Why we shouldn’t just have military discounts

Every time I see a sign taped to the cash register or to windows of businesses that says something along the lines “10 percent Military Discount,”  a wave of indignation passes through me.

I do not think that discounts from businesses should be restricted to military personnel. Let me explain.

First off, I believe when businesses, such as Banana Republic, Lowe’s, Apple and Disney World handout military discounts, they are doing two things. They are establishing an uncouth definition of what it means to serve this country and encouraging a hierarchy that discredits the work of other heroes in our country, treating military personnel better based on their willingness to volunteer.

It isn’t that I am appreciative unappreciative (correction) of the risks they have taken. It’s that I recognize that the military is not the only group of people serving this nation.

I am advocating for reconstructing our definition of what it means to serve this country. I am thinking of the word ‘serve’ in the sense of yielding a service or product for others, not limiting it to just those who have enlisted in the military.

I figure that if we were to think of it in those terms, we would discover that millions of people are serving their country; millions of Americans who are equally deserving of discounts as any soldier.

This also brings into question where our values lie, or in other words, what does it mean to be hero in this country? The United States functions through a military lens, where our fears and hubris have limited our scope of heroes to be only soldiers. And I am not saying that they aren’t in some regard. I am just disappointed that our teachers, firefighters and nurses aren’t held with the same esteem.

Personally, I believe that a collaboration of education, patience and an open mind is key to improving a lot of the world’s problems. I think by glorifying the military profession with discounts is reiterating the long-held notion in this country that a strong military presence is the way to go about encouraging change. To put it more simply, encouraging a forceful approach over what I believe to be a stronger and powerful, and perhaps more peaceful one.

I feel that if any Country Buffet or 4’ x 8’ discount is to be given at all, the firefighter who worked around the clock to maintain the raging summer flames deserves it as much as a single mother in the Army.

It isn’t just a matter of “supporting the troops,” respect, or debts to society at this point — the system rewards, as I said, individuals on their willingness to volunteer for one job instead of another. In other words, by not paying homage to other professionals in this country who do equally valid work, we create a dangerous hierarchy in our system that treats people as if they are more deserving of discounts than another who, due to medical reasons, couldn’t enlist or was more passionate about serving their country as a counselor at the public middle school.

Businesses are stratifying our society (further than it already is), with military discounts by putting the group of individuals who serve in the military at the cusp, based on what I deem to be irrelevant factors, such as the riskiness of the job, annual pay and respect.

Those are not justifiable reasons to offer a military discount. So not handing out discounts isn’t a sign of disrespect; it’s a sign of unequal recognition of all. From my standpoint, enlisting in the military was a personal choice, just as much as it was for everyone else to choose another profession. Besides, who decided that if a business doesn’t offer the 10 percent military discount they don’t support troops?

We should not offer a 10 percent discount off the price of a movie ticket as a consolation discount for volunteering for the military. If a discount for those who have chosen risky professions is insisted upon, then we need to offer it to all or none.

Who receives discounts should not be determined by the riskiness of the job. If you can’t put a price on a life, then you can’t put discounts on it either.

Click here to see a response from Collegian opinion columnist Lauren Stieritz.