Okay this is a joke, this class isn’t actually taught in TAPS/SEPS, but it should be.
The transition from active duty to civilian is tough. It really is. I’ve lived it, and I know how it can be.
Probably the hardest part that no one tells you though?
I’m not ready to draw a conclusive correlation between veteran suicide rates and acceptance of your new civilian life (if that were even possible), but I would anecdotally argue that the veterans that tend to do the best on the outside are the ones that really leave their former active duty life behind completely. This means not wearing moto hats and veteran-branded T-shirts from any one of over 9000 veteran apparel companies; this means not lamenting civilians from your bearded mouth and your Facebook statuses; this means avoiding toxic mentalities and memes that permeate much of online veteran culture.
It means truely integrating back into the culture you left years ago.
Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get together with veterans you served with and enjoy some good stories and memories over a few drinks. These are normal, healthy activities that I think anyone would encourage.
What I’m referring to with this comic is the insistent need to identify as a veteran before your individuality as a person. Veterans have a unique skill set, experience and a capacity to the be the best leaders in American history. Unfortunately, many are bogged down in the poisonous subcultures that so easily infect the recently separated.
Odd I’m sure, coming from a guy that draws comics about the Marine Corps. Illustration and art is my profession, and I keep a healthy mental distance. I’ve mentioned before that I consider Terminal Lance to be an “Active Duty” brand, and I stand by that despite my distance from my own service. Perhaps maintaining this mentality has been why Terminal Lance is not often bogged down by many of the pitfalls of other “military” brands and pages.
My allegiance is, and has always been, to the Lance Corporal. I feel this way because I remember distinctly just how much it fucking sucks to be in the suck. I like to think that Terminal Lance offers some respite to the monotony of the barracks life in the form of an illustrated 3-panel comic that understands.
Of course, I love veterans as well, being one myself. I just find the “veteran” isolationist subculture to be more frustrating than the average Lance Coolie wishing he was somewhere else.
It doesn’t take a scholar to notice that every single time there’s some outrage over a “military” issue in the news media, it is never the active duty guys that actually care. The most vocal outbursts of anger and malice come solely from the Angry Facebook Veteran. One could argue that overarching censorship of active duty individuals keeps them from being more vocal, but I would disagree. I think most Lance Corporals just have too much to worry about to care, and are good at rolling with the punches anyway.
On a side note, if you noticed this comic looks a little different, it’s because I did the entire thing from start-to-finish (including this blog post) on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. This is different than how I normally do it using my desktop and a Cintiq, but I wanted to see if I could make this work. It has actually been a success! A convoluted success, but a success nonetheless. I want to do a more indepth review of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil (a year late) from the perspective of a professional artist and how it can actually work in a realistic workflow.
Turns out it’s more difficult than you’d think.
Lastly, I just want to mention again that I will be in Brooklyn this weekend at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday! Come by and hear the panel, say hi, and get something signed.