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Sacramento Boomer

Pride Runs Deep: A Veteran’s Perspective

Oct 29, 2019 02:11PM

I am a boomer, a first-generation American, and a veteran—more specifically, a submarine-qualified Navy veteran.  

What is means to be a veteran is a highly personal question. Whether you’re in the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, a commissioned officer of the NOAA, or the Public Health Service, you become a veteran at the time you enter service. Some will serve in a combat arena or theater of operations, others will not, yet, we are all veterans. 

In recalling the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” I was drawn to the U.S. Navy, enlisted a handful of days after graduating high school, and became a veteran. 

In order to become a veteran, I took the oath to “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 Officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” I took and continue to align my thoughts and behaviors to this creed; it speaks to the heart and core of the sacrifice made to our country, our God/creator, and is part of the contract with our government. Its values are aligned with my current civilian role. 

As a veteran, my service time taught, reinforced, and sharpened the skills to attain the best in teamwork, the values of duty, honor, traditions and rituals of the Navy, sacrifice, courage, and commitment. 

As a veteran, I am keenly aware of the social, emotional, experiential, and cultural gap between those who’ve served and those who have not.

As a veteran, I honor and respect the flag. I honor and respect these United States of America. Many forget how good we have it here. 

Retirement from military service imperceptibly seals a door behind you. The veteran status is put to a different test—assimilation into the civilian world. It is cold, indifferent, and does not easily accept. Veterans are challenged translating military-gained skills into the language of civilian employers.

As a submarine-qualified veteran, we have a language unto our own to which a civilian might cry foul when it tarnishes a sensibility or two. So, if you hear a voice behind you: “Need a little left rudder in your step,” “Green board,” or overhear a reference to “blowing negative,” you’re likely in the presence of a submarine veteran.

Being a submarine service veteran meant that finding like-service veterans would be a challenge. Instinctively we are shipmates in the closest bond possible, as less than 5% over the total Navy population ever served aboard submarines.

Being a veteran means finding solace thru engagement with your own kind. You want to be with those who’ve painted rocks, held field day, appreciate scuttlebutt, stood watches port and starboard, and partaken in a trim party. My search led me to the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (or SubVets), more specifically, the Gold Country Base, which meets on the fourth Saturday each month at the Folsom VFW Hall. Through it, we perpetuate the memory of those shipmates who’ve gone before us on Eternal patrol and seek to educate everyone else of the deeds our submarine brothers performed. This veteran has finally found a home in every sense of the word. Pride Runs Deep!

By Pete Juhos