On November 13th, I attended The Veterans Project on ASU’s Tempe campus. The Director of our center, Steve Borden, and our Military Advocate, Joanna Sweatt, were two of the four veterans who shared their stories on stage. Their stories are drastically different from the plight of AJ and his wife whose stories were the focus of Basetrack Live, which I saw earlier this semester. As audience members, we were privileged to hear the voices of service members who are called POGS (Persons Other than Grunts), a derogatory term bestowed upon support services individuals by infantrymen who feel that their service is honestly superior to the rest. Things are changing and the Marine Times recently wrote about this internal conflict.
I can’t entirely fault infantrymen for this language because Marines often feel our service is superior to the other service branches. I think it is exposure to one another’s service that ultimately teaches us how our viewpoints are wrong. We walk around with an essentialist approach until we are taught to see others in a different light. At work, I am building many friendships with former sailors, airmen, and soldiers as well as infantry Marines, who I rarely interacted with while on active duty. We are playful with each other in our discussions about how respective service branches are better. However, we are constantly building camaraderie in our veteran community and building a new sense of family for ourselves.