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  • James McNeil

Fireworks and Unfair Comparisons

I used to love fireworks. As a kid, my brother and I couldn’t wait for the annual fireworks show every July 4th celebration. We’d find a spot where we could watch the fireworks and stay there all night enjoying the show.


Today, I’m not a fan of fireworks. Like many of my fellow veterans, I came back from overseas with a different view of them. When I first left the US Army, many of my friends were understanding of the fact that I was no longer a fan. One friend in particular would pick me up on the days my city was hosting fireworks celebrations and take me somewhere I could not hear them. He did this for a few years.

Not long ago, the idea of not liking fireworks, or being triggered by them as many veterans are, became a point of contention. It wasn’t the civilians, whom many veterans thought would be the source, but other veterans who started to deride those who had issues with fireworks.

“If you actually left the FOB, you would understand!” (FOB stands for Forward Operating Base.)

This and many other comments were hurled from fellow veterans as if those who had issues with fireworks were somehow “less than” and their struggles “didn’t count.” I wish I could say it isn’t still ongoing, but it is. And it’s not just over the fireworks issue. Here’s a couple of simple truths that I wish I did not have to write.

Nobody holds veterans back like their fellow veterans. Nobody.

Also, the main reason veterans compare and minimize their struggles is because of the way they’re treated by their fellow veterans.

To my fellow veterans, I ask this. Support each other. A little healthy competition is okay, but when you go beyond the healthy competition to honestly believing everyone else is “less than” you, then you have become a hindrance to your fellow veterans. In this suicide epidemic, that is deadly. Why would anyone open up to you if they know you see yourself as better than them? Why would anyone tell you their struggles if they know you’re going to deride them for those same struggles?

The need to support each other is stronger than it ever has been. Reach out to your fellow veterans and offer them support.

If you're dealing with these unfair comparisons, and you would like a way to overcome this and other obstacles that can lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations, pick up your copy of Finding Your Personal Mission, available on Amazon and Audible today! If you're not dealing with these, this book can still empower you to help your friends and family who are dealing with them, so pick up a copy for yourself and a copy for a friend.

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