I’m proud to say I served in the military. I served with some very fine men and recall the “old days” with private nostalgia. (No, I did not go to Vietnam.)

I haven’t joined a veterans’ organization like the VFW or the American Legion. Perhaps I should, but I like to keep to myself. Well, honestly, I weep too easily when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played or vets are called to stand at Memorial Day or Veterans Day services.

Rethinking a Benefit of Service

Obtaining a concealed carry permit is relatively easy for a veteran with an honorable discharge, especially here in Florida. Fill out the paperwork, pay the government and get a picture. I took a two-day course in New Mexico. But in Florida, Georgia or Utah — where I also have active licenses — I didn’t need a course or class. I just had to present my DD214 as proof of service. I’m wondering if, perhaps — Second Amendment arguments aside — that’s too easy.

The survivors of Belleau Wood are all gone. The men of Bataan and Normandy are disappearing as are the veterans of Chosin Reservoir and Heartbreak Ridge. So many men, as well as a few women, sent to nameless places. I served in and patrolled borders of countries that no longer exist; West Germany, East Germany, Czechoslovakia.

But here’s what I’m thinking: Service alone, unless we were in a specialized branch such as Military Police, should not necessarily qualify a person for a concealed carry permit. I believe that military training and service are fundamentally different from the challenges we face as civilians.

A young woman in an olive drab Coast Guard flight suit inspects the machine gun attached to the pen door of an orange Coast Guard helicopter.

You were a warrior then and you’re a warrior now. But that was then… Isn’t it time for some updated self-defense training? (Photo by Rick Sapp)

Specific Training — A Current Duty

Although I took a branch transfer into what I thought at the time would be a more glamorous occupation, my commission was 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry. If my platoon came under fire, we would have worked as a unit to close and eliminate the enemy. We would have had support from a variety of weapons, including field artillery or even helicopter gunships. Is that good training for a home invasion?

And if you were fortunate enough to serve in the Navy, Coast Guard or Air Force — Marines and certain units aside — you were farther from small arms combat. Only approximately one-third of those who serve are in combat arms.

With infinite respect to men digging a foxhole or women piloting an Apache, I want those in troops that survived the destruction of a Bouncing Betty to enroll in current defensive training. I would like the USCCA to develop comprehensive options for training across the U.S., and the stodgy NRA to offer real courses in concealed carry.

I want veterans, myself included, to stop relying on the training received a generation or two ago. Enroll in courses that will give a one-on-one advantage when the mugger jumps you from an alleyway or a drug addict hopped up on H attacks.

Don’t think that because you served once, many years ago, that you have done all you need to be capable of self-defense. We’re all getting older. Our eyesight isn’t as good. (Are you still effective if your glasses get knocked off or your hearing aid knocked out? Can you defend yourself after one whack on the nose?)

So, veteran friends, thank you for your service. Whether you were a cook or a gunner, you were one of the world’s finest. Now, let’s all remember Douglas MacArthur: Duty. Honor. Country … Training.

About Rick Sapp

Rick Sapp earned his Ph.D. in social anthropology after his time in the U.S. Army working for the 66th Military Intelligence Group, USAREUR, during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Following his time in Paris, France, he worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before turning to journalism and freelance writing. Along with being published in several newspapers and magazines, Rick has authored more than 50 books for a variety of publishers.