This is part of the problem with the alienation a solider feels. People can quickly point out that they didn’t force them to volunteer for the military and fight in a war. They could have stayed home. The counter-point to that argument is that because we have transitioned to an all-volunteer force, those that are opposed should be thanking their lucky stars that the volunteer troops are bearing that burden as opposed to having a draft take place in which they could be in the lottery. Additionally, regardless of whether you’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, Liberal, Conservative, Conscientious Objector or Pacifist we all sent the soldier overseas. Because we live in a democracy, we vote to put men and women in charge of governing our affairs who send troops overseas. Though we may have voted for someone else or even opposed sending troops overseas, it does not change the fact that we have put ourselves under the governance of the United States. By living in any country in the world, you are submitting yourself to their governing body and laws even if you don’t vote. Every country on earth has a military of some sort or defense in place, and the lawmakers elected or dictators ruling send young men and women to fight in foreign lands, sometimes unjustly. By shirking responsibility, we only alienate our soldiers more. The moral quagmires they face on the battlefield only continue to dump the weight of shame and guilt onto their shoulders while we all enjoy the benefits of passing the buck and asking “whose fault is it really?”
Most of the time people only want to hear the heroics. They don’t want to listen to what the war is costing our sons and daughters in regards to mental health and this grows the gap wider. In order for our soldiers to begin healing it’s going to take society owning up to the part they played in sending our troops to war. The people at home may not have pulled the trigger, but they asked the soldier to go in their place. The soul wounds we experience are much greater and require the society as a whole to come alongside us as opposed to pointing us to the VA.
Whether you are opposed to or agree with war, what we must remember is that these are our fellow brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, flesh and blood, who are desperate to reconnect with a world they feel no longer understands them. We must try and find common ground together. We’re not asking you to agree with our actions, but help us bear the burden of carrying them on behalf of the country you live in.