What it is to be a Veteran

By Robert “Bob” Kickenweitz

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

 I, (state your name), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” That is the Oath of Enlistment that everybody who enters the military takes, regardless of branch.

From this point on, I was officially part of the armed forces of America, and the one thing I never thought about back on April 20, 1966, was that once I took the oath it wasn’t for just the period of time I was in the military but for my entire lifetime. You see, there is no time limit on the oath.
If you have never been in the military at a time of war, this probably never enters your mind that once you’re a veteran you will always be a veteran. What you have seen, heard, smelled or felt during your tour of duty will always be with you. I was in Vietnam for 11 months and 21 days, some of my brothers and sisters were there for a shorter period time and some for longer period of time. But I bet if you asked them “When were you there?” The majority of them would say, “I was there last night.”

Just because one is not physically there after any amount of years doesn’t mean they are not there mentally. War is a horrific thing, an experience that nobody should have to go through, but with the world as it is today, it’s becoming a fact of life.

 I think most people believe that once a veteran returns home from military service, they just fold back into the civilian ranks and become part of the society they were once a part of. The problem is, it takes eight weeks of basic training and an additional eight weeks of advanced training in fields ranging from Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Combat Engineering to get to the point that you can go face to face with the enemy and can kill him. This is not an easy thing to do.

The problem arises when as a veteran you are not trained to be a part of society again. You have serviced your country after a period of time and now are on your own. Where is my eight weeks in training and eight weeks of advanced training to get me back to where I was before I was trained to kill the enemy? This is the problem, and it’s not being addressed!

I love this country, and I’m sure all veterans do, or we would not have served her in the first place. Nearly 1 in 3 Vietnam veterans have experienced PTSD in their lifetime. A lot of veterans need help, please just give them your support, it goes a long way!