Many moons ago on a sunny day, my girlfriend, my father, and my childhood friend who I grew up with drove me from the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles Airport for my trip to United States Air Force basic training.
I had just turned 17 a few months earlier, and hadn’t even started shaving yet. It was February, 1981. All my friends were still in high school, and 12 grade. I opted to skip 12 grade to go into the military.
I was a long haired blond kid from the San Fernando Valley dressed in a surfer shirt when I got the boot camp. The nightmare for me began when I climbed on the bus with all the other recruits going to Lackland Air Force Base Texas. The nightmare really began when we disembarked at the base from the bus. The multitude of drill instructors made us quite welcome.
Suffices to say it was the worst night of my life, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
When I got off active duty a long time later, I was lost. I put my fatigue pants on, my black combat boots bloused and ready to go, and my Air Force issue white T-shirt, and walked my bald ass down to the liquor store to buy a six-pack of Schlitz malt liquor.
As I walked it was very hard for me to acclimate to being home from active duty military. A couple hour plane I went from hard core military to the land of civilians and hippies. I had no clue what to do. Back then, everybody were longhairs. Being bald was not yet in vogue.
Thank god I did the palace chase, and went to the reserves. When I reported to my air National Guard station I felt at home again.
Believe me when I tell you that there are many many stories I can tell you here about my military experiences. But this is not the point of my story. The point of my story is that many many thousands of men and women have gone through a similar experience that I have gone through.
Some have fought in combat, been grievously injured in the service of their country. Many have not come home alive, and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
Veterans Day is not just about a day off work. On this day in 2014, we still have men and women in combat in Afghanistan, advisers in Iraq, and Air Force and Navy combat pilots flying sorties against the terrorist group Isis.
I would appreciate you making a donation to a reputable veterans group today. Many veterans have come home completely fucked up. They have PTSD, or wounds, and many are not able to get jobs or fend for themselves because the economy still is not recovered completely.
The least we can do for our veterans is help them. While your sorry asses are enjoying barbecue today, many veterans put their asses on the line for you and yours.
Don’t thank me for my service, donate to other veterans for their service. They deserve it.
May God bless America.
By United States Air Force veteran and California Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., November 11, 2014