If you can show proof you're a veteran today, you can get free red, white and blue pancakes at IHOP or take advantage of the BOGO burrito or taco deal at Chipotle. In fact you could get a whole bunch of freebies around town.
These corporate brands mean well, I'm sure. But when you're trained to work for everything you've got -- every minute of every day for about four or more years , it feels a bit weird to cash in on all that by accepting a piece of pie or free haircut.
That's how I feel about it anyway.
My enlistment in the United States Navy ended in 2002 and I've never taken any of these chains up on their offer, but that probably had more to do with feeling guilty that I wasn't still active duty.
Those still serving deserve free stuff, partly for putting their lives on the line, but mostly because of the criminally low pay. Many of my old submarine crew are still huffing recycled air and eating boiled potatoes from cans (which we called snake eggs), while I get such amenities as sunlight and privacy? And to think of the vets who actually lost limbs in service? Who the hell do I think I am?
To be clear, if I knew of a place giving away free whiskey, you can bet this sailor will check his modesty at the door. And I would never begrudge another vet taking the day and getting as much as they can, because a lot are in need and struggling. But I think a lot of veterans think like me. They didn't earn it, so they don't deserve it.
From Hero to Zero (Respect)
This isn’t a new phenomenon. After World War II, the government offered unemployed vets $20 a week for 52 weeks through the GI Bill. Adjusted for inflation, that's $247.62/week, or less than $1,000/month.