I don't wear my veteran status on my sleeve as some do—quite literally. Everyone has the right to choose how to define themselves. We all—in fact—put up a screen through which we prefer to be seen. Most of the people around me at work and among my extended acquaintances are either unaware of my service or has completely forgotten. That's how infrequently I bring it up.
Here is the thing; I'm mostly proud of my service. Mostly. Talking about it too often leads to stories of events I would rather not discuss. But once the conversation is rolling, dropping the "I'd rather not talk about it" bomb is an overly dramatic suspension many people use to imply the worst. And let's face it, leaving people to imagine things are worse than reality is a dick move.
So, I let it all go throughout the year because there isn't much about being a veteran that applies to what I do now. I don't even think about my service very often.
Then Veteran's Day roll around and I get frustrated that there isn't more recognition of my service—which is stupid. Its position in my identity is entirely my doing. One can't have it both ways.
I've seen a few of my fellow vets change their Facebook profile photo to an image of them in uniform. It's great to see them that way. They're great photos, and it's a good reminder, but I'm not comfortable rolling like that. It just isn't my style to grab for props even when I want them.
Stupid human tricks.
Every year I draft this post (or one like it) and never publish it. Well, every year except this one. It has taken me the better part of a decade to get my head around the dichotomy.