The Voice of a Veteran


The Voice of a Veteran


I often have been asked, “Why do veterans think America owes them something?”

As a veteran, I will try to answer that question as honestly and openly as possible, and although I truly believe I share the same perspective as fellow veterans, I will speak here only from my point of view. First though, it’s important that you understand what it’s like to be a soldier.

We do not think that America is indebted to us. We just want the opportunity to recoup what we’ve lost going into battle; the opportunity to become prosperous and productive in today’s society. As soldiers; we’re not allotted occasions of choice in what we do, neither are we granted choice to voice what we will or will not be participants in (i.e., conflict, war, battle, or what other substituted words chosen to define defense of our country and its way of life). When the President, our Commander in Chief; makes the decision to battle, a soldier’s permission to or not to participate isn’t required. We are ordered to pack our IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) and move forward.

Yes, we made the decision to serve and protect our country through good times and bad and believe me these times are bad. What we experience as soldiers is a little more significant compared to working at Wal-Mart, SAMS, IBM, etc. reason being—preference. Civilians have the option to accept or reject decisions being made. Civilians can either go with the flow or quit and find employment elsewhere. Uncle Sam isn’t as lenient.

Once we’ve packed up, picked up our weapons and are deployed, we do not know what to anticipate. We are oblivious to the conditions of the environment in which we have to defend ourselves. We are skeptical of the people we are protecting; unsure of whether they are our enemy or our allies. We question whether the battle we are fighting is a battle for our country’s freedom or a battle to protect our politician’s best interest. Even though we have uncertainty still we have no voice or choice. How would you like to give your life or limbs, because someone didn’t make enough money last year for their own private interest?  Either way, we are in this fight to defend this country and protect our brothers and sisters when called to do so. Defending this country isn’t just a job it is who we are. Therefore when you say veterans think that America owes us something, pick up that weapon, and defend proudly. Upon your return home hope and pray that you are who you were when you left.  Pray that the same persons making this type of statement can somewhat comprehend your experience and not discriminate, because they’ve not fully conceived the sacrifice.



Imagine this scenario with me if you will: Early morning finds you awake and preparing for work. Beautiful thoughts are scuttling through your mind. You leave what comforts of home you have and walk over to your office or work area ready to start the day. All of a sudden you hear whistling over your head. You become aware of the taste of powder in your mouth. Seconds later you hear an explosion. Your emotions are running high. For a few brief seconds you give no thought to running for cover. Immediately reasoning and instinct rushes in and throws you to the ground. There you lay and pray that the next bomb if any doesn’t come your way. Getting up after the shock, you make your way to the nearest bunker with thoughts of your family friends and associates pressing hard on your heart and mind. Quick visions of your loved ones flashes before your mind’s eye —wife, husband, children, mother, father, etc.‑ and you wonder if you will ever see them again. Your mind starts to race. The rhythmic pulsation of the heart accelerates to a rate incomprehensible to the shaken mind that race to your fellow employees or soldiers. Where are they? What is the extremity of the casualties and fatalities? Question after question jumps out at you as round after round explodes on the camp. Every few seconds sirens are screaming, informing you that another round has hit inside the camp. Within minutes all the blasts and sirens subside. The reoccurring thought of family and friends is on your mind. You hear a new sound now, the wondrous sound of the all clear sirens echoing throughout the camps. “It is safe now” the sirens cry. “You can come out now” the sirens cry. “You can return to work now” they echo. The rest of the day finds your family and friends subconsciously in your thoughts. Sometimes you’ll call home and other times you just go along with your day because you do not want your relatives to worry. If and when you decide to call home to speak with your loved ones, you call seeking the sound of their voice to soothe your troubled spirit. Your thoughts are; “the next time I may not be so fortunate.”

For the civilian at home the above is an image. For the soldier or contractor, the above is a reality. As we work supporting our troops the above reality is what many of us keep in mind. We appreciate what they do and they appreciate what we do as a joint effort in defending our nation’s needs.

A few weeks ago a similar situation happened. Having completed a day’s work, two soldiers were waiting for the contractor’s bus to take them to the Post Exchange to purchase items needed to maintain somewhat of a normal life here in Afghanistan. Another rocket attack occurred as they were waiting for the bus. Before they could find shelter the rocket hit in their area killing the two soldiers. Living here in Afghanistan is not a vacation; soldiers and civilians are losing their lives for the pursuit of justice. I am located on a camp and do not want the luxury to travel to other camps, because of roadside bombs, RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades), and small arm fire. Soldiers endure these types of attacks as they travel from camp to camp. Being wounded or losing their life is sometimes the tradeoff for following the commands and orders issued by commanders and the Commander in Chief. Every soldier and or contractor makes sacrifices in one form or another. There are many who have made the ultimate sacrifice ‑‑the giving of their lives for our defense. Being both, contractor and veteran, I understand the thoughts and feeling of the soldiers as they travel throughout the country defending our way of life. There is nothing but respect and thanks for the job well done and I applaud the efforts each and every soldier provides on a daily basis.

As the Founder of Vision Of Veterans, it requires me to make several phone calls to the states. Building a company from Afghanistan requires patience and trust. Several times while discussing business decisions about VOV with Errol Mitchell, incoming bomb landed inside the camp. Informing my business partner of what was transpiring. I’d quickly get off the phone and shield myself behind the protection of a concrete bunker. Once the danger subsided I’d call Errol to let him know that all was well and everyone that I knew had survived the blasts. Errol never failed to express the concerns the abrupt disconnect brought. And he also never fail to utter his heart felt gratitude for not just my safety alone but for all who were with me in Afghanistan. Errol says, “I understand the emotions and pains of the loved one who has a soldier or contractors away protecting our country.”