Commonwealth Journal

Columns

March 9, 2012

Survival techniques

Somerset — With the reduction of our armed forces, many citizens will be returning to civilian life as veterans. Service in the military can be a stressful experience; an experience most will agree they would do all over again, but must be accompanied by a goodly amount of physical and psychological defense mechanisms; one of which is humor, and no one or anything is immune or off limits, including fellow comrades-in-arms.  Part of the fun is to change or modify a story as it passes along to make it more entertaining, or to accommodate the story teller's particular situation. Stories will always be told with the utmost sincerity, but you learn to listen with an attentive ear, while at the same time mentality changing the story to what you believe would be a more entertaining story line. Those who have served and carried this talent into civilian life are the better for it. Starting rumors to see how far they go is fun also.

The brunt of their humor will never be God, home, Mom and apple pie, but will be fellow comrades, from the lowly private through the Commander in Chief, and include politicians, preachers and the farmer's daughter. Some call it crude; its really psychological survival techniques.   

Perhaps that is the basis for this latest true (?) story about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.: An aspiring young sculptor wanted to demonstrate his talent in front of the White House in hopes of getting some recognition and publicity. In his attempt at modern art, he took a barrel of bull manure and started building his project. Nancy Pelosi happened by and inquired about what he was sculpting to which he replied “I'm building a Republican”. Nancy thought this was hilarious and called Barak Obama to witness this possible political tid-bit. Barak came by and asked the young artist the same question and received the same reply “I'm building a Republican”. Barak, being the fun-loving guy he is, used his Blackberry to call John Boehner and asked him to join them. While addressing the young man, John received the same response; “I'm building a Republican.” Irritated, John asked him why he was building a REPUBLICAN. Without looking up, or interrupting his work, the talented young man simply stated; “I couldn't find enough bull*#^$ to make a Democrat”. (A young sculptor in front of the White House has been verified. [Change characters and political affiliation to accommodate audience.])

Members of the military are fiercely loyal to their branch of service. Put a Marine, a Sailor and an Army guy in a bar and before the night is over you'll probably have a fight. Let a civilian come in and insult any one of them and they'll stand shoulder to shoulder and make the civilian wish he'd never seen a uniform. The experience doesn't stop there; it carries over into civilian life where there is a bond with their comrades-in-arms for life. It's a survival thing - together we stand. That's just the way it is.

You may stand or sit next to a veteran and never know it. Many prefer not to discuss their military experiences with the uninitiated, or because it's too painful. However, certain characteristics can be dead give-aways;

• If his kids stand at parade rest while waiting on the school bus

• He puts up concertina wire to keep out trick or treaters

• Every situation MUST have someone in charge

• His wife yells “Hooah” when he calls her to attention

• Shirts must only face to the left in the closet (pants on separate hangers)

As in civilian life, Murphy's Law has many applications in the military:

• Friendly fire - isn't

• Five second fuses always burn three seconds    

• There's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole

• If the enemy is within range, so are you

• Tracers work both ways

• Interchangeable parts aren't

• All-weather close air support doesn't work in bad weather

Please be fore-warned; many vets have a tendency to ramble and repeat themselves - especially the older ones. But not me. Not me.

                                                    ccalhoun1@windstream.net

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