Guest Opinions

A veteran says ‘Thanks, America, for my education, my home and my unforgettable life’

Twice each year, the week before Memorial Day and the week before Veterans Day, volunteers place American flags along in Ringgold, Ga.’s streets and highways to honor veterans.
Twice each year, the week before Memorial Day and the week before Veterans Day, volunteers place American flags along in Ringgold, Ga.’s streets and highways to honor veterans. AP

This is a thank-you letter to the citizens of the United States.

In October 1971, by orders of President Nixon, I was drafted into the U.S. Army. The letter said, “Greetings from the President of the United States,” and told me where and when to report.

I took the following oath: “I, Jack Snyder, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Let me be extremely clear here. While the Vietnam War was raging, I was sent to Germany. I was never exposed to the horrors of war. I did serve as a medic but, as anyone with military experience can tell you, I didn’t have control over my assignment. I simply did what I was told and followed orders.

I have discussed my military experience with other veterans. Most express the same sentiment: We’re glad we served. It was an experience that I wouldn’t have paid a nickel for then, but wouldn’t take a million dollars for now. Only a small percentage of men and women in the military ever experience the real horrors of war. Unfortunately, that experience is not distributed evenly to all who serve. My hat’s off to them that did the heavy lifting, receiving physical and emotional scars or making the ultimate sacrifice.

The biggest blessing from my service was the GI Bill. I used the monthly stipend to pay for a university education earning a degree in civil engineering. That has been a great blessing in my life and one that I am forever thankful for. The facts show that the funds spent on GI Bill education have produced a return on investment unparalleled by any government program ever invented to assist economic advancement.

I also purchased my first home on a VA loan and moved into it with next to nothing as a down payment. Thank you my fellow citizens.

I find it a bit disingenuous at times that we heap laurels on all veterans, especially ones like me, when in reality only a handful of veterans have faced the horrors of war. But as the saying goes, “All gave some, but some gave all.” We all took the same oath of enlistment. We didn’t write our own orders.

If you are an employer and really want to help veterans, hire them. Give them a chance. They matured during their service experience. Give them a chance to prove themselves. And to the politicians, think twice before you put someone’s son or daughter in harm’s way. This country has sacrificed enough soldiers, sailors and Marines on foreign lands for questionable causes.

Jack Snyder has lived in Boise since 1979, and has been chief engineer at Western Construction since 1987.

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