Almost as bad as the “everyone’s a hero” outlook is the idea that every veteran is a shattered remnant of a human being as a result of their experiences. The image of the veteran as a human wreck is corrosive– it has been especially harmful to Vietnam veterans in the past, but television and movies love to use the “disturbed veteran” as a trope to this day.
Not only does this make re-integration difficult, but it does a disservice to the majority of veterans who do come back and get on with their lives. Are they changed by their experience? Of course– to go through a war and come out entirely unchanged is unrealistic. But does it mean that “change” always implies some sort of debilitating condition? Not at all. And it also cheapens the experiences of those who have legitimately faced debilitating problems as a result of their service.