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On Sacrifice

By Zachary Newman

“Thank you for your service.” This is something that every service member will inevitably hear at one point or another. These are the words that we all dread. I can barely get a burrito at Chipotle without someone uttering these words to me. It is the generic tagline that people use when they want to wear their ideologies on their sleeve and something that can make them feel better about sending us away for months to years at a time.  I have a better proposition.

The main problem with these words is the presumption that we all are doing this for some underlying patriotic reason. Sure, that may be part of it, but most of us see this as a job. Yes, it is much more than that. However, we don’t usually see it that way since we have adopted this lifestyle. We accept it. We do it over and over again. We are volunteers. This has nothing to do with our politics or where we see ourselves in the bigger picture. We get paid to provide a service, so you don’t need to thank us for that.

The effects of the service tend to have a bigger impact on us. From experience, I can say that sacrifice is really the core of what we do. We leave our towns, families, wives, husbands, or children for prolonged periods to strange and stressful places and environments. The things we do on a daily basis are more than even some of the most resilient normal citizens would be willing to handle. This speaks to the kind of people we are. We don’t ask for much, don’t need validation, and definitely do not want to be thanked for doing our jobs.

The real problem is what was mentioned above, and that is the emotional and physical costs that the service causes. Marriages are torn apart. Children no longer know their parents. People often come back different than when they left. Death. Damage. Emotional devastation. Anxiety. Bodily damage. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Depression. Suicide. You want to thank us for that? That is service to you?

Let us talk about what service is. Service is what happens at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  It happens are McDonald’s and Jiffy Lube. That painful papercut you got at the office last week is service. Service is providing a need to a consumer. We do that, but not in the same way.

Sacrifice is what our business is. We raise our hands and ask to be thrown into the worst imaginable circumstances. We deal with the consequences every single day. We are the .01%. Go ahead and kneel, enjoy your Starbucks, complain about traffic. Next time you see that uniformed person in line at Chipotle, don’t thank them for their service, but instead say, “thank you for your sacrifice.”

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