ON AUSV: I WAS INSPIRED

By: Max Chacon

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After joining the AUSV, not only did I learn a substantial amount about the military, but also became aware of the civilian-military divide. There is a negative perception of the veteran community within our society. For example, statistics gathered by Got Your Six, a veteran organization, found that, when people were shown a photo of a homeless person almost 50 percent assumed it was a veteran. Our society tends to correlate mental health issues with veterans, however, according to the National Institute of Health, 7.7 million Americans deal with PTSD in a specified year. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs approximates that between 300,000 and 500,000 service members have dealt with PTSD across 12 years of combat. Thus, conservatively more than 95 percent of Americans with PTSD or civilians. The reintegration of veterans into a civilian life is hindered by these stereotypes and fallacies that Americans hold against our veterans. 

We recently held The Veterans of All Nations Gala where veterans, elected officials and celebrities gathered together to honor our global unity of forces and our Nation’s Service Members. Throughout the night, awards were handed out, tributes were given, and inspiring speeches were read. We also had the opportunity to hear from many activist and prominent figures within the veteran’s community. That night, approximately half of the guest that attended serve or served in the military, while the other half were private citizens. At a certain point during the gala, our master of ceremony Boone Cutler, took some time to recognize the civilians in the room.

"Roughly about half of you have never served in the military. Now let me tell you how beautiful that is. You are here. You're sitting next to somebody who's probably kicked a door down, who's probably fired a rifle in anger, and who has probably been shot at in anger, and you're still here. You weren’t afraid to be here, and you support. Do you know what we call that? We don't call you civilians, we call you the warrior class.”

Boone went on to explain the reasoning behind the Warrior class, and talked about how not every person can join the Armed Forces. Whether it is due to psychological, physical, or various circumstances in people’s lives they are not able to enroll. However, he stated that every single person in that room who didn't serve still has the heart of a warrior, still lives by an ethos, and would put everything on the line to make sure that the family and friends that do serve know that they are loved. We must recognize and honor the sacrifice of our veterans and their families, and continue to celebrate, appreciate, and encourage those who continue their service. It is our responsibility to abolish the stigma of veterans and break the barrier between civilians and the military. The Academy of United States Veterans is taking the steps to bridge the civilian-military divide, so that the veteran’s community does not struggle without the help of the nation they served for.