In Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the Terran Federation is a limited democracy in which full citizenship comes with a price. Earning citizenship and suffrage — the right to vote — was accomplished by two years of voluntary Federal Service (AKA military service). The concept that a society be made of people who have contributed to their country and government was important to Heinlein, who served in the Navy after graduating from the Naval Academy. Earning that voice in government, in Heinlein’s eyes, is better than anyone “who is 18 years old and has a body temperature near 37 °C.”
The idea that veterans are deeply rewarded for their sacrifice is an admirable one; something that would inspire appreciation for gained freedoms and instill a foundation of work ethic. In our society, veterans make analogous sacrifices. First, they pledge an allegiance to uphold the longstanding tradition of morals and honor of their respective country. Second, they knowingly surrender various birth-given rights and are held to a higher standard for their actions. Third, they play their specific role in an organization that provides and maintains the security of freedom for all countrymen. And fourth, they do so with meager compensation and the occasional “thank you.”
Some might say that the veteran has chosen their fate; their own volition led them into their job just as a civilian has chosen theirs. Yet the difference is that veteran made that decision knowing what was at stake. The Airman who works on jets or the Ranger who puts two rounds into a terrorist consciously made a decision that subjects them to the needs of their respective branch. They chose to reduce their freedom so that you and I can under appreciate ours.
Many of you will feel noble on these holidays by publicly saying, “Thank you, troops,” but your words will only accomplish so much. Your support does mean something to a veteran, but you can do so much more with action. While all service members sacrifice, some leave war with mental or physical scars while others return home in a casket draped with their flag. What remains is a person struggling to cope, whether it be with what they could have done to save their best friend or how to move on without their spouse in their life.
70’s Big and I ask you to do more than just speak words today. I ask you to donate $1 to two foundations: The Wounded Warrior Project and The Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Both are legitimate organizations that help veterans or their remaining families in a variety of ways (read their mission statements here and here respectively). I make no apology for asking you to donate your hard-earned, well deserved money; I know it’s hard to come by in today’s economy, yet show your thanks to these veterans with action. I can tell you that veterans, including the fallen or disabled, are powerlifters, weightlifters, strength trainees, CrossFitters, bodybuilders, and S&C enthusiasts. They are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends. Some of them need more than words and we have the ability to help them. $1 for each charity is all I ask for you to show that you truly support your troops (Update: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation has a $10 minimum).
(Non-American countries can post equivalent charity foundations in the comments)
Thank you to current and past veterans for making the choice to serve your country at the expense of limiting the most important values of all: freedom and liberty.