Happy Veteran’s Day. I will admit that I did not realize it until I saw the Google holiday logo. Because we don’t have a calendar anywhere in our home yet (nothing on the walls at all, actually) and because neither of us are working. Penelope Trunk recently proposed abolishing the holiday and replacing it with a National Service Day. When I read her blog post, I thought “Wow, that is bold” and nodded in agreement with several of her reasons, in particular her argument that Veteran’s Day overlooks all the other people who contribute to the war effort and her implication that military service shouldn’t be valorized over other types of service. I also thought that these aren’t good enough reasons to not to honor military veterans. Her post undermines the sacrifices of those who do chose to fight for our country, for whatever reason, and neglects to acknowledge that not everybody chooses a life of military service for financial reasons.
I do think that the holiday could be more inclusive, though. So today, I thought about the women who’ve served, both at home and in the military. Servicewomen are not only frequently overlooked in our social consciousness (think about all those references to “our men in uniform” and iconic images of men coming home and scooping up their kids), but they are also neglected when they return as veterans. This is particularly harmful given that servicewomen suffer PTSD at significantly higher rates than servicemen, in part because they are not allowed to engage in combat and so do not typically develop the relationships that soldiers form with each other in combat troops and, most distressingly, because 30% of women are sexually assaulted during their time in the military. I think about women’s issues all the time, but I’d never thought about the plight of servicewomen before, in part because I just don’t know a lot of people in the military and it’s not often on my mind (I recognize that this is upsetting all on its own, given that we’re in the middle of two wars and all, but that’s another post for another day). If Veteran’s Day encourages people like me to consider more actively the service of so many men and women and to consider what needs to be done for them in return, then it’s certainly worth keeping around.