There are two types of Veterans:
- Those who ask for military discounts
- Those who would rather shave their eyebrows
Depending on the circumstance, I have been both. This can stem from embarrassment or guilt, and I know I am not the only one to feel this way. Let us explore a little of what my thought process behind this is.
No matter how much you do in your career, sometimes it can make you feel inadequate. For me, this is always highlighted when I spot a Veteran-only parking spot at Wally-world. Immediately, I have a mental conflict. It goes something like ....
Fuck, I don't want to have to park all the way in the back, although I could use the exercise. This was meant for me, but what if some old Korean War Vet sees me and calls me a bitch?! Or some dude who got his d**k blown off shows up after me? Do I really deserve this spot?
Despite the truth of the matter being it's just a parking spot, I'm driving to the back of the parking lot uttering profanity and doubting my worth. A little crazy sounding, but anxiety is a mother fucker.
More than just a thank you
I'd much rather have people thanking me for my service and offering military discounts over getting harrassed, like many Vets experienced after Vietnam. I want to utilize what's being offered because I know it's genuinely being given in gratitude. I don't want to disrespect that generosity and I want them to know their customers are in fact, Veterans. If I don't use what's available, they will assume it is a wasted program.People seem so eager to say thank you and shake my hand when they hear I'm a Veteran. Immediate recollections of a friend or uncle they had who served usually comes to light. Tying us together (unlike so much these days that tears our country apart).I remember as a child thinking the WW2 through Vietnam Vets deserved anything the community gave them. Now that time has passed on, I find myself approaching the age those men where when I saw them as giants. I don't feel like I belong in the same category though. This must be some mistake, right? Surely no one sees me like I saw those returning from Desert Storm...I have to remember people don't see the individual person compared to what we represent as a Veteran. We represent the best of the generation, and as representatives of a community, our lives and actions have more meaning. We have to temper this with humility, while acknowledging we felt called to serve our country.
"Are you military?" The girl at the movies asks inquisitively. Feeling the beard on my face and the extra 20lbs I've picked up since getting my DD-214. I reply "Well... I was" with a laugh. "That still counts" she quips and discounts my ticket. I don't want to argue, but still...I feel bad, like I'm taking a handout.It doesn't stop there either. If I'm buying a fuse at the car part store, I'm not going to ask for a discount on a $4 dollar transaction. I feel it would make me look cheap and the time it would take to call over the manager and punch in his code, I would have spent more than $0.40 of my life's value waiting. Not to mention making those standing behind me grow impatient and resent "freeloading" Veterans.However, if I'm buying a $200 replacement part I would certainly ask, because why not after all? They are making enough money on this and I could use the $20 to buy lunch for my friend who is 51 years old and doesn't leave his house much. So it's hit or miss for me, but I know people who will ask for a military discount anywhere, for anything.
I can't tell you how to feel about military discounts or how to act in the future. I hope that by sharing my inner dialogue I can act as the beginning to a conversation with friends, or even with just yourself. Do you always ask for a military discount? Let us know in the comment section.