Recently Everyone for Veterans hosted our annual Veterans Town Hall event in Covington, WA. At every Town Hall, we have the opportunity to listen and learn from veterans about their unique experiences. One moving perspective came from Matthew Hinerman (pictured above, left), as he compared the experience of being a combat veteran with that of a working dog. Many of us were deeply impacted by his perspective and we are grateful for the opportunity to share his words with you.
Matthew said, "I'm sure a lot of you have dogs. There are a lot of different dogs, but there is a group called "working dogs." These are dogs that were bred to, you guessed it, work. To perform a task. To have a purpose. If you own one of these dogs, I hope you're aware of it. If you treat a working dog like a toy, sporting, or other category, you will find yourself in trouble. You can't leave them at home for 8 hours locked up. You'll have things chewed, furniture destroyed, and trash strewn about.
Combat Vets are working dogs. We have had a purpose. We've had a mission. And now we're away from it. And much like the working dogs, left to our own devices, we destroy things. Families, friendships, our own lives.
Like a penned-up working dog, we don't need a blanket. We don't need a never-ending supply of food. Some of us don't need your thanks. We need to be tasked with a mission. We need a purpose. We need to be challenged."
He added, “the short version is this - society currently treats Veterans like we're broken. We've done some things or experienced something and need to be fixed. There has to be something wrong with us. So naturally, when you hear those things, and people treat you that way, you start to believe that it's true. If we stopped treating everyone that is a veteran like they're a broken human, and instead are just people that have unique experiences, I feel like that'd be a move in the right direction.”
Our heartfelt gratitude goes to Matthew and the many veterans that shared their stories with us. Their honesty and vulnerability were profoundly moving. May we all take these words to heart and move in the right direction together.
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