“What you do or say to someone to get them to care?” I asked Rex Temple, a military veteran and guest speaker in my class Monday morning. On the surface a seemingly simple question, but once the words left my mouth I heard how difficult it actually is to answer. I mean, what would I do or say to someone to get them to care? So, now I pose to you readers the same question: What would you do or say to someone to get them to care?
It easy for me to look around at the general public and determine there is a negative outlook on the United States’ current state of foreign affairs in Afghanistan. According to Greg Jaffe of The Washington Post, many in the military feel this; that is, they can feel pity in the public’s emotional reaction to military presence (click here for the full article). Reading this, I could easily conclude, “Well, that’s great. People are caring. The army’s words and actions have gotten people to care.” However, I am misinformed in making this conclusion because I have left out a major perspective. An often all too unheard of perspective: an individual who has served (or is serving) in the military’s perspective. As Jaffe points out, many veterans do not want to hear our emotional words of pity. While they appreciate our support, they do not want us to focus on the extent of their injuries, their sacrifices, and any reminiscence of the war they will mentally take with them.
Do you know the stories of Corey and Jenny from South Dakota, or Teresa and Private First Class Michael Arciola? Probably not [unless you are a die-hard Oprah fan (you can follow the whole stories here)]. I knew nothing of them; in fact, I will admit I knew nothing of any military veteran’s personal experience in Afghanistan until I was assigned readings for my class and had the opportunity to listen to our guest speaker Rex Temple. Why? Why aren’t stories like the aforementioned ones all over in the media? Yet, as soon as something catastrophic or negative happens, you can go to an internet site or find an online news story and see hundreds of comments from the public (like this).
Accumulating all the above mentioned sources and information, I have finally answered my question on what I would say to get you readers to care. Educate yourself. Follow these links. Find new sources on sites you regularly check (e.g., look for #militarymon on twitter). You don’t have to change your opinions or feelings, but you should always strive to stay informed. Meanwhile, I am going to educate myself and take some action by getting involved. After all, actions speak louder than words.
Want to get into action too? Click here.
Want to educate yourself? Follow this link to follow Rex Temple’s personal journey in Afghanistan.