The phrase “troubled veteran” has become synonymous with veterans, but it’s not the only way to describe them.
Some vets feel the phrase’s use in describing a person who hasn’t completed a certain length of service can be offensive.
“If I say, ‘Oh, I’m a troubled veteran,’ that’s a lot of baggage that’s being thrown on veterans,” said veteran Mark Miller, who is the president of Veterans Today, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans.
“You don’t want to go around telling them that.”
Miller and his organization have been trying to stop the term from being used in the first place.
“I think people are misinterpreting what ‘toughened veteran’ means,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean they have PTSD, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The only thing it means is that they’ve completed the Army’s standard service obligation.
That’s what it says on the card.
It’s not a service obligation.”
Some veterans are also uncomfortable using the phrase “disgruntled veteran” in their work.
They say it implies that veterans aren’t doing what they should be doing, which is volunteering, caring for their communities and serving the country.
“A lot of these vets don’t feel they’re being labeled as disgruntled veterans,” Miller said.
The National Association of Veteran Service Organizations has a number of programs and resources aimed at educating people about what the term means.
The organization’s Executive Director, Jennifer Stoddard, said the term is often used to refer to someone who doesn’t have the mental or physical stamina to serve their country.
“That’s not what we’re trying to accomplish with this term,” she said.
Stoddart added that many veterans do get through their service and that many vets who have been discharged or not deployed do return to active duty, though it’s often not immediately apparent that they have completed their service obligation and are now retired.
“There are a lot more veterans that are still out there, so it’s something that we’re still trying to get people to understand, understand that there’s still a lot to do and that they should continue to serve,” Stoddar said.
She added that she doesn’t think the term “tougher veteran” is an appropriate term for someone who is still serving and has completed the standard service obligations.
“When you think about it, you’re talking about a veteran who’s been through war and has made it out of the Army,” Stoodard said.
Veterans who have gone on to active service and are no longer veterans often feel that they’re still living the dream, but they still have a lot left to do.
“They still have things to do, but that doesn’t really define them as a veteran anymore,” she added.
Stooder said she thinks the term veterans should stop using the term and that the term shouldn’t be used in a derogatory way.
“We’re trying not to use that word because it’s used as a derogatory term,” Stodard said, noting that there are veterans who have served for 20 years and still haven’t completed the service obligation, or who haven’t left active duty and are retired.
Veterans Today advocates to have a conversation about the issue, and said they are working to change the language of the term.
“We think that people are being misinformed, and that we have to be respectful,” Stokes said.
Veteran’s organizations are trying to help veterans understand that the Army and Navy are a separate entity, and to be able to have an accurate conversation about service.
They also want to help educate veterans about how they can participate in their communities.
The association’s advocacy director, Stephanie Meehan, said that it’s important to remember that the military is different than the civilian world.
“The military is not an equal opportunity employer,” she told ABC News.
Meean said that many of the groups working on veterans’ issues are based in the states and that veterans have often complained about being told that the phrase is offensive.”
This term is just another form of political correctness that we are constantly seeing and being forced to deal with,” she continued.
Meean said that many of the groups working on veterans’ issues are based in the states and that veterans have often complained about being told that the phrase is offensive.