Community reintegration as a returning veteran can be a difficult process. While I've had the luck of meeting great people along the way over the past few years, the journey was also littered with highly toxic people who sought to boost themselves at the expense of veterans. Here are just a few of the characters of my own personal reintegration nightmares. You might know some of them:
Motto: "Where's the camera? I have something to say about helping veterans before going back to screwing them over."
The Penguin in Batman is often seen as an unattractive, sadistic, megalomaniacal monster. The veteran community version is no different. The Penguin likes to keep physically attractive veterans around them, perhaps to remind others of any perceived power or to compensate for their own grotesqueness (physically or psychologically). The Penguin is often seen in veterans organization leadership roles in which they maintain a group attractive male veterans or celebrities to pitch the sad stories to acquire more funds, and bribe women veterans into complacency and silence with swanky events and VIP passes. Both men and women veterans may continue to tow the company line in exchange for high-level networking, but few have broken away and spoken out about Penguinesque corruption and lip service. However, the Penguin does everything they can to boost their PR and clout with a fancy company sign which appeals to the mainstream media. In reality, their store has no inventory and any meaningful interactions are outsourced to unpaid, and sometimes actually caring, volunteers who are fooled by the gimmicks and branding.
The Double Agent
Motto: "You're so right on about that nonprofit! Tell me more so I can tell them...er...help you."
A Double Agent is an individual who pretends to act as an agent of positive change for veterans while, in fact, acting on behalf of corrupt organizations and officials. They will seduce you through compliments and feigned support for your feedback on veterans organizations, programs, and events; then immediately turn to those sources with your information for personal gain. The Double Agent is a sad, lonely character but they are usually quite personable at first. Unfortunately, getting tangled with a Double Agent can result in long-term danage. They are out to benefit for themselves and it's often at your expense.
Motto: "F*ck your problems; what about me?"
Ad hominem attacks are the modus operandi of the Leaker. They are in a lot of pain, most likely from trauma, and may also come from the veteran community from any era. Bottom line: they are in dire need of clinical attention - not the attention garnered on social media sites or veterans forums. Leakers often exhibit a lack of control in speech and/or behavior that indicates trouble with impulse control and other mental health-related issues. Leakers' sentences often begin with “I” and it doesn’t matter what the topic is, the main point is their thoughts and opinions. A Leaker doesn't care about you or what you have to say, and often you can tell by the one-sided conversations. Leakers often go after PTSD and/or MST survivors with a fervor to shred their support system or credibility, in effort to inflict the pain and torment in which they experience but will not face. The problem is that the Leaker is really self-absorbed and cannot see outside of themselves or their issues just yet - and more than likely has no idea of what damage they do.
Motto: "Why won't CNN have me on as a PTSD expert? I'm not a veteran or a clinician, but I blog and share articles, damn it!"
The Usurper is an illegitimate claimant to credibility in the veteran community. This may include a person who succeeds in establishing themselves as a caregiver or expert without any clinical background, certification, or relevant experience. The Usurper can often be found stealing your contacts - typically via social media - in the veteran community and/or media to build upon their shaky or non-existent credibility; canoodling with VIPs in hopes of joining their circles and appearing on mainstream news outlets as an "expert" on veterans issues; and re-posting military and veteran-related articles that show nothing more than a superficial solidarity. The Usurper is looking for power, but without the hard work or credibility that leads to any deserved title. They will latch onto you so long as you're of use to them as a stepping stone on the way to the top and discard you, or even attack you, when it appears to be convenient and strategic in establishing any form of legitimacy. Bear in mind, outshining the Usurper in any way is hurtful to them, and they will only befriend you if you appear to be in a position of power, something in which they are voracious consumer.
Motto: "Welcome home veterans! Unless you're a woman, LBGT, or a minority."
The Gull is, in many ways, like a seagull. The Gull flies onto your beautiful beach of healing and ideas for progress and takes a giant dump all over it - and steals your sandwich simultaneously. Often, the Gull takes on the hater role of the anti-women in combat/anti-gay/anti-multiculturalism/anti-equality crusader with great, unapologetic pride. The Gull is a douchebag. See Military.com's article comment sections that cover women veterans or any other non-phallic topic to see the public shaming of women combat veterans, rape survivors, and anyone who dares to question DoD/VA practices. If you post anything on women performing effectively in combat or you're a survivor of Military Sexual Trauma, you can count on the Gull to take a giant sh*t on your service and bashing you quite openly while waving a flag and wearing a yellow ribbon.
The Green Mushroom
Motto: "I'm just better than you. Deal with it!"
If you've every played Super Mario Brothers in your life, you might remember that special green mushroom that gave you the "1-up" and made you bigger. Well, the Green Mushroom in the veteran community has the intent on making oneself bigger, and to shrink your confidence. Always bigger, better, and far superior to you in every way. Green Mushrooms are afraid of being perceived as weak or insignificant. Green Mushrooms engage in perpetual power plays that provide them with a temporary feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes, the Green Mushroom is a faux veteran supporter or self-proclaimed veterans advocate, and it is their desire to make you feel less significant as their accomplishments in the veteran community, in one way or another, are reportedly far more impressive - even if they've never served in the military. Their knowledge acquired from the internet and second-hand sources are always far more important than what you have to offer. Sometimes, the Green Mushroom is a veteran who must engage in a - for lack of a better term - pissing contest with you regarding military service, deployments, or other military-related accomplishments. It is the Green Mushroom's desire to be "The Joneses" that you keep up with. But do not bother to engage, it'll just make the Green Mushroom feel far more important than they really are and enable further problematic behavior.
Motto: "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy, come on, Veteran, let me knooooow!"
Well, I couldn't name this one Mrs. Robinson (see The Graduate) because this happens in both men and women, but the Robinson has been creeping into the ranks of Cougarville with a fury. The Robinson may only be interested in helping male veterans, especially if they are younger and more attractive, and will quickly push you aside if you remotely appear to get in the way of their imagined spotlight. One way to check is to ask a possible Robinson - who might be doing a hard campaign for "the boys overseas" like a 1940s pin-up girl - if they are doing anything to support women veterans. If you get a blank stare or a seething response like "I support the MEN!!!", then you can be assured that you are conversing with a Robinson. Robinsons don't help veterans out of the goodness of their hearts, they do it to satisfy a low self-esteem and to gain the attention of people they believe might not otherwise interact with them. And that attention they get is perceived to be an attraction. Be careful of getting too close, Robinsons do bite.
11 December, 2013
Its hilarious that Business Insider, who previously praised women who were openly against women in combat, also called this commercial "overtly feminist." In case you're wondering, feminism is really this incredibly outrageous idea that women are human beings too. Imagine that. Bravo to Pantene (Philippines) for creating this insightful work of marketing art!
"70% of men think that women need to downplay their personality to be accepted. Pantene asks everyone to whip away the double standards that hold women back. Because when you stand strong, you shine. It's time we put an end to labels against women. Pantene believes that when you stand strong, you shine."
And no, feminism is not a dirty word.
#WhipIt Labels Against Women @Pantene @panteneph