The Division of Generation Y

Updated: October 31, 2013


By Raul Felix

America’s Generation Y can be divided into two distinct groups: Those who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, such as myself, and those who didn’t. Taking an educated guess, I assume a lion’s share of the readership of Thought Catalog are liberal arts degree bearing, student-loan debt ridden types who think those who joined the military were too stupid to go to college and were unaware cogs in the political war machine run by evil multi-national corporations with the goal of maximizing profit and exploiting the lower class. In turn, we think you’re a bunch of overly sensitive, pretentious, hyper-liberal pussies, so its even. Now, let’s begin to gain an understanding of each other’s perspective.

Our memories of our formative years are quite different. You headed out into early adulthood going to community college or university, be it full-time or part-time. You may have gotten a student loan, a scholarship, paid for it yourself, or used your parents. You may have gone to college parties, lived in the dorms, lost your virginity, and lived in an environment where you were constantly meeting new people while smoking weed. You studied with your classmates in the library and bitched about eating Ramen. The opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex were bountiful if you chose to take advantage of them. Your major causes of stress were your grades and classes. You had no idea what you wanted to do after graduation, but you’d figure it out when you had your diploma.

We headed out into early adulthood by arriving at some soul-crushing military base in the asshole region of some mid-west or southern state. We got yelled at, gave up every single bit of freedom we had, got our balls smoked off, and were taught to do things the way the military wanted us to do. After basic combat training and our job-specific school, we were assigned to our unit where we had to deal with more military bull shit on a daily basis. For men in all male units, meeting women was rare and our best shot was just walking around the local mall or using myspace because we were too young to go to bars. Our major causes of stress was the fear of pissing off our team leader or squad leader and thus getting our world destroyed. We had no idea what we wanted do to after the military, but we’d figure it out once we got out.

Your major tests were your finals, ours was going to war. You discussed the moral questions, the legality, and made pro or anti-war arguments. We were there, whether we believed in it or not. You heard and read about it from the news; we lived it. You wondered how safe it was over there. Some of us never left the wire and conducted support jobs on the base. You wondered whether those couple of people you knew who were deployed were okay. Some of us left the wire every night and conducted direct-action raids to kill or capture the key leaders of the local insurgency. Unless they were from your hometown or were a family member, you didn’t know any of those killed in action. For a lot of us, there were too many of them we personally knew. Some of you were pro-war. Some of us killed. Some of you were anti-war. Some of us never fired a single shot in combat.

You held the very important responsibility of passing all your classes and getting good grades. You strived for that internship which would help you get your dream job. You fantasized about moving to the city, being part of a vibrant social scene as you worked a well paying and fulfilling job. We held the very important responsibility of learning to be proficient at our job so we didn’t fuck up and accidentally kill our buddies. We strived for that promotion to the next rank so we would have to deal with less bull shit and be treated like human beings again. We fantasized about getting out, attending college using our GI Bill and smoking weed by the beach as we lived the college years we missed out on.

soldierYou grew up in a culture dominated by overt political correctness and thought of the opinions of some your professors as gospel. You spent your summer in your hometown working some low-paying gig and partying it up at night. Your idea of a brutal winter was when the heating system went down in the dorm rooms for a couple of days. These two wars were barely on your radar, since it didn’t directly effect you and your daily life. You even forgot we were still in Afghanistan in the mid-00’s because all the focus was on Iraq.

We grew up in a culture dominated by masculinity and thought of our Platoon Sergeants as demigods, even though they may have been only 26 or 27, we lived in total fear and awe of him. We sweated our balls off in the scorching heat of the Iraqi summer and froze our balls off in the blistering winter of Afghanistan. For us, it was not if we were going to go, but when. Our lives were dominated by deployments and training to be deployed. Some of us popped our deployment cherries in the mountains of Afghanistan and other’s in the streets of Iraq.

You made friends with your classmates; we made friends with the people in our platoons and companies. You had a terrible break-up your sophomore year in college that caused you to fail one of your classes. We had a terrible break-up while deployed, but drove-on and struggled to keep our mind on our job, fully knowing the person we loved was back home fucking someone else. You had the option of dropping out of college when it became too much to handle, we were locked in for the X number of years we signed up for.

We’re the same generation, yet, we had such a different experience of what the world was. For you, that semester you spent studying abroad meeting new people, tasting strange foods, visiting the tourist sites, and were introduced to new ideas were defining moments in your life. For us, the defining moments were those months spent in a war torn-land where any person in the population could be an insurgent, where we saw the cities through the green hue of our night vision goggles, and were introduced to new insurgent tactics and counter-insurgency tactics. Just like you, it drove us to understand the world in a deeper sense. We read books, articles, and watched documentaries about the middle east and the world in general, in turn we learned to determine our own thoughts and opinions on it.

We were both set loose on the same economic gaggle-fuck of a real world that the Baby Boomers and Generation X left us with. We were both lied to: When you got out of college and couldn’t find a job that made use of your expensive Communications degree that taught you how to comprehend the nature of human communication, the symbol systems by which it functions, and the environments in which it occurs, you went to live with the folks until you figured shit out. When we got out of the military and couldn’t find jobs that made use of our expensive training that taught us how to jump out of airplanes, fast rope out of helicopters, lead men, and conduct close-quarter combat, we went to live with our folks until we figured shit out.

Now with the Iraq War over and Afghanistan drawing to a close, we’re attempting to find our individual identities, independent of being a veteran. We’re attending your colleges, working at your jobs, and starting our own businesses. We’re a creative bunch with stories to tell and are working our asses off to become writers, film makers, actors, photographers, and artists. We’re seeking to become professionals and thus attending your medical, law, and business schools. We may have had a later start in life on our formal education, but our real world knowledge runs deep. We don’t think we’re better than you and don’t want your sympathy. We know we volunteered for the job and did it to the best of our ability. In essence, we know there is one key difference between us: we’ve already been through the hardest time in our lives, whatever else the world throws at us, we can handle it. TC mark


Originally posted at Thought Catalog and reprinted with permission from the author and editor.




  1. Sgt B

    October 31, 2013 at 10:41 am

    The newest generation of warriors, after joining The Ultimate Fraternity, now joins the ranks of the Rest Of Us, and sees what the Rest Of Us grumble about at the local VFW… Welcome aboard, young Warrior! (Thank you for your Service and your Sacrifice!)

  2. Megan

    October 31, 2013 at 10:43 am

    And some of us did both.

    • Giancarlo

      October 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm


    • Mike

      November 1, 2013 at 9:37 am

      He referenced that in the article. He said,”We’re attending your colleges”. Just pointing out the obvious…

      • Martin

        November 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

        Maybe some went to college before the military. Just pointing out the obvious.

  3. Ron Dot'o

    October 31, 2013 at 12:23 pm


  4. shawn pokorski

    October 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I have to disagree with the post completely. Just because I didn’t storm some beach head under fire or jumped out of a perfectly good plane, doesn’t mean my life hasn’t been tough. This post ignores those in Gen Y who lived in crime ridden ghettos, got jobs a cops or corrections officers and have to work about going home every day. Those fancy night vision goggles and green lasers were make by the geek who went to college (which you clearly dismiss) and then spent years eating ramen noodles to pay their loans. I’m from a military family and I am proud of what my family did, although I choose not to serve. Yeah, you went to Iraq and Afghanistan, and yeah, we both got lied to, but so what you went: as you so rightly stated: you signed up for it.

    • leftoftheboom

      October 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Learn to read. He said there are valid differences to explore, not to use against one another. However, No you did not walk in my shoes and yes I volunteered for it.

      But, You and the rest could leave whatever issue you had that caused you problems. You could walk away, try something different, go to a different place. If you were handed a shitty deck of cards, you could have turned them in and gotten new ones. The military does not give you that option. You play the cards you got. So take your offence and go look in the mirror at the person who is responsible for your lot in life.

      Oh and I did not get lied too. I am one of the ones that did the lying. My shit sandwich had nice dry bread on it.

    • VP

      October 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      I completely agree with you. I’m in the military and I don’t think that civilians are doing anything less for nation. Just because you didn’t join the army does not make you any better or worse than we are. This author in no way represents the views of the Army in entirety.

      • Mike

        November 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

        “I don’t think that civilians are doing anything less for nation.” WHAT!?!? How is it that civilians are doing the same for this country? It doesn’t make civilians any worse or anything but they aren’t committing their lives for 4 years or more in the service of the U.S.A, with the potential to die while doing it. I would love to hear you expound upon that statement.

        • Andrew

          November 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm

          Before anyone starts beating their dicks on the keyboard after reading my post, I’m saying That this is my opinion, not fact, and I hold nothing against soldiers for joining or civilians for staying out. It’s a choice and I’m neutral. However, this post is heavily skewed and opinionated towards those who served, as I sort of expected it to. Servicemen, after coming home, are statistically more likely to be hired to a job or accepted into a university when compared to those who don’t serve. That’s fact. But as a civilian, it makes it hard. Sure, we may live without threat of being mortared at night, and of course eating ramen in a dorm is definitely not as bad as an MRE in Fallujah, but not everyone in Generation Y went out and partied all night. Everyone wasn’t a pot smoking womanizer like portrayed in the post. Not everyone thought they were entitled to anything. I get that life was beyond tough in the military, but not everyone can cut it, as it should be. Be proud if you can, but some can’t. It doesn’t make them weak sauce lazy pot smoking bitches. Plenty of people struggle through long nights of studying to become a nurse or engineer or accountant, along with those who work long, hard hours to scrape the bucket with their earnings to sustain themselves. There are those who take liberal arts majors, but they’re again a minority, and definitely not representative of the “other half” of Generation Y, which also is skewed because half of the generation was not pure military. Some people want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, financial advisers, or others of the thousands of careers in the US.

          The job market is hard, too. Between 2 identical students, if one has military service, they take him. Companies will take servicemen with no prior experience in the field over a 5+ years experienced civilian. It’s because servicemen have done one of the hardest jobs and can work their asses of. Does this mean they’ll be a good accountant? Not necessarily, but since they served, they get the job. To boot, Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers (?) are filling up jobs because they mucked it up for everyone. Now how does that “easy” college life sound? You might get a good job at a grocery store or decent restaurant, but with the rising experience needed, it’s not easy for civilians either. Everything isn’t on a silver platter back home either. The military feeds you, clothes you, gives you somewhere to sleep, for as long as you’re in. Then there’s all the benefits once you get out. Maybe the GI bill doesn’t cover the fact that you were shot at, yelled at, and pushed to your limits, but at the same time it’s something civilians don’t get handed to us.

          Just something to consider. Not everyone who doesn’t (or couldn’t) serve is a pothead named Jodie fucking girlfriends of soldiers nationwide while attending some 2-bit community college majoring in Liberal Arts or Social Studies, bitching about how the local Kroger/Publix/Fred Meyer/whatever didn’t have beef ramen so they have to deal with chicken. There’s hard working Americans back home, too.

          • Geof

            November 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm


            I’m not sure what America you might be living in, but I’d like to visit it some time. “…Companies will take servicement with no prior experience in the field over a 5+ years experienced civilian…”

            Really? And this is why even though I have a bachelors of science in business, 6 years of HR experience as an instructor and in the field, and (now) over 12 years of verifiable leadership experience at the team to department(platoon) level that I am unable to find full time employment in any industry that I have applied to? Tell me again how they’ll take a serviceman with no ‘relate-able’ experience over an experienced civilian again, because in the 8 years that I’ve been trying to get into jobs that I am actually qualified for, the most common response is: “You don’t have enough non-military experience, sorry”

        • Mike

          November 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

          Fuck you. Get over your shit. Try to get a job at my company once your silly-ass gets home. Oh wait…I’m a “civilian”, I bring nothing to table.

          The cold, hard reality is simple. Without civilians, you are worthless. You need us, far more than we need you. Eat shit and get off of your high fucking horse. Dickbag.

          • JMC

            November 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

            “You need us far more than we need you.” Um, excuse me, but where would the freedoms this nation enjoys be without us to defend them? Without us and others like us, this nation would have been overrun any number of times by enemies, just in the past hundred years. There would have been no Cold War; the Commies would have just come and taken over. (In a sense, they did anyway, but that’s another issue.) I was in a so-called “peacetime” military, but others of us got sent to places like Kosovo as part of joint UN forces, and those of us “behind the wire” supported them. And those of us fortunate enough to spend enough time Stateside even went to college AT THE SAME TIME. In short, there’s no one side needs the other more than vice-versa; we both need each other equally. And you might try ditching the foul language and treating people with respect, even (or especially) those whose opinions differ from yours.

          • Dominic

            November 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm

            Then come stand up on the wall with me.

            I’ve got no horse in this fight. I’m medically disabled from my time in. I’m currently a full time student and fully employed in a major US company where I use the training I got in the military every day. But hey man. If the civilian world is so hard, Enlist like I did. It’ll teach you how to survive.

        • Jared

          November 11, 2013 at 7:34 am

          Everyone serves in a different way. Without farmers none of us would be eating. Without teachers we would be an ignorant society. Without doctors we would have the healthcare that we do. There are so many professions that contribute to a healthy society each day. Soldiers play a role in that but there are plenty of countries that are doing great with no standing army. I think the rhetoric needs to be put aside. Everyone chooses there own path, tries to learn from it and does the best they can in life.

          • LDK

            November 12, 2013 at 1:14 am

            One thing to point out.. The US spent nearly 200 yrs of its existence being uncomfortable with having a standing army, and since the 40s we have had a huge standing army.. anyway I think in the civilian world ppl that are tougher than military: Peace Corps Volunteers. Anyone that thinks service in the peace corps is a vacation is in for a rude awakening. PCVs are some of the craziest and toughest people I’ve met in the expat world. Military is indeed pampered in this regard. Try living in a straw hut, no basic utilities, don’t be sent to a country with an actual winter, because there will be no heaters for you. go months without bathing, no running water, everything you eat and drink makes you sick, gives you a parasite. You slowly realize PCVs have a high mortality rate. You’re isolated, often the only american for hundreds of miles. While you think this is fine as crime is lower in a lot of countries peace corps is in. being a PCV makes you a target. having to hear about a colleague of mine getting knifed in the face because she wouldn’t hand over her bag to robbers is well yea.. in short PCVs do not get a standard issue weapon, if they break a rule for self-preservation they’re out. if they break a law even if they didn’t mean to like “religious proselytizing” when really they were defending themselves verbally because they receive extreme religious harassment to the point of having stones thrown at them everyday on their commute to work and home. Peace Corps takes the local authorities side, will throw you under the bus fast. You have to have a certain intuition and intelligence to be a PCV, also you need perseverance as anything you try to do at the first attempt will fail. Oh don’t get sent to a new site, because then that’s when you will deal with the worse kind of harassment. from local authorities that think you’re CIA. To be honest, military is a great option compared to peace corps, but I really take offense when military men and women get smug about things, when really they don’t know what’s going on on the other side.

    • doug price

      November 1, 2013 at 4:03 am

      Crime ridden streets, corrections, prison? You are absolutely wrong in comparing your life on the outside to combat and military life. You completely misread everyhing he posted and now you decide to make a claim that is far from valid.
      I am glad you didnt join, you wouldnt make it through boot.

      • Amy H

        November 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Thank you. As a civilian – I highly doubt it’s easier for vets to re-enter the workforce. If it were, the non-profit i work for wouldn’t try so hard to help them enter the work force. Even if it is easier for them – THEY DESERVE IT!!!!

        My college life wasn’t as portrayed in this post – but who cares? The point is, they had it so much harder than we did and deserve to be rewarded for it.

        Thank you to all who served. I wasn’t cut out for it. But maybe I can help those coming home. That’s all I can do.

    • Mike

      November 1, 2013 at 9:42 am

      I don’t see why you took offense to this post. He clearly stated that was not his intent. It seems to me that you may have an inferiority complex. Maybe it stems from those that served in the military in your family having a different connection, one that you feel left out of. And I don’t think too many are impressed by your cop and correction officer analogy.

    • Whitey

      November 1, 2013 at 10:44 am


      First, he wasn’t degrading anybody, just offering comparison and contrast. Second, being a cop or prison guard is not the same as military service. Law enforcement is an honorable, necessary, and potentially hazardous profession. The same can be said of firefighting. But it is disingenuous to make the claim that either is “just like” the military.

      I have never been in the military. I have been a firefighter since before I graduated high school. I have risked my life, crawled into burning buildings wearing breathing apparatus that provides maybe 15-25 minutes of breathable air, pulled hose up steep hills on vegetation fires where you just have to man up and eat the smoke, performed CPR and intubations while freezing my ass off in two feet of snow, sweated my balls off training in full gear in California summer heat, slept in the dirt, gone without sleep, and ate MREs. Does that compare with what veterans experienced? No.

      Whatever I may have done that the average citizen hasn’t, I have never conducted combat patrols, ran into an ambush, been shot at, or manned a checkpoint. The occasional pipe bomb I have encountered doesn’t play in the same league as the VBIEDs the troops regularly encounter. My training was physically tough and involved instructors yelling and swearing at me. It also allowed me to go home at night, and I was free to quit if I didn’t like it. Therefore I wouldn’t even try to compare it with boot camp. Once I got hired, it was often pretty tough, and forced overtime was/is commonplace, but I still get to go home, take vacations, see my wife and kid(s) on a semiregular basis, and I still have the option of quitting if I don’t like it.

      Our veterans signed up for a training program much harder than a fire or LE academy, and were STUCK for the period they signed up for (and sometimes longer) whether they liked it (some do) or not. Those assigned to combat arms then went to war, which we can all agree is pretty much the ultimate suck. Support troops who deployed and stayed behind the wire still experienced hardships that ordinary Americans would never imagine. Sailors at sea were stuck on the ship (definitely not a vacation). Troops stationed stateside live a far more regimented and restricted life than ordinary citizens.

      This doesn’t mean that people who didn’t enlist or at least work in public service don’t make a meaningful and necessary contribution to society. They ARE society. But those who volunteered to be the defenders of that society (regardless of your opinions on the war) have had a very VERY different experience of the world. We make opinions based on 10-second video clips and “I know a guy who…” anecdotes. They base their opinions on personal real-world experience which was often unpleasant.

      They have seen what reality is like outside the comfortable touchy-feely boundaries of American/Western civilization. Their perspective is vastly different and no less valid than the rest of ours. This article just illustrates the general differences. It’s not offensive, it’s honest. So ease up on the butthurt.

      • dan

        November 3, 2013 at 10:07 am

        You said it right on the money whitey

      • Jerry

        November 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm

        While they aren’t the same, huge respect to our firefighters and LEOs. Don’t sell yourself short. You also put your lives on the line; many have actually seen more danger than many of our service members.

        Retired Marine with 1/4 in OIF I with two subsequent deployments and have nothing but respect for firemen & LEOs.

    • Clay

      November 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

      Lol. What annoys me is people like you thinking their lives are as hard as those who got or saw people ripped in half in places like sadr city.

      • LDK

        November 12, 2013 at 1:20 am

        As a PCV, I saw a woman beaten within an inch of her life and was told by peace corps staff to never intervene in those events, as a civilian that lived abroad before PC. I had witnessed suicide bombings, I was in bangkok in 2009 during the unrest. Imagine a gun pointed to your face on a bus as you’re told to leave, no one is moving? oh they just blow off the woman sitting next to me head and that got us going, they used the bus as bombs against military tanks. I was in Japan in 2011 during the tsunami. I watched as the town I called home was destroyed in little under an hr. there weren’t that many able-bodied men left alive and the few of us had to hike between the evacuation centers to make sure there were enough supplies in circulation (this was very dangerous and a few people died of hypothermia during those three weeks of isolation). So don’t sit there and think all civilians have had it easy. Some of us had it tough. and I appreciate and love the service our military does.. The US Navy and Airforce the following weeks saved millions of lives in the Tohoku region of JApan that year. I remember the first meal I had in two weeks was corned beef dropped in by US military. Was the best meal of my life (beforehand food was scarce so only children were given food). Anyway I am back in America now, all of my mis-adventures. I never once allowed my experiences to make me think that I was better than everyone else. Even if I am now an RPCV with a master’s degree and extremely world traveled. None of that matters when it comes to who I am as a human, and what it means to connect with other people.

  5. TSK

    October 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    The guard adds another interesting twist. Survive as a civilian but deploy once every two years. Integrate but keep the mind-set of a warrior while you do so. Turn it on, turn it off again. That’s like 0 to 100% for a drill weekend or deployment and then back to 0% the next day.

    • just another Dirt Bag

      November 2, 2013 at 12:28 am

      Except you can never really turn it all the way off. You offend people, alienate classmates, you tell the yuppy douche couple that your wife invited over for dinner how full of shit they are…Then ur up reading the rhino den on a friday night and finishing the Wild Turkey that you’d hope would last till next week

  6. 375MRSJr.

    October 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Great article!

    I was just gonna write one about the AF, Navy, Army REMFs who walk around my campus like they’ve been out the wire. Then you ask them what they did and their greatest adventures were hooking up with the Filipina serving chow and offering “massages” during her downtime.

    Keep writing, bro!!!

    • TRo156

      November 1, 2013 at 12:03 am

      For every person that goes outside the wire, there are 10 that provide support. Many Sailors volunteered, many more were voluntold. Part of the deal made between the services was that Navy was supposed to do the jobs they were sent there for, not the BS work that the Army didn’t want their people to do. I became close with my Army Brothers and Sisters, maybe you should show a little appreciation to your fellow vets instead of comparing cock size. Many Sailors have died, including two MOH winners, yes the SEALs are Sailors, we claim them! I don’t recall the Taliban giving a crap whether I was a Sailor or a Soldier when they were shooting at me. Considering many of the Army had Sundays off in the war zone, you have no room to talk anyway.

      • uw0tm8

        November 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        Unless YOU were a SEAL/SWCC or Corpsman with the Marines, don’t think you can compare your time in the Navy to anything combat soldiers do.

        I never had a Sunday off, for what it’s worth. You are probably thinking of the Army fobbits that lived with you on whatever cush base you had.

  7. CRiggs

    October 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm


    He wasn’t degrading you with the article. He was simply stating that we both went through difficult times (militar/civilians). Your issues were different than ours. We know that some civilians went through rough times in the ghetto, became cops, or became correctional professionals. They faced unique challenges that the rest of the civilian world couldn’t fathom. But, the challenges facing the military are different. We are deployed to a soup sandwhich of a country with only each other to rely on. Unless you have served, you can’t know. You can’t know what indirect fire dropping around your platoon feels like, getting hit directly by an IED, or having complex ambushes initiated on you in a mountain pass that has next to no visibility. You’ve obviously faced difficult problems. We will have to face those same problems if/when we get out.

    • CRiggs

      October 31, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Outstanding article btw. Excellent job showing the issues for both military and civies.

  8. Michael Highers

    October 31, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Omg college is so much easier than Iraq. These stupid idiots straight out of high school are a bunch of overly sensitive politically correct pussies. Worst of all, they are incapable of critical thinking which is what college is supposed to be about. Ironically, I feel its the vets who are smarter

  9. Shelby3504

    October 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I saw this posted somewhere else and personally this diatribe is getting old. I served in both wars as an infantryman then I got out and went to college and I am in the shit storm economic mess we have today. Besides this “we had it harder than you” mentality that persists with vets (rightfully so, but still) there are 2 facts I think this article gets wrong.
    First, it seems written under the assumption that someone cares. Of course a bunch of vets are going to jump on board and support this but the truth is that out in the real world, in college and in most jobs, no one gives a shit anymore about your military service. The assumption nowadays is that you were too stupid to do anything else and that all your “skills” amount to nothing. While we all know this isn’t true it sure seems to be the perception and good luck trying to prove otherwise to anyone non-military.
    The second thing I think this article gets wrong is that we have already faced the hardest time in our lives. HA! I wish that were true. I thought the same thing when I got out, I could take anything that was thrown at me. If you thought war was hard, just wait until you don’t have it. Sitting idle all these years has been much harder than anything I ever faced overseas. We are in a “jobless recovery”, you thought guard duty was boring and monotonous, try unemployment. The greatest challenge we face is coming back to this society and trying not only to reintegrate but to remake it into the thing we thought was worth fighting for. So while our service was tough, it was short, it always had an end point, now we have to face the rest of our lives and unfortunately it’s not as easy as it sounds.

    • Alex

      October 31, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      I’d have to say thats true, shelby. As much as i love my service and know how good my brothers are, no one gives a fuck out in the civillian sector. Not a single person. I think it’s the sheer difference and misunderstanding that gives perspective employers trepidation about hiring vets.

      • Amy

        November 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        Yes, we do care.
        Some non-civilians say we shouldn’t try to help vets/active duty because we can’t understand. I’ve been told this – when I was trying to find ways to help those coming home. Society as a whole needs to take a stand to support those coming home.

    • Eric L.

      November 1, 2013 at 1:20 am

      Exactly, my gf was an MP (we met in Leonard Wood, when I did the Sapper course). She got out first, while I was in Iraq, to make ends meet, she became an exotic dancer, while going to college and studying to be a realtor.

      Whenever she had more than a week of break, she’d fly all the way to the UAE and make bank. She had it way rougher out of the military than in. But she worked her sexy little tushy off.

      When I finally got out, she was already doing the online MBA thing, sold houses on the side, and danced in the weekends (not all the time). She’s putting me through law school now.

      It’s tough, but the point here is, it’s tougher if you’re dumb out here. We never wasted our time comparing ourselves to civilians, we read people,

      if the fact that our military service seemed useful, we talked about it, played it up; if we thought people weren’t too keen about military types, we played it down.

      Be smart, guys. Use the VA, use up all the benefits they have to offer. Know when to leverage your service–that’s how you play this game.

    • retired

      November 1, 2013 at 4:09 am

      Well are you not in support of our life? You are sounding just like the soldiers who dont go out the wire. Cry about everything and then start sounding as if your on board of the college boy. Just what do you stand for? Are you a soldier or a Marine or ? Whats your sudden issue….you not part of the vetern world, may ean individual now?

  10. beastwork

    October 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I had the grades and SAT scores to get full rides to college straight out of high school. I wanted to go directly to the military but was talked out of it by my vietnam vet father. Much respect to the soldiers. This article was pretty well written up until the last line.

    “we’ve already been through the hardest time in our lives, whatever else the world throws at us, we can handle it.”

    The funny thing is the world can and will beat you to a pulp, if you let it. No matter what you’ve been through. Plenty of military vets, as well as college educated folks, fall flat on their faces at some point in time. You showed a little bit of pretentiousness with this one line. No, the military does not “necessarily” prepare you to handle “whatever the world throws at you.”

    • Mike

      November 1, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Maybe what he’s referring to is that all to comment thought amongst some of the guys that served, “no one got killed today, not too bad of a day.” I got out and had to deal with “hard times”. Unemployment, assignments due, money issues, bills due, and all-in-all it seemed rather trivial. I did not/do not, mind dealing with these issues. I sleep in a warm bed, walk to a bathroom that is in my home, eat whatever I want out of the kitchen, which is also in my home. My post service problems and stressors aren’t as bad as those which I had to deal with while serving. But then again, everyone’s experience in the military wasn’t exactly the same.

  11. Templi C

    October 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    It seems to me that only a self-destructive person would be willing to accept a paycheck earned by killing people, or placing one’s self in harms way. Your trauma is a generational wound that has been placed on you, and will be passed down to your children’s children. It is my opinion that men who chose the American military as a profession are not raised with strong female roles models, which is typical of american indoctrination. So, if you would like to learn opposite opinions now that you’re out of the military brainwash cycle, start reading articles written by females. I’m not saying that those who are fortunate enough to go to college aren’t brainwashed either. American culture preys on everyone. I think that it’s sad that our government sees military personnel as disposable and won’t pitch in for proper mental care of ya’all, seeing as they were the ones who broke you… Please try not to pass down the trauma to your children, we all fucking live with it. NOW is the time to try an Athens ways of life, learn the philosophy, art, discussion, and other ways to celebrate life. Bless.

    • Raul Felix

      November 1, 2013 at 7:15 am

      You are aware that Athens had one of the strongest Navy of all the Greeks and was constantly at war with its arch rival the Spartans right?

    • TSK

      November 1, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Athens not at war… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_Empire
      They were busy causing problems too..

    • Whitey

      November 1, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      While you’re complaining about how you don’t get the warm-fuzzy from civilized alpha males doing what civilized alpha males do, you might want to pay attention to the excesses of UNcivilized alpha males. There are many examples to learn from.

      Now understand that the uncivilized alpha male is a predatory beast. He cares not for laws, rules, or conventions that don’t suit him. Nor does he give a flying rat’s ass for philosophy, reason, or your feelings. He may offer a facade of cultured civility, but when it’s all said and done, he seeks only to satisfy his basest appetites.

      By contrast, the civilized alpha male is a protector, a guardian. He respects the Laws of Society, the Law of Nature, and the Law of God. He recognizes that his role requires him to maintain a state of readiness, therefore he will often seek challenges to test his skill and readiness and make improvements. He is not callous, but he recognizes that responsibility is more important than feelings.

      No amount of civility, pacifism, or consideration for his worldview will stop the uncivilized alpha male from inflicting his depredations on his intended victims. The only thing an uncivilized alpha male fears is a civilized alpha male.

      This is why the Romans said, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” or, “Those who desire peace must prepare for war.”

      This is why Otto Von Bismarck said, “A hostile invading army at our border will not be stopped by rhetoric.”

      This is why H. G. Wells said, “We sleep safely because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

      Also, your example of Athens is…interesting. The only time they weren’t at war with Sparta is when they faced the greater threat of the Persian Empire (a problem they solved with LOTS of violence). They also had a wonderfully tolerant practice of murdering or exiling anybody who challenged their established orthodoxy. Their society was also built on institutionalized pederasty.

      So if we adopt an Athenian model, as you suggest, then we would create a society of perpetual warfare, violent repression of dissent (so much for freedom of speech), and where it would be socially acceptable–even encouraged–to molest children. That sounds good to you?

      • One One Bravo

        November 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

        Great reply, but a few corrections…

        Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus (A Latin Author circa 4th-5th Century) coined the latin phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum” although the idea of peace through military strength was expressed as early as Plato that we know of.

        It was actually George Orwell who said: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

        I can find nothing on Otto von Bismark ever making that comment (doesn’t mean he didn’t), but here’s a more famous one he did make that I believe applies: “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

        • Whitey

          November 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

          Dammit, it was Orwell. My bad. Thanks for the correction.

  12. Kim

    November 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    This was a great article! I can relate to both sides. I did the college thing and thought about the military during college. I joined after college but not as an officer. I went enlisted to see if this is what I really wanted to do and ended up with two tours in Afghanistan. People who think this is towards them is wrong. He is trying to point out that people took different paths in life. He is right about both them.

  13. Mk-19

    November 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    An interesting twist on how to view the on how to view Generation Y. But the fallacy is that there is not only two ways to view one generation. What about those who joined the Army to be pogs? They never went on patrol. Or those that work in logistics, telecomm, etc. How about the civies that work for DoD or Blackwater? You can’t split an entire generation in half just because it fits the basis for an article. I am somewhere in the middle for instance (Took time off for Basic, got diploma, deployed).

    To the guy above me (Whitey). Anyone can kill, or be taught to dominate another. Look at the child soldiers of Africa or read Ordinary Men, a book on who the einzatgruppen were. We are all animals.

    The real deciding factor between men who chose to join the Armed Forces and those who chose not to is just that, CHOICE. There is no real difference. Anyone can get the training. Look at the American Civil War, WW II, Korea, Nam. They were drafted. They did not have a choice. Yet they were made into warriors through the influence and training of Basic. They became the “Civilized Alpha Male” so to speak as you call it. It just requires training and having a different mindset on life. Anyone can be a vicious killer or a savior of the people if they have a decent body and half a mind (seriously who can’t score about 75 on ASVAB and do the minimal PT test standards?) By the way 75 isn’t what’s needed, its what I think most young men should score.

  14. Stefen

    November 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I wish more people understand what we went through instead of the perceived view of what happened.

  15. Just another dirt bag

    November 2, 2013 at 12:48 am

    “A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools.”

    ― Thucydides

    I posit that we have reached the former and are dangerously close to the later

  16. Sgt. Stringcheese

    November 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    “I like beer.”

    -Sgt. Stringcheese

  17. just another dirt bag

    November 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Drinking beer while doing homework and reading rhino den articles is not recommended

  18. Sapper Spun

    November 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Awesome article man!! I got chills reading this and so much was very well expressed. Congrats on doing your time, now go chill on that beach.

  19. Carl Schmidt

    November 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    This is possibly the stupidest fucking thing I have ever read. You forgot about the rest of us that did neither of the two major options.

    • Cpl. James

      November 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Exactly, there’re probably more non-college, non-serving, mofos out there doing God’s work.

  20. just another dirt bag

    November 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

    It didn’t start with our generation…and it probably won’t end with ours. Since Shays’ Rebellion, giving the cold shoulder to those that served, and more specifically those that fought has been American tradition. Growing up, I saw the influence of both worlds. On one side, was my grandfather, who gave up free college education to fight the Japanese in the Pacific with the 7th ID. On the other is the rest of my family, who “knew” that respectable people don’t do such things.

    The truth is that Yuppy America does not want us back, just like Nixon’s “silent majority” didn’t really want the ‘Nam vets back either. The draft vs. volunteer question is also irrelevant because without hundreds of thousands willing to set aside their lives to go do what is necessary, that Selective Service thingy becomes relevant again…and yes, the fact that lil Johnny is on meds will probably not get him a deferment

    To be honest, nothing was more irritating than the PGR guys linking the concourse for all the guys wearing FRACUs then OCPs en-route to the buses because they hide the ugly truth that outside baggage claim awaits the self-centered majority.

    The best advice any of us could get comes from Fred (played by Dana Andrews) in the 1946 movie The Best Years of Our Lives in the closing scene.

  21. WHo Cares

    November 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I learned one thing from a Very Smart Commander- ” Stop pointing the finger, Lets just fix the damn problem.”

  22. Gabriel Biase

    November 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I have been doing my music for the past 4 years in the military. Recording during deployments and whatever I can. 10 years in, 2 offers which I turned down and I still serve. Love my job.- DOC.

  23. Mary Anne

    November 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Wonderfully written. “until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes” is a good way to begin understanding both sides of Gen “Y”.
    I’m so grateful to all peeps who followed their calling, myself to my 2sons and 1 daughter who with such honor, integrity and desire chose to serve their country in the Marines and Navy, ohhhh am I ever so proud!!!! And yes we have and still have one son still dealing with the ongoing aftermaths of a TBI.
    Were my children lied to….”hell to the no”, but some of our liberal press would have you believe that and intern diminish why you served. Another press run political war like VietNam we don’t need. BTW if you see a VietNam Vet, take time to thank him and welcome him home.
    Thank all of our military while you’re at it. Without our brave heroes we would be in a bad way.
    Go out of your way to support organizations like Wounded Warriors etc, grab an angel at Christmas time from an angel tree.
    All of you brothers and comrades stick together and watch each others backs, support families of each other, help with morale. This applies especially for civilians, I was part of the VietNam time and our poor soldiers were treated HORRIBLY.
    Thank you to all who have served in any capacity God Bless you.
    When it’s time to vote remember what your commander in chief is trying to do to you, your pay, your benefits, health coverage and what he, Reid and Pelosi have done to make our country another laughing stock at your expense. The only way to change it is to get rid of these peeps.
    Again to our finist military “Thank you” and “God Bless “

  24. Mike

    November 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    You are a typical self-hating, low confidence, lost veteran. I can appreciate that you are seeking your new place in the world. However, shitting on “civilians”, as you all ridiculously call us, denigrates the very soul of your original intent. The only true difference between what you chose to do for several years versus the majority of people (this is why it’s ridiculous to call us “civilians”) is the mortality rate. You were paid. You chose. If it were volunteer without the ridiculous over-the-top benefits (VA loans, healthcare, pensions, GI bill) maybe, MAYBE, I would call you noble. Unfortunately, you’ve done essentially the same thing as a commercial fisherman, just with a better rate of pay. Stop bitching and moaning, go get a fucking job and stop asking for handouts or expecting others to suck your cock. You have already received your handout. The fact that you had the independent GALL to write this in and of itself shows that you are one the primary reasons for the spite that many “civilians” have for ex military. Get the fuck over yourself, SIR!

    • Whitey

      November 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Self-righteous asshole much, Mike?

      How many veterans do you know, sir? I only ask because you use the word “typical.” Just how large of a sample do you base that assessment on?

  25. just another dirt bag

    November 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    It’s an obligation, not a choice. The fact that some of fulfill that obligation whereas the vast majority does not is irrelevant. Distorted perceptions of defense priorities and America’s version of Kipling’s muse in “Tommy” (http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/tommy.html) have led to more “Mikes” from above. Yuppy America is told how much the U.S. spends on defense and says “that’s way too much” and I agree. Poorly conceived defense policy + the politics of pork legislation is expensive. But the Yuppy target target tends to be Joe and former Joes, who are the only ones doing right by the problem of national defense.

    To be honest “we” should not exist in our present form, as service members and vets separated from wider American society. Washington’s original plan was for there to be universal military service like modern day Switzerland or Israel. Andrew Bacevich has written some compelling arguments for this for those interested.

    Mike and most of Yuppy America misses the point because the great majority of us didn’t join to pay for college or for bennies (how noble of you, by the way, Mike to abstain from such a sweet gravy train for doing something no harder than commercial fishing) we joined because there was a war and somebody had to fight it.

    Mike further misses the point in that Raul doesn’t appear to be asking for hangouts but simply declaring a collective intent to boldly reenter society.

    Mike’s response to this supports my general theory that such reentry is not welcomed by the smugly self satisfied who neither understand sacrifice nor obligation. Am I wrong?

  26. silverwing

    November 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    wow that’s a lot. I first enlisted with the army when my girl friend went off to collage and I saw I was getting no where with my life, I thought “join the army get money for school” become a professor. Life for most of us will not come out as we dreamed, I am proud of my service to our nation, and proud of all who have and will serve, I don’t give a dam what you think. I know service life gives you the opportunity to acquire skills to overcome what ever stands in the way of your objective if you pay attention, learn and grow in your chosen profession. Take the advice of an old man, I started this journey in the early 1980s and continue to live an army life today I have filled many roles, I may have even been your drill sergeant and I’ll say it again troop who gives a shit what they think stand up succeed, don’t let them defeat you, you are better than that. Here are the three obstacles that will hinder the route to your objective, time it is limited, money God help us we will never have enough, and again God help us your health, be strong never give up, nuff said

  27. Dustin

    November 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I think the biggest difference between those of us who don’t join up and those of you who do, is the divisive mentality of many soldiers. It is not all soldiers. I have family members and friends who served that are grateful and respectful of the contributions that those at home make to keep America running while soldiers are abroad.

    Conversely, I don’t know a single civilian, even those I know holding multiple degrees and keeping this country sustainable as engineers and scientists, who would draw a line in the sand and decree, “I am better than you because I didn’t go push my country’s righteous, tyrannical views onto another population.”

    The bottom line is, those of us on the home front need to respect the soldiers who commit themselves to fighting for an ideal. Just as those who serve need to remember who keeps the homeland afloat. It’s not a mutually exclusive relationship, it is a relationship that is dependent on both sides.

  28. just another dirt bag

    November 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Conversely, I don’t know a single civilian, even those I know holding multiple degrees and keeping this country sustainable as engineers and scientists, who would draw a line in the sand and decree, “I am better than you because I didn’t go push my country’s righteous, tyrannical views onto another population.”

    Well, I do know people like that, and unlike your scientists and engineers, these people are less than ten year away from making laws and setting policy. In short, that’s the attitude of the ruling class in the near-future unless things change.

  29. Jimbo

    November 11, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Son, Go back in the military for a few more years. You missed a big lesson. “It is what it is. Move out!”

  30. glasmann

    November 16, 2013 at 12:22 am

    I do not understand these attitudes.

    The Greatest Generation included service members across the full spectrum of American society – rich and poor. The validity and necessity of this war was never questioned. Even if drafted, they did their service as demanded, and at the end of that service the survivors continued their lives – as proud veterans – but resumed their lives as civilians. They did not expect extraordinary thanks; they did not expect anyone to genuflect to them.

    The veterans of the Korean War also included service members across the full spectrum of American society. They did their service as demanded and continued their lives afterwards. But they got sucked into a questionable war – the Forgotten War.

    The Vietnam generation also served. There were also rich and poor, but there were less rich and more poor. Yet, there were a large percentage of volunteers, albeit some reluctant, due to the inequity of the Draft. I served in Vietnam in 1970-1971 albeit in a non-combat MOS. In 4 years, I knew no one other than a lifer who was married. I knew no one who had children. We went in at 18 years and got out at 22 years to resume our civilian lives. Families were not disrupted. There was only one tour in Vietnam. This also was a war of questionable validity, based on government lies – Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

    There is a trend here: Less and less draftees and more volunteers (%) over these three war eras. And there was much more involvement by the American society in these wars. Everyone, even in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had one-degree of separation from someone who was serving, served, or was avoiding serving. The other trend is that the wars became increasingly invalid, based on lies or faulty assumptions.

    Now we proceed to Iraq and Afghanistan: At least in the case of Iraq, totally fallacious lies; all volunteers and no draftees; married career military with children; non-combat MOS roles handled by civilian contractors. Surprise: most of the US public knows no one involved. The crass view is that they do not give a rat’s ass. Add to this multiple tours in the combat zone, PTSD and suicides.

    I am sorry to say it but Raul Felix is making a simplistic, false equivalency between the two (?) factions of the Generation Y. As others have mentioned, it is more complicated than that. Recognize the fact that you were hoodwinked. Take pride in what you accomplished, move on, and resume your civilian lives. Expect kudos one day a year. Lower your expectations and you will never be disappointed.

  31. Adam

    December 17, 2013 at 12:14 am

    I signed up for law enforcement out of high school. My wife worries about me if I’m not home at the end of my shift. Do I get a cookie? Plus I love Budweiser.

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