommodate that.” He also disses the idea that the military spouse has “the toughest job in the world,” pointing out that if the roles were reversed, the military spouse would quickly fail at military-based missions. Additionally, Forsling states that many civilian jobs are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous. He adds that many issues military families face are self-induced and a result of poor choices such as getting married and having kids too young, therefore “voluntarily putting themselves in financial jeopardy.”
In another article published March 16th on the Washington Post Opinion blog, Dave Duffy talks about how the sense of entitlement among military personnel, and rude spouses in-particular, is an embarrassment to the military community. He also claims that we should get rid of veteran hiring preferences and “ease up” on thanking veterans and uniformed personnel because it makes those people seem better than others.
Let’s get some perspective here. Should the military community feel entitled? No. Morally speaking, I don’t feel that anyone should have a sense of entitlement for anything. Do civilians owe anything to the military community? No, other than the basic respect we should show to each other as human beings. But I also believe it is the right of anyone to offer a discount to military members as they see fit. I admit that I often ask for a military discount, but I would never get angry or judge anyone if a discount is not offered. For me, it is the same as searching for a coupon on the internet. Sometimes I find one, sometimes I don’t. The rule of thumb for military members and spouses should be to never expect a military discount, but humbly and graciously accept should one be offered.
As for military spouses having the toughest job in the military, I partly agree with Forsling. No matter how hard my job as a spouse gets, I know my husband’s job is much more difficult and one that I am certain I could not handle. I also know that it is much harder for him not to see his kids for months at a time than it is for me to manage them day in and day out. But what I don’t agree with is comparing the danger of a service member’s job with other civilian jobs. To me, nothing is more dangerous than fighting a war. Why else would the United States put so much effort into training these men and women? They are the line of defense for an entire country and must complete any and all tasks asked of them no matter how dangerous.
This danger, I think, is why some people do say that the military spouse’s job is the hardest in the military. Generally speaking, what we do on a daily basis is very similar to what many civilian spouses do. But the huge difference is that we carry the anxiety of uncertainty, an uncertainty which, no matter how hard we try to resist, has a continually nagging presence in the back of our minds every time we send our troops on deployment. It’s still not the hardest job in the military, but this worry does place another whole level of difficulty on military spouses compared to non-military spouses.
Both authors mention the fact that our troops voluntarily choose this job over others, and therefore know what they are getting into. But think for a moment if those men and women had not volunteered. What if very few volunteered and our force was too small? I am certain the issues at hand here would be completely different if military service was required, or if another draft was instated.
Basic respect is what we all owe each other. But if civilians want to thank a veteran for protecting our freedom, let them. If companies want to give preference to hiring veterans, let them. If stores, restaurants, or services want to offer a discount, let them. In a society that idolizes reality TV stars, pro-sports players with criminal records, and Hollywood drug addicts, it is nice to know that some people choose to honor what is true and good and worthy of praise. A military-civilian rift is not the goal here, but merely one’s own choosing to recognize something he/she supports and respects. And should you happen come across any rude, entitlement-seeking spouses, simply let it go. They do not represent the majority.