What is a Veteran?

By Gordon T. Bradley Jr.

United States Air Force

   Without any reservations about them on life or what may possibly happen to it, this young man or young woman will sign a white piece of paper and take an oath swearing to serve their country and to protect it from all enemies foreign and domestic.

   Many times, the family will gather together at a bus depot or airport to see these young people off, not thinking that the next time they see them they will not be the same young people that they let go to serve their country.

   With their palms sweaty and their heart pounding the bus pulls up to a stop. In just a few minutes a young person’s life will dramatically change just as soon as they step off into a world that they have only heard of, a soldier’s world.

   At 5am the following morning the bugle sounds, the potential soldier awakes to sixteen weeks, or longer, of mind games, running till they drop, push-ups, sit-ups till they throw up. When they start to break away from civilian life they are led to a shooting rang and told that the figure one hundred yards in front of them is the enemy. After a few hours of the training instructor training them how to properly handle and fire a weapon and where to aim to kill, the potential soldiers stand up thinking their day is over with when they hear, “alright you piece of sh**, it’s time to start separating the babies from a possible soldier. So far, I only see babies. Follow me and double time it!”

   The sixteen weeks to these young men and women seem like a year. They saw some drop outs, a lot of crying, especially in their bunks at night. One thing some were noticing, something was happening to them. This didn’t seem so bad any more. In fact, some thought the training instructor was a joke but still did what he said without question and did it with pride.

   The day that many thought would never come has arrived, graduation day. As they start to line up in formation the training instructor says something like this, “Well, well, what do we have here, soldiers? Not yet you’re not. Not till your name is called. For those of you that have made it this far congratulations. After the ceremony you will be soldiers of the United States and you will be given your orders. Now stand up straight and make your country proud. Forward, March!”

   Like almost all soldiers many are anxious because some get to go home for a few weeks before shipping out to their duty station which will be anywhere in the world while others are off for more training.

   Once all the training is done and the visits home are through the American soldier is deployed somewhere in the world to protect freedom and to keep America safe. We all know what war is and the American soldier goes to war if called to do so without question and they go with pride.

   When their tour of duty is over and if they are eligible to exit the armed services and do so they exit with pride and dignity. Once all the paperwork is through they become one of the greatest of all Americans, an AMERICAN VETERAN. God Bless our troops and the American Veteran.

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