this AND that

I’ve received a lot of DMs and comments about my anti-Donny O’Malley/Vet TV memes. Most of the feedback is from vet bros and gals who agree with my characterizations. Some folks have shared their personal experience with the man. These experiences, with the VetTV figurehead, are overwhelmingly negative.

I’m sure he’s a good dude, which is mainly just something people say. I’m not actually sure about that at all. In fact, nearly everything I’ve heard or experienced about the man has suggested the opposite. To be clear, however, I have not met him and, plainly, I know next to nothing about who he is. So, I’ll double down with a heart-felt, “I’m sure he’s a good dude.”

To use their words, VetTV creates dark, irreverent comedy horror because “laughing is better than killing yourself.” Okay, got it. In order to prevent suicide, you’ll inject, or, after all, re-inject pain and tragedy into our world, exacerbating the isolation so we can become more alien to the civilian universe that we’ve now rejoined. Makes sense. The stated mission is wholesome. Namely, they want to prevent the inexplicable and incestuous self-elimination of the veteran community. The number ‘22’ is universally accepted as the daily toll on our brothers and sisters who could no longer bear the pain of life. Still, in that hasty summation, we forget the countless veterans who live and, indeed, remain helpless and hopeless until their death by some other cause. These men and women are only technically alive and dead inside.

The hardest part of my transition from the military was the lack of belonging. Though, I should have never felt that way. Home is where I returned and it’s the place to which I first belonged. I had an intact support system. Friends and family cared for me with gusto. Yet, I still felt out of place.

Civilians like to know “why we served”. We answer with some version of, “duty”, “honor”, or “patriotism” which are, at least, superficially honest answers. For me, that’s how it started. As time passed and my thinking evolved, I realized that my reason for signing up was not my reason for staying. I maintained my dedication and commitment to the Marines. To be respected for my work, in the profession of arms, became its own purpose. I showed up to work each day striving to be at least as good as I was the day before–and not for me, but for the Marines. I’d leave work with a pit in my stomach when I failed to meet that expectation. 

It’s hard to adjust when you separate because civilians usually don’t mirror that same sense of duty. This is not to say you won’t find an accountant who will bleed for GAAP or an extreme car mechanic who will die for his socket wrench. But as a rule of thumb, civilian jobs come with civilian stakes and a civilian mission statement–of this world and not “bigger than ourselves”. 

What does this have to do with Donny O’Malley? Nothing, really. But I still think he uses too much dick and ass in his jokes and he should stop. In reality, Donny and his team likely mean well, as they say. Also, I know that the homoerotic humor is very much part of the Marine and military culture. I, too, have found dildos and anal beads during room inspections. I, too, have been emotionally scarred by the shadowy depths of the Lance Corporal imagination. However, I believe the twisted metal in the rifleman’s mind is an effect rather than a cause. Moreover, I think we ought to be bridging the gap between service-people and civilians, rather than create a sense of eternal belonging to a group which is technically no longer ours.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Right? Well, that’s a bit confusing, SgtMaj (ret.)

The “gun club” will always be there. I don’t suggest, at all, that you should separate yourself from the broad and dense advocacy present in the veteran networks. Seek them out and use them for all the power they hold! But realize, also, that the world is bigger than the military. There are people who can relate to you, even though they never served. There are pursuits, other than being a bro vet, that will feed your soul and help chart your path to happiness.

Sometimes, I love a good dick joke–who doesn’t?! I also like shooting guns and displaying my toxic masculinity. But I also love a good book about real estate investing. I love a good family friendly Rom-Com. I like dogs. I like non-dick jokes. I like cooking. I like a lot of shit.

Most importantly, I’ve rediscovered the sense of purpose I was missing. Just because my profession is not “arms” anymore, does not mean I shouldn’t be working just as hard. When you apply the same work ethic to your current pursuit, passion and purpose WILL follow. 

You aren’t just a Vet. You certainly aren’t just a raunchy and crude-humored Vet. 

You can be this AND that.

You catch my drift? What do you think!?

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