I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of questions both about veterans and for them. I hear and read a lot about them, especially in the days leading up to Veterans’ Day. This year, rather than merely wonder what my fellow veterans think, I decided to conduct a survey. Done through Google Forms, and various social media sites, it is about as informal as they come, but responses were passionate and specific, from both male and female veterans, from all branches of service, active and reserve. What follows may surprise you.
Me: What is one wish you have? (ANYthing goes, but all responses (except wishing to fly, from levitation to Superman skills) were very serious indeed.)
Veterans: More than 75% of respondents wish for war to end around the world, for our world to co-exist in a peaceful manner, and for countries of the word to unite for common problems such as peace, pollution, hunger, sickness and poverty. World peace in our lifetime if possible, but at least a safe world with opportunities family before us did not have, that our kids will inherit a better world than we did. (btw, that “world peace” is the kind that demonstrates we’re mature enough as a species to work through our differences, “not” the lame beauty pageant answer). They frequently pointed out that no matter what, “I will always serve my country”, but it would be nice if our men and women did not have to go to war! (Btw, it doesn't mean that 25% did wish for war, in fact, not a single response was pro-war. It's just that 75% indicated an end to war as their top wish.)
Many wish for the ability to make significant positive differences in the lives of others, to help not only other vets in need, but to see all people respecting the lives of others. Noted time and again was the wish that our wonderful country could realize the potential military veterans have. Because of their service, their awareness has been heightened about life beyond our borders, and how our actions (or lack thereof), affect both the US and countries most could not locate on a map. Such awareness makes veterans invaluable resources for truly making this country great. Let's take care of them better--we can do so much better.
Still others wished for all things family-related. For estranged family to contact each other-- life is too damn short. To enjoy simple family time, family health, and happiness, to be successful at work and as parents, and to see loved ones (both living and deceased) again. Accept each other’s differences to work together better, and maintain a strong nation, strong patriotic spirit, and strong families.
Heartbreakingly, several wish to no longer be in constant pain, to be debt free to start life after the military and able to get a decent job after multiple deployments. They want treatment for their pain that is not based on pills, to be listened to, and considered competent despite needing treatment or even a service dog.
Overall, their thinking is about wanting to help others, enjoying what life has to offer, and to know “everything”. A striking wish is that people wouldn’t “wish”--- just get out there and make life, their dreams, and the changes they complain about, happen. This is an "action-based" group of respondents, for sure, and not one of them wishes for more war. If only these veterans could be in charge.
*Keep in mind that these respondents are, from what I can tell, not older veterans, ie., from WWII or the Korean War. (I'll have to work on ways to get their responses.) Stay tuned for part 2.