According to Wikipedia, a stigma is defined as:
In sociological theory, a stigma is an attribute, behavior, or reputation which is socially discrediting in a particular way: it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype rather than in an accepted, normal one.
Some stigmas I’ve heard being thrown around about veterans are:
They’re unstable because they suffer from PTSD.
They must have killed someone when they were overseas.
War makes them act like psychos once they’re back home.
And one I’ve had directly at me, personally:
Your boyfriend was in the Marine Corps overseas in Iraq? He must be a violent person.
Stigmas. Often unfounded assumptions made by the ignorant who know nothing more or less about the military than the violence shown on television and in movies. Yes, my boyfriend was in the Marine Corps. Yes, he was trained for “one shot, one kill.” Yes, the Marine Corps caused a lot of destruction overseas. But all those things are what’s shown on the evening news. They never show the good these men and women do overseas.
My cousin was in the Air Force at the beginning of the War on Terrorism and was deployed to Afghanistan, but chose a detail standing in the middle of the desert guarding civilians while they rebuilt their villages. The news focuses on all the bombings, and the causality rate, which has increased far too much.
The news never talks about how my boyfriend and his unit repeatedly tried to save the life of a reporter and a cameraman by keeping them out of the “stack” (a group of Marines armed and preparing for entry by force) until the coast was clear because more times than not, they [Marines] never knew what type of lethal force was waiting for them behind the door they were about to bust down.
Mental health treatment for veterans is lacking in this country, and when a veteran is suffering from PTSD or another mental illness caused by the horrors of war and commits a violent crime, the news simply writes him/her off as “another psycho from the military.” It’s not fair.
It’s not fair to those who served and its not fair to those who will serve to know they’ll be treated with that stigma.
Anyone have experience with stigmas of being a war veteran or veteran of service? Share your stories with me below.