• James McNeil

We are family. Let's act like it.

I’ll never forget the first time a veteran friend called me “brother.” I was at a low point, and it almost went by without me noticing it. But after a few seconds I asked, “What did you call me?”

“I called you brother,” he responded. “We are both veterans. We are brothers.”

I smiled at that, and my mood instantly lifted. When I started attending UNCW, I met some veterans who truly demonstrated that we were family. I met men and women I was honored to call brother and sister.

I’ve also met some veterans who do not act like a brother or sister. I’ve met some very judgmental, harsh, and seemingly unfeeling people as a veteran.

One thing I’ve learned from my fellow veterans is that it does not matter what you call each other. It matters how you treat each other. This past Tuesday, the nation took to the polls to select a new president among a host of other elected offices. We are still sifting through the rubble of the aftermath of that day, and I’m ashamed of the way we are treating each other.

Here’s a (not so) gentle reminder for those in the US dealing with the aftermath of the election. You are AMERICANS. And for my brothers and sisters, you are veterans. You don’t have to agree, but we need to treat each other with respect, especially when veteran suicide numbers are so high.

Yes, it is that important. The way you treat each other is that important. Would you want to open up and share your struggles with someone who disrespects you based on your political choices? Neither would I.

Let’s start showing each other the respect we would want if we were struggling.

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