I spent three days mulling this over before writing about it. Sometimes it’s better to take some time to think it through and consider wording, and even whether you want to address a thing… and my conclusion now is, I DO. I am also sure I won’t get through writing it without shedding tears.
I’m not naming names, but there are some pages that are dedicated to flaming people that behave in an “entitled” manner. I followed one for a while because there were entertaining posts at times. At this point however, I am done with them because the negativity is too massive and some of the people involved are too unpleasant for all the wrong reasons. If you disagree with the majority, those individuals will turn on you and even threaten you. I don’t need that kind of stupidity in my life, not anywhere. This grown woman is an individual and I’ve been thinking for myself my entire life, thanks. If my view on something differs and that BOTHERS you so much, then you might need to examine your own motives and life path. You may need to learn something from other people instead of being so self-assured that you think berating other human beings is a fun pastime. On the topic I am about to address, I won’t even post comments in that place because I know what the reaction would be – thanks to past experience there. What a shame too. The irony of it is that THEY are acting entitled while accusing others of it.
This is a Veteran’s household. A combat Veteran, no less. A combat Veteran with every right to fly the POW/MIA flag too AND also First Nations, for the record. I have lived with what PTSD does to a human being for over 18 years, and I have traumatic dissociation myself. I understand it from the inside out, and then some, and after this many years I would say in about every life situation that can be thrown at a person. I know what it’s like for someone with PTSD to deal with triggers, stressors, and pressure – crowds, exhaustion, fear, threat of harm, discomforts, unfamiliarity, familiar situations, you name it. Dealing with all of that for myself and for another person is a natural part of my life now, and I do not appreciate it when I see uninformed, inexperienced individuals making up their own ideas about what should and should not affect someone. If you haven’t lived with this, then you need to shut up. It’s that simple. Grow some empathy.
There was a story in the news about a Vet that wanted his courtesy free meal on Veteran’s Day to-go. The restaurants in question denied him having the meal any other way than dine-in, and later the management apologized and stated if they had been asked by staff then they would have made an exception. Someone dropped the ball, but it has now been resolved. He accepted their apology and all is well. People are however mocking the story, the man, and the situation, because they think that he is behaving “entitled” by stating he has PTSD and can’t deal with crowds. I watched the video of this man and his eyes are sincere. He is not angry, he is not pushy, and he appears to be very level and honest in his communication. To assume that he was rude or unreasonable with them, or is making an unreasonable demand, is beyond unacceptable. You weren’t there. So shut up. Do you live with someone that is distressed by sitting anywhere with their back to the door of a restaurant for a meal? I do. Some days are better than others, but it still happens even though the experiences that caused it happened over 20 yrs ago. There isn’t a time limit on trauma. Have YOU ever had artillery fire raining down on you trying to kill you? No? Ever had a small child run up to you strapped with explosives? No? Ever had to kill or be killed? No? Then shut up.
Not everyone that asks for a special consideration for a life issue is “entitled”. I agree there is a lot of it going around these days, but it’s not applicable to every single scenario where someone makes a request. Let’s save the vitriol for where it is genuinely due. When it comes to our Wounded Warriors, we need to extend a bit more courtesy and kindness. If the establishments in question can humbly apologize and make things right, then no one needs to be dragging the story out and mocking someone that lives with this kind of pain. There is simply no room in this world that is in such tremendous upheaval for that kind of childishness anymore. It’s time to grow up now.
To anyone that does not understand the complexities of PTSD, I would say this… do not scoff at what you have not walked through. Yes, he probably goes about his business on a fairly regular basis and shops and goes other places. You don’t know what it took for him to walk into a crowded market though, or that restaurant. You don’t know if he’s hiding a cold sweat, or trying not to end up in one. Yes, there may be times when he can sit through a meal with friends in a place, but maybe not THAT day. (He can’t change Veteran’s Day to another day and if he asked for the courtesy meal on another day, would you be mocking that too??) To my friends that have chronic illness and challenges like myself, this should sound familiar. Draw on that experience and ask yourself if the fact that you can walk a few blocks one day and enjoy time out and about with friends is a measure of what you can do every day. It’s not, huh? PTSD is no different. If you don’t want to be judged on your bad days by a comparison to your good days, you had best believe they don’t either. I saw comments in the conversation that made me want to write this that were appalling. It’s bad enough they called him a POS, and an embarrassment… but the assumptions were idiotic. Walking into the place to order the meal is NOT the same as settling down at a table and sitting there long enough to eat it. Just picking up the meal might that day have been all the stress he could handle. Someone poked fun at the fact that he was on camera, as if that were a comparison. Interviewing with the reporter in an open area is NOTHING like sitting in an enclosed building full of strangers, sorry, fail. How this disorder manifests is also going to vary person to person, the same as the symptoms of a physical disease. Someone else is mocking the fact that he even did the interview. WELL, maybe he wants to elevate AWARENESS regarding PTSD! Because apparently that is totally necessary as this has demonstrated very plainly. Someone else made a spiteful remark about demanding free food – that’s NOT what he did. He went to an establishment that offered free Veteran’s Day meals to Vets. Stop trying to paint a story with your own imagination. Others are claiming that the time frame this Vet served in was “peaceful” so he couldn’t have PTSD. Just one person that pointed out that not everything makes the 6:00 news and got torn down for their explanation on it, and I will state here that they were absolutely, 100%, unequivocally CORRECT. We have a lot of Vets that served during “peace time” that had nothing resembling a peaceful time during their enlistment. As a happy, safe, protected citizen sitting here at home in the U.S., you are enjoying the rewards of not having to experience what some of them have, and you usually know only a minute fraction of what takes place to give you that. I live with the end result of exactly that, and that’s all I can say about it. I know more than I probably should. There is a lot more than even I don’t know. THAT is reality.
To all of the Veteran’s households out there that have been mistreated through these misconceptions and lack of education, I want to wish you well. Veteran’s Day was a few days ago now, but there is no time frame limiting me sending you love. You are amazing, strong, wonderful individuals – not just the Vets but their incredible families that support them as well. Wives and children, you too have made sacrifices and that should not go unnoticed. Know that you are ALL appreciated by those that are in-the-know about the hell at home that life can be at times… and there are others than feel your pain. We also know your love, and why those sacrifices have been made. Know that with time the wounds do diminish and the volume turns down a bit, even though they never completely heal. The scars you and your family carry are badges of honor and a mark of your humanity. This is not a thing that just anyone is called to do, nor can just anyone survive it. You are indeed set apart by traveling that path and doing so with grace and humility. No physical, military-presented medal covers that. It is however pinned to your heart, engraved there for life. Thank you.