The We Us and Them of the Warrior Culture

Recently, I came across a post, actually a rant by someone who is well recognized in the veteran community, Boone Cutler. He is a combat veteran, author and host of a radio show out of Reno, Nevada.  You can listen on the web by clicking on for the links to days and times of his show, or follow him on Facebook at “Tipping Point with Boone Cutler”. His “About” section is interesting reading.

Boone is a Warrior. That’s right, with a capital “W”. For him and others like him, it is an earned title, not one to be given up just because he no longer wears the uniform. His philosophy is that the community of warriors who fought and bled together on the battlefield must continue that brotherhood upon return to the civilian world; a world that neither understands nor is capable of understanding them. This Warfighter Community, in his view, is best equipped to help each other overcome the myriad obstacles, hurdles and issues they face in this civilian, PC and too often uncaring world.

He has a valid point. Actually, several.

The specific rant to which I’m referring actually came from another, and was posted on Boone’s Facebook page as a ‘share’. In short, the poster says that if you are not a member of the military or even specifically a combat veteran, don’t use the lingo. When you do, you are not honoring them by being inclusive, you are actually diminishing their experiences. You don’t and simply can’t truly understand what the words mean. In part, the rant states,

“Are you freaking serious? Do not! Do not! I say again, Do not Try and use Warfighter language when you were never a Warfighter! It makes you sound like an idiot! It’s not personal! Just don’t do it! Also, Don’t try and empathise by sharing what you have been through. I get it! What you have gone through sucks! So don’t do it! It only pisses us off! I’m not saying we don’t want your help of your friendship. I’m saying don’t try and share with us like we are the same! We’re not! What you have gone through is not the same as what we haveAnd if we let you into our world, don’t try and take over it. It’s not our’s(sic), we or us when you discus it.”

To a civilian, even a family member of a veteran or someone in the military, this thought can be a bit off-putting. But, there is  real, however unintentional insult when a civilian uses the plural pronouns, “we” and “us”.

It is a common habit for some to use these plural pronouns when referring to their sports teams. When the Hawks took the series against the Blues, “We won!” could be heard jubilantly shouted in bars across Chicagoland. This has always struck me as sort of strange, because the speaker is generally not a member of the team. They are a fan, but as sports fans, feel inclusion in the wins and losses of the teams for which they root.

The tendency to transfer this sense of inclusion to our nation’s military under this line of thinking almost excusable. Almost.

The reality is, too often those who include themselves by inappropriate use of those pronouns do so because they want to be included in a club for which they have not paid the admission price. These are the Call of Duty warriors, internet heroes and worst of all, the flat out posers and fakers who desperately want the recognition and respect reserved for those who have signed on the dotted line.

They didn’t put pen to paper themselves, but crave the honor shown our nation’s heroes. There is a special place in Hell for those who fake military service, and the portals can be found all over the internet at places like Stolen Valor,  which is different from the Facebook page Stolen Valor, (Guardian of Valor), and the blog/website of This Ain’t Hell but you can see it from here, which is also on Facebook at This Ain’t Hell . If you want to get an idea how despised these wannabe warriors are by the real guys, click on those links. But be warned, the language is anything but PC, the feelings are deep and raw.

Boone Cutler has a phrase, “Do Not Assimilate”. To many civilian ears, he is misquoting Star Trek and the Borgs. But to the Warfighter Community, it is a reminder to be proud of the experiences, the hard earned knowledge and even the horrors that have hitchhiked their way home in the minds of those who have experienced combat. His message is both simple and complex, and resonates deeply. It is also completely appropriate and long overdue.

In this day and age of political correctness and enforced fairness, we strive mightily to ensure everyone is equal, everyone is treated the same. In theory, this is a laudable goal. Our Declaration of Independence begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. Yet, this has somehow come to mean that all should be treated as equals, regardless of merit or effort. Many seem to think that treating everyone the same somehow makes for a better, more equitable society. In reality, what that thinking means is that when everyone is equal, no one is special; there is nothing right, just or fair in this.

Military service, particularly that done voluntarily during a time of war is special. Those who endured deployments to combat zones are a subset of all military and are recognized at another level. And those who actively engaged the enemy in battle occupy a class by themselves. Any self-respecting member of the military recognizes, acknowledges and respects this simple fact, and reminding those few to embrace their singular status is both good and right.

There is and should be pride in the knowledge that you have endured what few others have. The call, “Do Not Assimilate” reminds our warriors of the pride they should rightly feel. This pride, this acknowledgment of separateness, of uniqueness, acknowledges there is a difference between us and them, between warriors and civilians.

When together, even in their minds, warriors form a “we” and an “us” all others fall under “them”. The least the rest of us “them” can do is respect this. So, ‘we’ who are ‘them’ offer you our thanks, for doing what we have not and most could not do. Perhaps when ‘we’ who are ‘them’  start to understand and respect that part of what you have sacrificed for and earned is an evolved, not damaged, outlook on the world, our thanks will mean more.

National Military Appreciation Month 2014 Posts

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