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CAVEAT: The VA is doing great things for veterans and their families, despite its troubles, and the VA in NO WAY has a policy, nor is it preparing a policy that bans offensive speech. However, a well-intentioned group of social workers seem to be trying to change that.

Thanks to comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock poking fun at the absurdity of college Safe Spaces, and South Park’s mockery of the Political Correctness movement with their latest season’s “PC Principal” character, it seemed that the PC culture may have been slowly subsiding here in the United States.

Source: Comedy Central

Source: Comedy Central

 

Does it make you an a**hole to say something that intentionally causes a person emotional distress? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it should be illegal to say hurtful things, nor does it mean that we should have policies changed simply on account of some hurt feelings. My parents taught me at a young age that if somebody else’s words made me feel a certain way, then it was because I chose to provide them that power over my own feelings. “Sticks and stones”, right?

 

For example, if my boss tells me he’s impressed with my work, then it makes me happy. It makes me happy because I value his opinion, and I choose to let his comment affect my emotions. Suppose a stranger tells me that my haircut looks stupid. I am unaffected emotionally, because I don’t care what this individual thinks. (Although I may check a mirror later just to make sure he’s not right). So the way I see it in most cases, people offended by words are choosing to give the “offender” power over them.

 

In the case of Donald Trump, for example, many people claim to be offended by what he says. These people are invariably submitting

Donald Trump Meme

Donald Trump Meme

to Trump, giving him the power to affect their emotions. And they’re actually feeding in to his success in the primaries. One of the greatest contributing factors to Donald Trump’s enduring popularity among conservatives and moderates alike has been his confidence to say things that are seen as Politically Incorrect. The counter-culture to the PC movement has been strong, and there’s a good chance most of us can’t go a whole day without seeing a meme such as this one on social media.

 

 

Now, to the point. According to an article in the Concord Monitor yesterday, a group of social workers in New Hampshire are advocating for a new PC push… to stop using the word “veteran” when talking to veterans. According to Dr. Nicole Sawyer, a psychologist:

 

“The question has changed from ‘Are you a veteran?’ to ‘Have you served in the military?’”

 

One of the main reasons behind this, the social workers say, is because many veterans who had not served during times of war or who hadn’t deployed felt unworthy of the title. This, my friends, is why we use the term “veteran” to refer to any person who has served in the armed forces and “combat veteran” for individuals who have served in a theater of combat as defined by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs!

 

However, it doesn’t end there.

 

“…even military personnel who have seen combat may shy away from the word ‘veteran’ because it feels excessive.”

 

It feels excessive? If you agree, then please comment below. I would really love to know how calling a veteran “veteran” is excessive. The word veteran is not currently, nor has it ever been, pejorative. Back in the Vietnam era, there were certainly vets – including members of my family – who chose not to identify themselves as vets due to the negative stigma at the time. But this is a different time. If there is a veteran in need who seems to be struggling with his or her identify, then maybe it’s best for the social worker to ask more questions and respect the patient’s boundaries, but this kind of policy change is completely absurd. Similar to the whole push to replace the term “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant”, this is a seemingly unnecessary endeavor that only serves to detract from the real issue at hand – which is access to quality veteran healthcare.

 

I am a combat veteran and I approve this message.

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Chris Fox is a Project Coordinator at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, where he recently graduated with an MPA. Prior to that, he was a research fellow at the DHS Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), where his focus was on homegrown violent extremism. He also holds a BA in Psychology and an AAS in Information Systems Management. Chris served for seven years as a TACP, is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continues to serve as a JTAC Instructor in the Texas Air National Guard.