Living

Do we do enough for our injured and ill soldiers and veterans?

People are often excited to hear that I'm in the military, that is, until I actually tell them what they do. Then, they look bored.

I’ve mentioned that both on a personal and a professional level, I travel a lot. And although I’m not a huge fan of flying (I know, comical, since I’m in the air force), what I am a huge fan of is meeting so many interesting people, from so many different walks of life. Inevitably, plane conversations, and conversations with anyone you may meet, quickly turn to what it is that you do for a living. When I say I’m in the military, their eyes often light up with interest. “And what do you do in the military?”, they always ask. When I tell them I’m a logistics officer, their eyes either glaze over or look extremely unimpressed. From superhero to nerd in two seconds flat.

The reality is, there are a lot of jobs in the military that don’t involve constant shooting of weapons and rattling off the phonetic alphabet. A lot of us have desk jobs. We push papers. We do the work many consider boring. But we’re all a vital part of the military as a whole, helping each other to achieve the mission. Yes, even us boring logistics officers. 

My desk looks like that of any other…messy and haphazard but in my head, perfectly organized. My workplace is much like any other. I don’t have to have my retinas scanned before I can enter the building and I don’t get frisked first thing in the morning. I just wear a uniform and do my job like the rest of the world.

There are a few sub-specialties within military logistics (transport, food, and finance to name a new). My specialty is Human Resources. So yes, working in Human Resources is similar to civilian HR, but with one added complication: casualty administration. This means we do everything necessary to support injured and ill soldiers. That includes the members who suffer from cancer to those injured in training and those wounded overseas. We also look after the family members of soldiers who have been killed and veterans. We help them fill out Veteran’s Affairs Disability applications, we get them all the benefits they are entitled to, and sometimes, we just sit and listen to them when they need it. I can assure you, sometimes the emotion of this job feels like it takes over my life.

Previously, militaries all over the world have been consumed with the “soldier on” mentality, which basically means to keep on going, even though your body, and perhaps your mind, are screaming at you to stop. Although there are some times that one is forced to “soldier on”, there comes a point where you need help. This is where my unit steps in. I feel so proud to be a part of such an amazing unit that does such vital work. What we have to remember is that our soldiers are people too. They get sick. They get injured, often, in the most horrific ways imaginable. And it’s our responsibility to look after them and do all that we can to ensure they get well. Because they sacrificed so that others may live in peace. I can assure you, when it comes to looking after these soldiers, your taxpayers dollars are extremely well spent.

So tell me what you think, readers. Do you think we’ve improved the way we look after our injured and ill soldiers? What would you like to see change? The previous Ombudsman has been in the news quite a bit lately, talking about how we need to better benefits for our veterans. Do you agree with him?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Kelly