Serving in the military has a different effect on different people, from pride to dread. This largely stems from an individual’s personality and their reasons for signing up in the first place.
And it’s pretty obvious when the individual didn’t have the best intentions in mind when joining.
According to one guy who wrote into the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, not only did his cousin not sign up for the best of reasons, but he also seems to have a pretty maladjusted sense of identity since he served.
Redditor Throw_Away_3484790 wondered if he was in the wrong for not playing along with his cousin’s newfound sense of status.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my cousin he wasn’t a hero for being in the army?”
The OP stressed first he has tremendous respect for the military, despite what he said to his cousin.
“I just want to start off by saying I have nothing but respect for anyone serving in the military. I have multiple friends who serve and even they are divided on this story so I thought I’d bring it here.”
“My family had a BBQ during summer 2019 BC (Before [the pandemic]) and my cousin (23[Male]) was there with his new gf (girlfriend) and his parents.”
“He had a bit to drink and started going off on how us ‘civilians’ take him for granted and that we’d ‘never understand what it’s like to be a hero like him’.”
“He talked s**t about me (28[Male]) for going to college and not serving. I just pushed it off, and changed the subject but [he] always came right back to it.”
The OP finally had enough.
“After over 2hrs and a few beers I snapped and said that he wasn’t a hero just because he’s in the military especially since he was forced to go into it and he should be in jail.”
“Then I reminded him of how he got there, all in front of the gf who apparently didn’t know the real story.”
It turns out the OP’s cousin was given an ultimatum and elected to enlist.
“My cousin has always been the black sheep of the family.”
“He ran with a bad crowd, always seemed to have loads of money despite not having a job, and got into lots of fights. We all assumed he was a dealer but never knew for certain.”
“When he was 18 he got pulled over and the cops found a loaded handgun with the serial number filed off.”
“He was facing over a decade in prison but the judge offered to allow him to enlist into the army instead. I didn’t know that this was a thing but we live in the south so I’m not shocked.”
The cousin didn’t like the OP’s comments.
“The army seems to have given him more discipline but he’s still the same a**hole, just in camo.”
“My cousin reacted poorly as expected and [started] screaming at me and his parents practically had to drag him out. I haven’t spoken to him since.”
“So, was I an a**hole for telling him he’s not a hero for joining the army to avoid jail time?”
Fellow Redditors, rating the OP’s level of support on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some Redditors were really taken aback by the cousin’s persistence that he was a hero.
“I used to live in a military city with 3 bases and still never heard anyone talk like that. Not even my friends and family who are combat veterans talk like that and they are deeply proud of serving.”
“I have met veterans with purple [hearts] that still don’t refer to themselves as heroes. If someone brags about being a hero they are almost certainly not a hero.” – ifeelsryforthemonkey
“My dad is a combat vet. He has told me about his service. He has also saved lives both during and after his service. He has told me that he absolutely is not a hero and I better not ever call him that, he gets upset about it. I respect his feelings on this; he would have some choice words about OP’s cousin for sure.” – TheGrumpiestGnome
“My Dad is a vet and he never goes on about it or demands discounts or whatever. There’s no military stuff in our house other than my Dad’s old uniforms. You’d never know, it’s just kind of an old job for him. He served for 15 years (he was an officer).”
“My husband’s stepbrother who did like a year and then washed out won’t shut up about his service and has all these military decals on his car.” – -Coffeespoons-
“That’s the difference between the real deal and the a**holes according to what I’ve observed about the men and women who actually earned and were awarded medals they only display when required to by military protocol.” – rae77777
Others agreed and pointed out the quiet ones tend to be the greatest of heroes.
“I work with combat veterans.”
“People join the military for various reasons including:”
“They are patriotic. They believe in the honor of servitude.”
“It’s a family tradition.”
“They are escaping abusive homes.”
“They have sociopathic traits and it allows them to act out with approval.”
“No one I have ever worked with, who falls into the first three camps, talks like your brother did.”
“NTA.” – Ifartalot2
“Absolutely this. I have a friend who’s just been awarded an MBE for her military service and who has done a tonne of heroic things… I called her a hero once and she laughed. Genuine hero’s tend not to consider themselves to be so.” – hnsnrachet
“NTA The hallmark of a real hero is that they never call themselves heroes.” – rae77777
“The only way I know someone is a hero is when someone calls them a hero and they bashfully reply that they’re not a hero and were just doing what any other person would do.” – MoveItFootballHead
Serving in the military is no small feat, and feeling some sense of pride for making such a contribution is acceptable, if not expected by some.
Throwing around the term “hero,” however, is a tad careless and insensitive to those who sacrificed themselves in a larger way.
Since the military seems to have helped the OP’s cousin improve his self-discipline, perhaps with time his perspective will improve as well.