We’re Better Than This
By Nick Palmisciano
We need to stop being fucking assholes.
I have a massive amount of pride about the time I spent in the military. I have an even greater appreciation for the men and women who have spent the last decade plus deploying over and over again for our nation, and the highest level of respect for those who were injured or killed while in harm’s way. There is no way that a sane person can read about the sacrifices of Chris Kyle or the members of Operation Red Wings or the members of “Blackhawk Down” and not be blown away by what these men endured. I personally can’t comprehend it, and to pretend otherwise would be mere blustering.
I’ve lost a lot of friends in these wars. I’ve seen even more wounded or traumatized mentally. I think the right thing for any patriot to do is to give back to the military community – to make sure the needs of the wounded and the families of the fallen are provided for and to help transitioning veterans succeed as civilians.
And yes, there is a time and a place to unleash the full capability of our respective asshole Death Stars. Spoiled college kid talking shit about veterans – make him your own personal Alderaan. Members of Congress trying to reduce promised veteran benefits – show them your asshole ray is fully operational by relentlessly mocking them, calling attention to their inability to govern, and ensuring they are never again re-elected. Westboro Baptist Church picketing veteran funerals – let them feel the power of the mother fucking dark side we all have inside of us.
But what in the actual hell are we doing shitting on Phillip Seymour Hoffman? And for that matter, why did we treat Paul Walker the same way a month ago? (Who, by the way, ended up being a pretty good guy who donated heavily to veteran charities and did a significant amount to help inner city youth.)
I understand that we wish people cared about Chris Kyle the way they do about these actors. I understand that. But honestly, that’s never been the case and it never is going to be. Chris Kyle is our hero. He is part of our community. Most Americans don’t know who he is because he isn’t in the news and he isn’t part of their community. That isn’t their fault. Do we know who the great doctors are? How about the great policemen in Toledo, Ohio – the ones who have died in the line of duty? Which firefighter in Jackson Hole, Wyoming has saved the most lives? I don’t have those answers, and it isn’t because I don’t care or appreciate doctors, policemen, or firemen. It’s simply because I don’t live in those worlds.
Hoffman was an incredible actor. I don’t know anything about him as a human being because I’m not one of those people all that interested in the lives of actors, but I do know that every time he was in a movie, I was more apt to watch it. I just thought the guy was fucking good. And he died, and I’m bummed about it, because I know I’m not going to see him in anymore movies. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep and I’m not going to go out and have a Phillip Seymour Hoffman movie marathon, but you know, it sucks. To other people, this is very emotional. Other people related to his work, or to him, personally. Why the hell would we, as the military community, be so cold as to think their loss is meaningless? Why would we take to social media to mock the guy or those who are mourning him?
Yeah, he died of a drug overdose. So do many of us. Yeah, he abused alcohol. Don’t we all have friends who have? Haven’t some of us used alcohol as a very dangerous post-deployment crutch? We have no idea what this guy went through. Maybe he was abused. Maybe he was bullied. Maybe he had a mental disorder. And maybe he just became a druggie because he tried drugs once and they are really fucking addicting.
But we do no good by mocking or insulting him. In fact, all we do is make our community look small.
In my estimation, the military veteran is the toughest, most resilient, and most worthwhile citizen on the planet. We volunteered to fight wars to protect priceless freedoms. We spilled blood, sweat and tears so others would not have to. We’ve seen things we wouldn’t wish on anyone. We worked together to overcome adversity and we know how lucky we are to live where we live and have what we have in this great country. In short, we’ve paid the price and acquired wisdom that cannot be achieved by other means.
We’re supposed to be bigger than this. We’re supposed to use our insight and experience to help the civilization we fought for during our service. We’re supposed to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
We’re not supposed to bully the dead and those for whom the dead had meaning.
That just isn’t what warriors do.