I am invisible. I am a veteran. I am a veteran whether I return from war abroad, or from service domestically. I have voluntarily served our country and protected and defended our nation. And most of you never knew I was there. If I wear my cap, my shirt, or my jacket, you might see me and thank me for my service, to which I might say ‘thank you’, or ‘it was my honor’.
I might just nod or smile and walk away with a limp, with a cane, with mental anguish, or I might not walk away at all: I might roll away. But maybe I am sitting on the cold ground watching, hearing, or feeling you walk, roll, run, drive, jog, or laugh by as you enjoy the
freedoms I have almost died to provide.
You might know me to have served and you might not. I don’t always look like I served. Sometimes I look like I am the one in need. I might be the one who needs your service, your protection now. I may be evicted from my home soon, I may have lost my home and family, I may be homeless, but I am still a veteran.
I may be a thriving businessperson, or a person that smiled as we passed each other by. I may be a woman with children, or the driver you’re mad at. I am still a veteran.
My military service is something that I cherish even though the memories have started to fade away. I still remember, though. I still remember taking the oath. I still remember the day I left for service. I still remember why I served. I still remember and feel the pride of enlistment and service.
I am here. I am human. I am worth your time and attention. I deserve to be respected, not because I am a veteran, but because I am a human being worthy of the same everyday things that you may take for granted. I do not ask for much and I may not ever ask for anything. Yet, I am asking something of you today. Not for me, but for us: Acknowledge us. Make eye contact with us. Let us know that we are actually not invisible.
U. S. Navy Veteran