It seems that some veterans want to create an impression that a veteran is a veteran is a veteran. Then there are guys like me who think combat arms veterans, in particular, have paid one hell of a lot more dues than the majority of vets, especially those we call rear echelon mother fuckers (REMF).
Let us take two guys, one is 18 years old and the other one is 23 with a college degree. The 18 year old enlists in the active duty Marines and does 30 years as a grunt, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major before being put out to pasture with a pension that is not worth spit.
The other guy joins the Navy reserve as some sort of computer geek with the intention of milking the tax payers for all he’s worth; but at the same time and throughout his career, he takes every precaution to ensure that the greatest risk he will ever face are paper cuts and swear words.
Then America gets attacked on 9/11 and Congress, in order to retain mid-level officers and enlisted personnel, sweetens the (retention) pot with something called the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The problem now for our Go Navy beat Army REMF is that he has to do 90 days in OIF (Iraq) and/ or OEF (Afghanistan) theatre of operations in order to get this new, improved and quite lovely GI Bill which allows him to pass that 4 year free ride on to his dependents.
Now imagine that his lust to snag that GI Bill and pass it down to his kids is so intense that he breaks that vow to self, and starts shopping around for a cushy yet super-safe ‘in theater’ gig to qualify to claim his prize. A little problem arises for our future war hero/ vet in that there are no 90 day billets available that are completely risk free or our Reserve/ National Guard officer; but he is tenacious in pursuit of his goal and finally lands a 45 day volunteer gig inside fortress America in Kabhul, Herat, Mazar or any place where he his wonderfulness will be protected by grunts and he can buy good quality European wines and such at the German PX 24/7/11.
Iraq was always too dangerous, even inside Baghdad’s green zone the bad guys could always reach out and touch you no matter how cushy your assignment, but Afghanistan was not. Actually anywhere inside the Green Zone in Kabul was safer than your mother’s womb. This fact of course would make OEF/ Afghanistan the only so-called war zone in which our reluctant warrior/ hero/ soon to be VFW/ vet would be at all interested in. Winning that 4-year free ride on the backs of the US taxpayers ‘scholarship’ for his son or daughter would be less dangerous than almost any neighborhood within the continental US. Plus the tax-free because you know, war zone, officers salary combined with danger pay and other perks would be a nice boost in his annual income so once again we find our Reservist/ Nat-Guard vet guy practically ecstatic when he manages to find and ‘volunteer’ for his second pump to Afghanistan and the 90-day golden ring is grabbed.
If you think it could not happen, I will gladly introduce you to an Army Major, also a reservist, who proudly announced that he volunteered for some chickenshit assignment in Djibouti (designated as part of OIF theater of Ops) for 6 months because it got him the Post 9/11 GI Bill which he promptly signed over to one of his sons. There were also tax breaks and, in his case, a higher salary than he was making in his civilian job. For our Army Reservist dude, the war in Iraq was a Win-Win-Win with the taxpayers being the suckers as usual.
Still believe that all ‘combat/ war’ veterans are created equal?
The Pareto Principle is also alive and well within the bowels of your vaunted Department of Defense where fewer than 20% are trigger pullers and the other 80% are stealing both oxygen and tax dollars.
LtCol Simon MacTemplar