Author Topic: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans  (Read 1209 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Baden Guy

    Full Member.

  • Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing.
  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *
  • 49,847
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 1,897
This Remembrance Day, let’s remember that veterans don’t all look the same – lest we erase the diversity of experiences in our forces.

Kelly S. Thompson is a former captain in the Canadian Armed Forces and the North Bay, Ont.-based author of Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes From the Forces.

A trip to an insurance agent is often tedious, but rarely a matter of existential anxiety. Yet, there I was, in 2012, sitting sheepishly in one of Vancouver’s provincial insurance offices, the walls sporting posters urging us to drive safely and the staff appearing typically disengaged – and my nerves were showing in my tense face, mottled from crying all morning.

My purpose there was simple – applying for a veteran’s licence plate, which allowed for free parking in the city suburbs. I have always been a sucker for free parking. But the reason for my stress was much more complicated: I had been a civilian for all of nine months, and even after eight years of being Captain Thompson, I was convinced I hadn’t earned the designation.

I wasn’t yet 30 years old; I hadn’t seen war. I didn’t even feel entitled to the depression that led to my medical military release; my colleagues had been forced to hurt other people and seen friends torn apart on battlefields, so who was I to feel this way? An overwhelming feeling of inadequacy clawed at my throat whenever anyone called me a veteran. My dad, on the other hand, was a real veteran, in my eyes: silvery hair, wrinkled skin and a chest full of war medals from his peacekeeping service in the Golan. So when he encouraged me to obtain the form to have my military service validated for the licence plate, I decided to gird myself and make the drive down to this office.

It didn’t quite go as planned.

The insurance lady looked down at the form, her neon fingernails glowing under the office’s fluorescent lights. She snapped her gum. “You don’t look like a veteran,” she said.

“Oh no?” I tried to keep my voice even, pretending I hadn’t had my former officer status questioned a million times before. “And what does a veteran look like?”

“You know, old. Like, Second World War kind of old. And you’re a girl.” That last bit was said with sass, as though my gender and military service could not square with what she was reading on the paper in her hand.

Emboldened, I raised an eyebrow while I signed here and there on the paperwork she handed back to me, my loopy cursive signature apparently unbecoming of soldierness. “I’m a woman, actually. Not a girl.”

The agent pounded her date stamp with a thwack, dug through her filing cabinet of poppy-painted metal plates and handed me one, shrugging, as I held its weight in my hand.
She didn’t need to tell me that I don’t fit the military mould: I knew it from the day I enrolled as an 18-year-old, just after 9/11. Among my friends, my passion for magenta lipstick is renowned, as are my funky haircuts, my dedication to art and my love of story. Artsy-fartsy was the term my dad used to describe me, as did many of my male military colleagues. And even though I come from a place of privilege, with my white skin and cisgender expression, even I struggle with the veteran label when I stare back at the mirror. What I see doesn’t compute with what society expects me to be.

Just a month before the fiasco at the insurance office, I’d felt impossibly out of place while paying respects during my first civilian Remembrance Day. My beret slipped awkwardly on my new civilian hairstyle, and I could see firsthand, compared with my former comrades on the other side, how much I didn’t belong. I wondered about the other veterans who stood next to me at the cenotaph, sporting their own medals and military headwear. We spanned all ages, races, gender expressions and other experiences.

We, the invisible veterans
                    ---------------- --------------------------------------------------

Much more of this well written article including a variety of ex-military voices at :

 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-are-the-invisible-the-problem-with-how-we-understand-our-veterans/



+300

Offline daftandbarmy

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 257,650
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 14,247
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Was
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2019, 12:57:07 »
This Remembrance Day, let’s remember that veterans don’t all look the same – lest we erase the diversity of experiences in our forces.

Kelly S. Thompson is a former captain in the Canadian Armed Forces and the North Bay, Ont.-based author of Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes From the Forces.

A trip to an insurance agent is often tedious, but rarely a matter of existential anxiety. Yet, there I was, in 2012, sitting sheepishly in one of Vancouver’s provincial insurance offices, the walls sporting posters urging us to drive safely and the staff appearing typically disengaged – and my nerves were showing in my tense face, mottled from crying all morning.

My purpose there was simple – applying for a veteran’s licence plate, which allowed for free parking in the city suburbs. I have always been a sucker for free parking. But the reason for my stress was much more complicated: I had been a civilian for all of nine months, and even after eight years of being Captain Thompson, I was convinced I hadn’t earned the designation.

I wasn’t yet 30 years old; I hadn’t seen war. I didn’t even feel entitled to the depression that led to my medical military release; my colleagues had been forced to hurt other people and seen friends torn apart on battlefields, so who was I to feel this way? An overwhelming feeling of inadequacy clawed at my throat whenever anyone called me a veteran. My dad, on the other hand, was a real veteran, in my eyes: silvery hair, wrinkled skin and a chest full of war medals from his peacekeeping service in the Golan. So when he encouraged me to obtain the form to have my military service validated for the licence plate, I decided to gird myself and make the drive down to this office.

It didn’t quite go as planned.

The insurance lady looked down at the form, her neon fingernails glowing under the office’s fluorescent lights. She snapped her gum. “You don’t look like a veteran,” she said.

“Oh no?” I tried to keep my voice even, pretending I hadn’t had my former officer status questioned a million times before. “And what does a veteran look like?”

“You know, old. Like, Second World War kind of old. And you’re a girl.” That last bit was said with sass, as though my gender and military service could not square with what she was reading on the paper in her hand.

Emboldened, I raised an eyebrow while I signed here and there on the paperwork she handed back to me, my loopy cursive signature apparently unbecoming of soldierness. “I’m a woman, actually. Not a girl.”

The agent pounded her date stamp with a thwack, dug through her filing cabinet of poppy-painted metal plates and handed me one, shrugging, as I held its weight in my hand.
She didn’t need to tell me that I don’t fit the military mould: I knew it from the day I enrolled as an 18-year-old, just after 9/11. Among my friends, my passion for magenta lipstick is renowned, as are my funky haircuts, my dedication to art and my love of story. Artsy-fartsy was the term my dad used to describe me, as did many of my male military colleagues. And even though I come from a place of privilege, with my white skin and cisgender expression, even I struggle with the veteran label when I stare back at the mirror. What I see doesn’t compute with what society expects me to be.

Just a month before the fiasco at the insurance office, I’d felt impossibly out of place while paying respects during my first civilian Remembrance Day. My beret slipped awkwardly on my new civilian hairstyle, and I could see firsthand, compared with my former comrades on the other side, how much I didn’t belong. I wondered about the other veterans who stood next to me at the cenotaph, sporting their own medals and military headwear. We spanned all ages, races, gender expressions and other experiences.

We, the invisible veterans
                    ---------------- --------------------------------------------------

Much more of this well written article including a variety of ex-military voices at :

 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-we-are-the-invisible-the-problem-with-how-we-understand-our-veterans/

That's a great article which, coincidentally, reveals about a dozen paradigms alot of people, and not just vets of all types, are struggling with these days.  :salute:
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline mariomike

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *
  • 520,885
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,761
    • The job.
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2019, 17:10:56 »
Quote
My purpose there was simple – applying for a veteran’s licence plate, which allowed for free parking in the city suburbs.

If she feels guilty, she shouldn't. From what I understand, anyone who passed BMQ can pick one up,

Veterans License Plates
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=18176.100
5 pages.

This discussion seems to come up this time of year,

What is a Veteran?
https://army.ca/forums/index.php?topic=29033.75
5 pages.

Reminds me of a quote from William Manchester. ( He was a Marine severely wounded on Okinawa. )

“All who wore uniforms are called veterans, but more than 90 percent of them are as uninformed about the killing zones as those on the home front.”

I certainly include myself in that 90 percent.

For me, it is a day to think of those who did not survive.




« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 19:09:10 by mariomike »

Offline Jarnhamar

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 305,821
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,196
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2019, 22:16:24 »
That's a great article which, coincidentally, reveals about a dozen paradigms alot of people, and not just vets of all types, are struggling with these days.  :salute:

It's a great article for sure, two things kind of stuck out to me as a bit weird.

Quote
And even though I come from a place of privilege, with my white skin and cisgender expression, even I struggle with the veteran label

1. Being "cisgender" is considered a place of privilege now?
2. A bit weird seeing her talk about coming from a place of privilege but talks about vet plates and being a sucker for free parking.



There are no wolves on Fenris

Offline Humphrey Bogart

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *
  • 126,134
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 3,365
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 15:51:29 »
Don Cherry in hot water on social media for comments he made about immigrants not wearing Poppies or supporting Veterans. 

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/sportsnet-apology-don-cherry-remarks-1.5354927

Time to retire Don, new world out there and while I think you are a great hockey pundit, 2019 Canada doesn't want to hear you weigh in on issues outside the game.

Edit:

On top of the above, I think Don is going a bit senile.  Reminds me of my grandfather when he started getting dementia.  Frequent incoherent ramblings like this.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 16:05:49 by Humphrey Bogart »

Offline mariomike

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *
  • 520,885
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,761
    • The job.
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2019, 16:19:56 »
Don Cherry in hot water on social media for comments he made about immigrants not wearing Poppies or supporting Veterans. 

Satire,

Quote
Sportsnet reminds viewers of its zero-consequence-for-racism policy
https://www.thebeaverton.com/2019/11/sportsnet-reminds-viewers-of-its-zero-consequence-for-racism-policy/

Online FSTO

  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *****
  • 52,290
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 1,867
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2019, 17:10:51 »
Don Cherry in hot water on social media for comments he made about immigrants not wearing Poppies or supporting Veterans. 

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/sportsnet-apology-don-cherry-remarks-1.5354927

Time to retire Don, new world out there and while I think you are a great hockey pundit, 2019 Canada doesn't want to hear you weigh in on issues outside the game.

Edit:

On top of the above, I think Don is going a bit senile.  Reminds me of my grandfather when he started getting dementia.  Frequent incoherent ramblings like this.

I agree. I grew up with Grapes on the tube. I actually watched the segment with Brian Williams that launched his career.
But he should retire because he's going to croak on live TV one of these days. When they did Hometown Hockey in Esquimalt last year they basically wheeled him from the hotel to the broadcast site, let him do his segment and then wheeled him back to the Empress.

Not a dignified end to a very good run.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 08:35:53 by FSTO »

Offline mariomike

  • Directing Staff
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *
  • 520,885
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,761
    • The job.
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2019, 17:40:50 »
Considering his age, the war years likely had a pretty profound effect on Don.

Although too young to join, he must have been aware of the effect it was having on his community.

This shows Toronto's war dead, house by house,
https://globalnews.ca/news/3852998/canada-poppy-map/

I believe Don grew up in Kingston, ON. So, I imagine the situation there was pretty grim as well.






Offline Tcm621

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • 13,505
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 772
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 21:21:47 »

Emboldened, I raised an eyebrow while I signed here and there on the paperwork she handed back to me, my loopy cursive signature apparently unbecoming of soldierness. “I’m a woman, actually. Not a girl.”



This is where I began to suspect this person may have some sort of agenda. I have never heard anyone say something like this unless they were trying to cause a scene for one reason or another. And it isn't like this was some stodgy old boy with a mustache and a monacle, this was another woman. News flash, people say boy and girl as synonyms for man and woman all the time. Does she get upset if someone labels the washroom the "Girls" room?


Quote

And even though I come from a place of privilege, with my white skin and cisgender expression, even I struggle with the veteran label when I stare back at the mirror. What I see doesn’t compute with what society expects me to be.


And this is where my suspicions were confirmed. This is the same type of person who claims discrimination if no one wants to work with her when the reality is she is just an *******. They also believe the military is discriminatory because they lost their memo or posted them somewhere they don't want to go. The fact is the military ****s everyone equally unless you have a solid bar or a unicorn on your shoulder and that doesn't always protect them.

It sounds like this person has issues with her identity as a veteran and doesn't believe she deserves to be called one, so she is projecting her feelings about herself onto others. When people claim the media wants to push an agenda, this is what they talk about. It is incredibly obvious that the real issue is that she feels excluded because she doesn't have the shiny bling on her chest that some of her co-workers had. Any editor worth his or her salt should have picked that up immediately. That is even a good story to run this time of year.

As far I am concerned, if you reached OFP you are a vet. Maybe not a combat veteran but you have spent the time to learn your job and become qualified. It doesn't matter if you have 2 years or 20, you are part of the family and that will never change. Even this person (who seems like great fun at parties), disgruntled as she is, is my sister in arms.

Offline FJAG

  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *****
  • 209,915
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 2,517
  • Ex Gladio Justicia
    • Google Sites Wolf Riedel
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2019, 22:25:33 »
Don Cherry in hot water on social media for comments he made about immigrants not wearing Poppies or supporting Veterans. 

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/sportsnet-apology-don-cherry-remarks-1.5354927

Time to retire Don, new world out there and while I think you are a great hockey pundit, 2019 Canada doesn't want to hear you weigh in on issues outside the game.

Edit:

On top of the above, I think Don is going a bit senile.  Reminds me of my grandfather when he started getting dementia.  Frequent incoherent ramblings like this.

Not so much an issue about Don (who I've never really been fond of) but his comments made me conscious about seeing what the proportion of poppy wearing to non poppy wearing individuals was in my own community. My town/region is in the heart of southwestern Ontario and is a centre of conservatism with a very low recent immigrant population (most of the immigration here happened in the eighteen, early nineteen hundreds).

Today I went shopping at Superstore and saw probably upward of 100-150 people. Those wearing poppies, including my wife and I, numbered eight. There was no sign of any poppy dispensers or folks selling poppies in sight.

I'm not sure if the problem here is the lack of effort by the local legion/cadets etc to sell poppies or pure general apathy but it seems to me that Cherry's a bit off to just blame the new immigrants for the lack of poppies on the streets these days. He does seem to be right in noticing that there is an embarrassing absence of poppies out there.

 :cheers:
Illegitimi non carborundum
Semper debeatis percutis ictu primo
Access my "Allies" and "Mark Winters, CID" book series at:
https://sites.google.com/view/wolfriedel
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WolfRiedelAuthor/

Offline Jarnhamar

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 305,821
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 11,196
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2019, 23:13:26 »
Quote from: Tcm621



And this is where my suspicions were confirmed.

Interesting write up for her book. Leaves me wondering about the whole veterans licence plate scene.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/598582/girls-need-not-apply-by-kelly-s-thompson/9780771070952

 "a family legacy of PTSD"?
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 23:30:53 by Jarnhamar »
There are no wolves on Fenris

Offline gryphonv

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • 9,925
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 314
Re: We are the invisible: The problem with how we understand our veterans
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2019, 00:00:35 »
I'm not sure if the problem here is the lack of effort by the local legion/cadets etc to sell poppies or pure general apathy but it seems to me that Cherry's a bit off to just blame the new immigrants for the lack of poppies on the streets these days. He does seem to be right in noticing that there is an embarrassing absence of poppies out there.


I live in St. John's and noticed the same thing. I'll admit i don't spend a lot of time going to stores or the mall. But I've had to go out of my way to find a place to buy a poppy. My closest Walmart has a table set up to sell poppies, I've been there about 4 times in the last two weeks and havent seen anyone manning it. As I was around the store, I notice maybe 1 in 20 wear a poppy.

But I mean you can't blame someone for not wearing one if they are not available to be bought. I'm sure they are being sold at some places, maybe its a issue of available volunteers. I don't know.