Kelly Thompson: Soldiers are real, not Rambos

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Until last year, I was an officer in the Canadian Forces. Yes, Captain Thompson had an awfully nice ring to it. I served for eight years before being medically released due to a knee injury and bam, I was a civilian overnight trying to make it in the writing biz. From guns to pens has been quite the leap.

      I’ve been lucky to meet many people who are grateful and respectful of our military, occasionally reaching out to shake my hand or say thanks. But what has never ceased to shock me are the insensitive military-related questions and statements that I have been barraged with, which although are occasionally said with genuine curiosity, usually err on the side of rude. I wanted to share some of the most asinine ones in hopes of highlighting the fact that soldiers are real people, not G.I. Joe replicas.

      So you joined the military because you like to kill people?

      Upon hearing that I am a veteran, I’ve received a lot of dirty looks from my fellow Canadians. Many automatically assume that I was a gun-toting Rambo, eager to assuage my killer instinct, but nothing could be more ridiculous or repulsive. I can assure you that most of us join the military because we believe in something bigger; we believe in the hope for peace but reality and history are proof that conflict is human nature. I would love to live in a world in which a military isn’t necessary. Sadly, I’ve seen enough of the world to know that this day will never come.

      I hate that my tax dollars pay your salary.

      I often heard this while I served as part of the security force for the Olympics and I get it; money is tight for everyone and it’s always hard to pay for something when you can’t see the tangible product of that expense. But soldiers sacrifice much of their lives for the safety of others and let me tell you, when bad things happen, you’ll be glad that we’re here. The ice storm of 1998 and Winnipeg floods are proof that our military provides protection at home and abroad—no easy task.

      Have you killed anyone or seen anyone be killed?

      Would you ever want to rehash the most horrible moment in your life? Neither do we. And just because we are trained to kill does not mean that we can emotionally justify it, as none of us ever hope to pull that trigger. I have lost friends and family to both their emotional pain from war as much as I have to actual bullets. Taking a life isn’t an easy thing to ask of someone, so please, don’t ever assume that anyone was excited to do it.

      So, residents of Canada, I’m not asking you to enrol in the military tomorrow. I’m not even asking you to like it. But no matter what you think of the Forces and the government that runs it, at the heart of any military are men and women with real lives who are just doing their jobs. For the most part, they’re well-meaning people who just want to make a difference. Corny? Maybe. But I didn’t join the military because I get off on weapons and gore, but rather I enrolled because I believed that in some way, I could help improve the lives of others. Soldiers died so you could have the right to protest, argue, laugh, and eat, and that sacrifice, at the very least, should earn some respect.

      Captain (retired) Kelly Thompson is a writer and editor living in Vancouver.




      Oct 26, 2012 at 3:20pm

      It's sad that many people are insensitive assholes, but I suspect the comments about the Olympics security detail might very well have been due to the fact that the Olympics themselves was a huge waste of money that people resented, rather than any reflection on you.

      17 7Rating: +10

      ex-Haney guy

      Oct 26, 2012 at 4:37pm

      Good luck in civilian life.
      I suspect those who "error on the side of rude" probably-if they're males have a bit of closested envy-or just plain feel they possess less courage than you. That and no fucking class or tact.
      Hope to read more of your work...hey what about commonting on some social-political topics.

      12 9Rating: +3

      Imperialist's pawn

      Oct 26, 2012 at 5:06pm

      Only three highlighted questions...too bad you didn't include questions pertaining to the rolls, goals, and objective of the military. Whose interests are the military fighting for?

      "Soldiers died so you could have the right to protest, argue, laugh, and eat, and that sacrifice, at the very least, should earn some respect. "

      That cliche statement is hard to swallow:
      How did the military provide us the ability to laugh? By killing civilians is other countries? By further developing weapons and conditions to destroy all life on earth? By ridding us from the dreaded laughing police?

      How did the military provide us food? By facilitating the interests of large corporations that destroy our food. Or perhaps by usurping vast qualities of resources?

      The military saved our ability to argue? Yeah, the military is known for it's tolerance.

      And if the military provided the "Right to protest" perhaps they should provide it again because given the militarization of police enforcement and the trends of civil liberties the right is quickly shrinking.

      Your ignorance make me feel sad for humanity...


      Oct 26, 2012 at 6:34pm

      I think there is a huge need for a greater connection between Canadians and the military. So that the public understand what the military is doing, appreciate the bravery of serving soldiers, and can scrutinise it's actions on an informed basis when necessary.


      Oct 26, 2012 at 7:52pm

      "Soldiers died so you could have the right to protest, argue, laugh, and eat, and that sacrifice, at the very least, should earn some respect. "

      Since WW2 this is no longer the case. They die for oil and political gain. Sorry if thats hard to swallow, but its true.

      adam gee

      Oct 26, 2012 at 8:56pm

      i may not believe in the interests of our federal govt, our military policies, or anything else that our tubby, helmet-haired PM gets involved in, but the men and women who serve are courageous and deserve our support. bravo, Kelly


      Oct 26, 2012 at 8:57pm

      Miss Thompson is more than qualified to make the statements that she has. Like most people I see war as a bad thing but we sometimes have to engage in it to convince other, less enlightened people that tyranny is not the answer.

      Canadian Army


      Oct 26, 2012 at 8:58pm

      I can honestly say, from reading the above comments, that it is nice to walk on air and have a "holier than thou" opinion of right and wrong.

      Kerosene Lantern

      Oct 26, 2012 at 10:15pm

      What about Canada's foreign policy? Isn't it based on a pack of lies?


      Oct 26, 2012 at 10:32pm

      as someone who is "holier than thou" i can assure you its more frustrating then anything else.

      I used to be amazed at how stupid everyone was, but now it never surprises me.