Editor’s Letter: I support veterans, I don’t support the military

Understanding the struggles veterans face can help us understand the failures of the military industrial complex.


Savannah Peifer visiting her father during a training open to families. Courtesy of Savannah Peifer.

Savannah Peifer, Editor-in-Chief

I was 4-years old when I was introduced to the concept of mortality. 

Growing up, I never understood what it meant when my father would tell me he fought for my freedom. In fact, it never registered with me until today. 

I’ve contemplated for months what I wanted to convey in this letter, I’ve shed tears over it. There is an immense pressure in being a military dependent that I share my thoughts without adding to a strong stigma already stacked against our veterans. 

As I spoke to my mom, something my dad said made every fear float away. 

“Your feelings will not disappoint me. I fought for you to be able to have those feelings and to have the freedom of the press to share them,” he said. 

As someone who surrounds myself with others who have progressive beliefs, I’ve noticed there tends to be a disconnect where people are quick to criticize the people who served, and not the system who victimizes and tears soldiers apart. 

I support veterans, I don’t support the military. 

When I was four a physician diagnosed my 6-year-old brother with a brain tumor. At this time, my father was deployed to Iraq. While facing the possibility my brother could pass, I was also comprehending what it meant for my father to be in an infantry position, his life in danger every day. My father was flown to Seattle, where my brother’s operation was, and stayed through my brother’s recovery. 

From there, we moved multiple times, living in Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 

I don’t have lifelong friends. The military takes that chance away from anyone connected. 

Anytime I asked him about mental health and how the military treated it, he would open a drawer full of pills. 

“They pump you full and tell you to shut up,” he told me once, and I’ve never told him but it’s always stayed in my head. 

My father retired from the Army after 23 years. His retirement is what opened my eyes to the disservice veterans face when re-entering civilian life. The day he retired was the last day he spoke to his social worker. At the time, he had given over half of his life to a system that threw him to the curb. Speaking with veterans for this issue, multiple of them repeated that sentiment. 

The suicide rate for veterans is 150 times higher than civilians, according to the American Addiction Centers. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 33,129 veterans are homeless. 

One in 10 veterans are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders, according to the National Institute of Health. 

These are just a few of the horrifying statistics that show how little support veterans have. 

These are people. It’s easy to place the blame on the people who are in front of us rather than a system that preys on weaknesses and exploits them. 

My father always told me, “choose the hard right over the easy wrong.” For a lot of us, the “hard right” is being able to acknowledge the failures of an industrial complex while acknowledging the good in the people who served.

Is your anger towards them, or is your anger towards a system that needs to be rebuilt entirely? 

This is the final print issue for my time as editor-in-chief of the UP and I’ve designed it to make you rethink how you see veterans. The truth is uncomfortable, and if that’s how you feel, I’ve done my job.

Editor’s note: This story is in the UP’s latest issue that can be found physically on the distribution boxes around campus or digitally through our Issuu page.

Savannah Peifer is the editor-in-chief for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories DM her on instagram @ginger.savvy or email her at [email protected]