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Henry: Military worship needs to go

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(Graphic Illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Only about 10% of military members see combat in their careers, and this primarily depends on the branch in which they find themselves. When I was a little airman in the United States Air Force, buying my highly carcinogenic energy drink and 1,500-calorie breakfast burrito using the American people’s tax dollars, people would still thank me for my service — yet I was far from being in a combative role.

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Why would I deserve the same appreciation as someone who had taken a bullet? The answer is both ignorance and nationalism.

Remember back in the day, when every morning was initiated with the entire school reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? Ever notice how the national anthem is played at every sporting event and even presented by military members on some occasions? This nationalism is forced down our throats whether we like it or not, and this nationalism is often tied to the military.

In most situations, appreciation is expressed based on merit rather than the occupation itself. For example, a lawyer is not necessarily worthy of appreciation unless they have done something in their field to warrant it. The same should be done with members of the armed forces.”

What lots of people fail to recognize is that many who join don’t do it for some overwhelming pride in their country.

Most people join the military for reasons relating to self-interest. In Fort Collins, the median income of a resident is a little under $29,500 a year, compared to a single Fort Collins military member at the E-4 pay grade, serving four years, making about $57,000 a year in a non-combative role.

They should be thanking you for paying your taxes.

All military members have different reasons for joining. One individual I served with was a member of the Crips gang before he joined, and the military gave him a relatively easy out from that lifestyle. Others found refuge in the military through receiving steady pay and job security.

There are many out there who still hold these ordinary people who happen to wear camouflage to work to a much higher standard than those who do not.

The military is just another job at the end of the day for most service members. Stop worrying about thanking the troops, as paying your taxes is more than enough appreciation.”

These people are led to believe that military members are all model citizens — people to look up to — but more than 30 trainees at the Lackland Air Force Base would seem to disagree after experiencing inappropriate relationships with their superiors. How about the nine officers who cheated on tests involving the management of nuclear warheads? Those are just specific examples from the Air Force, but the list goes on.

Does a person who turns a wrench on barely functioning military equipment deserve more thanks than the nurses who went through extreme emotional trauma during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic? Do they deserve more thanks than the paramedics, firemen and police officers who respond to horrible situations on a daily basis? No, they do not, and yet they still receive it.

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In most situations, appreciation is expressed based on merit rather than the occupation itself. For example, a lawyer is not necessarily worthy of appreciation unless they have done something in their field to warrant it. The same should be done with members of the armed forces.

This is not to insult members of the military. During my time in the Air Force, I met plenty of amazing people. The issue lies within American society and the nationalism forced upon us since youth.

Watch YouTube, and you see an ad for the United States Army. Switch to cable, and you see an ad for the United States Marine Corps. The military is constantly presented in a sort of ultra-patriotic light to the masses and is unavoidable. Try watching an NFL game on Sunday without seeing some kind of military promotion or ceremony.

These media portrayals make members of the military look like action heroes from the movies, yet they are no different than anyone else. The media paints a picture that these troops are above those that have not served, which is far from the truth.

The military is just another job at the end of the day for most service members. Stop worrying about thanking the troops, as paying your taxes is more than enough appreciation.

Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.

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About the Contributor
Falyn Sebastian
Falyn Sebastian, Digital & Design Managing Edtior
After becoming a page designer as a sophomore, Falyn Sebastian evolved from print editor to design director and has now officially begun her new position as digital and design managing editor. Originally from the Big Island of Hawaii, she chose to attend Colorado State University to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design along with a minor in entrepreneurship. When it comes to arranging content in The Collegian's newsprint, Sebastian formats and arranges the visual media that readers love in a physical copy. After attending content and budget meetings with the editors of each desk, she manages how each week's visual content fits into the paper by clicking through Adobe InDesign. With a combination of original photos, illustrative graphics and advertisements, Sebastian organizes and delegates tasks to her talented and ever-growing design team. As a graphic design student, journalism was not a field Sebastian intended to work in during college, but she embraced the world of publication design through The Collegian. As graphic design focuses on the importance of effective communication, she realized she was truly designing for a fulfilling purpose. Student media will forever have a happy home in her heart. Working with other students who are passionate about what is happening in their community drives her to continue working on impactful design. Sebastian looks forward to what is yet to come while gaining new experience and memories with her staff.

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    Glenn SundstromDec 15, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for this piece. My own stint in the service and the societal troubles I saw there, reflected the wide range of reasons for joining up, empty futures and poverty being chief among them. My subsequent time of public service in fire and emergency is much more deserving yet rarely recognized. When folks say “thanks for your service” I’m disappointed in our country.

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