Are Military Vets More Deserving Than Single Civilian Parents?

Why America should reconsider its near-worship of military vets and retirees

Glenn Rocess

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A single mother and her child (ParentMap.com)

“Thank you for your service.”

I’ve heard that phrase so many times that I’m really, truly tired of it. Yes, I spent 20 years in the Navy, and yes, I nearly died (and have the scars from 140+ stitches and staples on my scalp to prove it), but please stop thanking me for my service! Why? Because most military retirees view our service with deep gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve.

I joined in 1981, and our military was still in a post-Vietnam funk. Morale was low, and it showed in our uniforms, our conduct, and in the material condition of our ships, installations, and equipment. Pay was relatively low, new recruits were no longer eligible for the Vietnam G.I. Bill for college benefits, and many of us were ashamed to be seen in uniform off base.

When I took the Oath of Enlistment, Reagan had been president for just over eight months. Over the next seven years-and-change, the military — and America’s attitude towards the military — was transformed. Some of it had to do with Hollywood’s action flicks starring Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, and others. There were movies like “Top Gun”, part of which was filmed on my ship, the USS Ranger (CV 61). Even the Star Trek franchise got in on it, filming part of “Star Trek IV” on the Ranger (though we were supposed to be the Enterprise in the movie) — the scene below was in my engine room at the time. It’s pretty cool to watch the movie, knowing that was where I worked.

Um, no, that’s not a nuclear reactor on the USS Enterprise (CV 65)— it was the #2 Main Machinery Room console booth from where we controlled the conventional boilers and associated machinery needed to provide 1200 PSI steam to power the #2 screw on the USS Ranger (CV-61) (YouTube)

By the end of the Reagan presidency, the military had turned completely around. We had once more become proud of our service, and no longer felt unwelcome when we were seen wearing our uniforms off base. For all the great and lasting damage that Reagan did to our economy — we’re still in the thrall of low-tax ‘trickle-down’ economics today — and to our image around the world (South and Central America regime change policies, support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War (even including shipments of…

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Glenn Rocess

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.