Everyone wants to argue over, or claim, what the veteran “is”– from their point of view. An enabler of imperialism? A sucker? A hero? You’ll hear all these things and more, each from someone’s own point of view (or the point of view they’ve been given from their chosen group). But like all stereotypes, the veteran is all these things and yet none of them, all at the same time. Everyone has their own reasons for joining, for accepting limits on their personal freedoms to serve a higher goal (noble or craven) and so on.
When the veteran is in harm’s way, he (or she) is the hero; upon return a stalwart member of society and a symbol of perseverance. Or, perhaps, if things go badly, a homeless victim of short-sighted policies. Ask the veteran and on any given a day you may get a different answer right from the horse’s mouth.
For the most part, veterans are people who come home and have wants and needs like anyone else. Some of those wants and needs may be out of the ordinary… or they may be as simple as just a cup of coffee, without the need to layer on any extra or special meaning.