Over the last few years, since I’ve retired from the Navy, my eyes have been opened to what it means (seemingly) to be a civilian. People of all walks of life, with all ranges of abilities, seem to feel like they are owed something. I’m not sure where this comes from, or how it perpetuates, but it saddens me. Rather than working to make their lives better, or perish the thought, helping somebody else improve their situation; they wait and wait for somebody to give them a handout. If this doesn’t apply to you – stop reading; or continue and help me find ways to fix it. : )
I’m a retired, disabled vet – I feel I’ve earned the benefits I receive from the VA. I’m grateful for programs like Yellow Ribbon, but I recognize I’m not owed this. The same goes for getting discounts at stores. There is nothing written anywhere that a store needs to provide an Active Duty member or veteran any type of discount. If they do – great. But if they don’t I wouldn’t say that automatically makes them “unpatriotic” or whatever else you want to call them. The whole point of going into business is to make money, not provide charity (unless you’re a non-profit). You have no idea what cause(s) the business owner supports, or what reasons they have for doing/not doing something. If you care that much about your discount – inquire within (politely & professionally); but they don’t owe you an answer so don’t be upset if you’re shown the door.
The same goes for this push to employ Veterans. I think it’s awesome, but I think we are deluding ourselves if we believe this going to be the status quo indefinitely. Active Duty military (and veterans) need to think about life post-service – what makes them marketable. What jobs have they done in the military that will translate into something an employer is willing to pay for. Think about your soft skills – conflict resolution, communication skills, etc… Leverage these on your resume and interviews. Most importantly – don’t hesitate to network with those who have never served. Will they “get” you, maybe not – but who cares?! They’ll pay you, and at the end of the day that’s why you’re talking to them in the first place, right?
I can also relate to families with Special Needs. Here I’m willing to soften my stance a bit, because more needs to be done to manage their expectations. When a child is diagnosed with a disability typically the school system provides a LOT of support. The family is ENTITLED to this support, it’s their right. However, this entitlement STOPS when the child leaves High School – through graduation or aging out at 21. Here is where I find families getting themselves into a bind.
They’ve grown so used to being able to turn to somebody for services or answers they’ve grown to expect it. When their child becomes an adult they want the same treatment, but that’s not how our system works. I do my best, and I think schools could/should do a much better job, to educate families about what happens when their child leaves school. DDA and support organizations will screen the individual, and provide services based upon need and the resources they have. These resources are finite, they come from our tax dollars; so it’s very likely you will not get everything you think you need/deserve.
Parents, relatives, loved ones and friends need to be proactive and think about life after school. What can they do now to help their child have a successful transition. This probably means they will need to start working on it before the school comes to them and says let’s discuss transition. Yes, the school is required to help families with the transition process, but this is your child and nobody is going to care as much as you do. Leverage the schools, but do your own homework. Network with families that have made the transition, often you can learn more from somebody with a not so successful story than you can from somebody who had everything fall into place.
Yes, there are people who have entitlements, and should absolutely do everything in their power to get what they deserve. Organizations like the DAV and VFW are phenomenal resources for veterans, and cost nothing – you don’t need to be a member to be helped. In many other cases you will need to do some research. Maybe it means hiring an attorney to take your case – good attorneys will let you know ahead of time whether you have a case or not. At the end of the day though, you are the one being affected – so whether you’re entitled or not it’s in your best interest to plan for the worst case scenario.