Thank you to all who have served and continue to serve our great country! The status of veteran has been and should continue to be something that is held in high regard and shown respect. Those who serve in the military are more than deserving of acknowledgement for the great sacrifices they make. Unfortunately, there is an individual who is making claims that veterans are not just members of the military… but should also include social justice warriors.
In a recent article, UMass professor, Dr. Blumenfeld, questioned the parameters of the term ‘veteran.’ Here we go, hold onto your seats, this is going to get good. He says, “I have long thought, though, about whom our country includes in its socially-constructed category of “veteran.” Currently, that classification remains limited to those honorably serving in our armed forces.” Can you see where this is headed? Do you hear the social justice warriors in the background? The professor then asks us to question this term more deeply. He says, “Can we as a nation begin now to consider expanding the category of “veteran” to include…activists…?” Are you rolling your eyes yet?
Here is my response to this absurdity:
No, Dr. Blumenfeld, I might be going out on a limb here by guessing, but I presume you are not a veteran and, in all fairness, neither am I. With that in mind, challenging veterans and attempting to include others in this category is ridiculous. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, a veteran is “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service…” While the term may have broader usage, such as a veteran teacher or a veteran doctor, it is safe to say that polite society comprehends the difference, or at least it should.
Let’s get real and remember that veterans are actual warriors. Warriors fight in wars and in conflicts. Activists, otherwise known as social justice warriors, are not warriors. They have hijacked this word to give more importance to what they do. Social justice warriors scream, yell and often complain. This, however, does not make you a warrior. If we used that term in its broadest sense, then a three-year-old child would be a warrior. Don’t they scream, yell and make demands?
By broadening the concept of the term veteran to make the rest of society feel battle-hardened, we are disrespecting true veterans. Blumenfeld argues, “But true patriots and veterans are also those who speak out, stand up, and put their lives on the line by actively advocating for justice, freedom, and liberty…” Let’s pause again. Yes, patriots speak out for their beliefs, as do veterans. But social justice warriors are not engaged in an actual physical war to defend the homeland. So, let’s tone down that spicy rhetoric a few notches. If not, we will all have a case of severe verbal heartburn.
I do not agree with the following: “But take a few moments to consider those fighting a cultural and figurative civil war to reduce the violence and injustice and place the United States in higher standing around the world.” That’s a sharp NO, Dr. Blumenfeld. Figurative war is in no way comparable to actual war. It is a mockery to imply that. Has history shown us some true activists who fight for justice? Absolutely! But should we call them veterans and warriors? A resounding NO. That is not to diminish their victories or their platforms, but activists are activists. They represent a social cause. Yes, injustices exist as do social causes. And most likely we all partake in supporting some sort of cause. As Americans, we have a strong desire to help one another and support those in need. And as Christians, we too support others, not just in the name of religion, but because we want to. Does that make us warriors or veterans? NO! It makes us human beings who care to help and serve others; No recognition or label required.
Veterans of war deserve to be acknowledged for their acts of valor and their devotion to our country. Let veterans have their category. They serve our country and put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. They have earned their acknowledgement and sadly, do not receive enough of it. Every day is veteran’s day, or at least it should be. So, take a moment to remember those who have served and those who currently serve our country. Their sacrifices deserve honor, respect and gratitude!
Lauren E. Forcucci, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and proud American. She is the daughter of an immigrant, the granddaughter of a veteran, and a friend and supporter of active-duty military, veterans, and police. She’s also a proud Whiskey Patriot.