Bro-vet, thank you for your service, now can we move on to more import things?

The bro-vet I am referring to always steers a discussion in class towards a narrative regarding veterans. There are very real issues that veterans deal with on a daily basis, from the ineptitude of the VA to the number of veterans that commit suicide. There needs to be a frank discussion about PTSD and how little the military prepares its veterans to transition out of the military.

But the need for some vets to alert everyone they encounter that they served our country is hurting the cause of actual veteran organizations that sacrifice their time and money in pursuit of reform for our service members. Stereotyping a veteran as a hard-charging, energy drink chugging, military-T-shirt- wearing meathead delegitimizes the other veterans seeking to reintegrate into a society that already has preconceived notions about vets.

The typical college student doesn’t understand the emotional and psychological toll that the military takes on a veteran and they shouldn’t have to. At the end of the day, we do not draft our service members; you choose to join the military.

“Stop thinking people owe you something,” Omari Broussard, who spent 20 years in the Navy, told Business Insider. “Nobody owes you anything.”

I, and many of my closest friends, also went through a rough period of transition. We sought out like-minded veterans, we followed veteran-oriented social media and we wore our bro-vet gear. I am as guilty as any other veteran of longing for the comradery that I found in the service. But, much like the unknown void vets face when joining the military, they also have to be willing to face the unknown of the civilian world. Seeking to insulate yourself with military jargon and other veterans only makes the transition that much harder.

One person who understands the struggle of transitioning from the military is Will Hunting, a Special Operations veteran with multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He understands the challenges of our veterans and, when commenting on them for various news sources, he pushes veterans to reflect on their past experiences while also moving forward in the civilian world.

“To successfully transition back to civilian life, we must reflect on the catalyst of emotions that first compelled us to join the military,” wrote Hunting in an OAFNATION.com article. “Whether it was family heritage, a call to serve, or even just to get out of a small town, we decided to change our identity, and embrace head on the unknowns of military life. Transitioning from the military and back to civilian life, we must once again be willing to make ourselves vulnerable, and humble our egos so that we can proceed onward with our lives.”

The military has afforded us the ability to do something else with our lives. Our military life should only be a part of our identity, and the whole is greater than the sum of our parts. Texas Wesleyan is another part that is helping us become whole.

My critique is meant to inspire other veterans, not alienate them. To be clear, I too am a veteran. I served my country honorably in the Marine Corps, where I saw many far away lands while humping a pack with my fellow grunts.

Thank you for your service. Now can you refrain from making us look like idiots?

David Cason (second from the left) with other members of the 1st FAST Co. 1st Platoon during pre-deployment workup.
Photo contributed by David Cason

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