I had an interaction with @Swingman_Yeh – You can check him out on Twitter. He had mentioned his “veteraness” in a tweet, and I didn’t have a post on that identity so I asked him if he would guest post on my blog about his “veteraness.” Here’s his post.
I’m a Vet.
I’m learning a lot about identity with each post Lem writes here. I suppose I have several identities: father, husband, church member, medical professional, to name a handful. I’m also a veteran. I spent 27 years in the United States Air Force. Moved up the ranks from Airman (E1) to Master Sergeant (E7), then attended a school that enabled me to become an officer and move further up the ladder, 2nd Lieutenant to Major, the rank at which I retired.
How could being a veteran not be a part of my identity? It starts with tribal indoctrination. In basic training I learned the basic laws of the tribe, the importance of respect and chain of command. You learn who the boss is, where you fit in the organization, the importance of your part in the tribe. Bound by common law, the military regulations (or instructions), the Uniform Code of Military Justice, we are all kept in line. And over time, something funny happens. You develop a bond that transcends culture, family upbringing; and it all begins in basic training, where a guy from New York meets guys from California, Montana, Texas, etc. Despite different backgrounds, everyone’s head is shaved, everyone puts on the same uniform, and so begins the shaping of a common identity. At first, you may want to rebel, and some do. Those that stick around feel part of a team, a family, who experience a camaraderie that bonds one to another.
This bonding to one another continues after military service. Veteran’s day and the flag have deeper meaning. Seeing a young active duty person at a unit fund raising car wash in another state posted via Twitter brings a warm feeling. Just like a photo of a family member would. We’re members of a special brotherhood (& sisterhood). Running into a fellow military retiree–we instantly have much to talk about, though we’ve never met before. Reading about the tragedies of war, I feel for our brothers and sisters and what they are going through. Perhaps I am being a little over dramatic. I don’t think so, because I am Veteran. It’s an identity that is a part of me.
-SwingMan Yeh <— please use this name. :c)