I recently discovered an apparel company called Veteran Clothing through a Stolen Valor website. Anyone would assume that this company would be run by veterans, for veterans, but that’s far from the truth. Veteran Clothing is actually run by CEO Billy Troung, a 19 year old entrepreneur whose company mission statement is,
VETERAN is about experience and being original. Your Own Boss. You’ve been in the game for infinite years. Everyone Respects You. No more fancy handshakes, stay Saluting. Remember, you can be a Veteran in anything.
Of course, this has caused uproar within the military veteran community, and many military veterans feel that this diminishes the value of the word veteran and the sacrifices they have made. I am personally angry at what Billy is doing, his practices within the company I view as deplorable and outrageous.
As an Asian American who enlisted in the military, I am saddened by the fact that he would allow to diminish the word sacred to me and to what my fellow brothers in arms hold dear. When people see me in my uniform or when I am asked the question, “Are you a veteran?” In my head I say no, simply because I am not a veteran of any war. I have not been deployed, I have gone to war, I have not left my family to do what is needed of me from my country. But to them, I say yes, because to them, a veteran is anyone who is serving or served in the armed military. That is the general public’s definition of a veteran.
However much I hate saying yes to them because I have not veteran from any war, the thanks I receive from people always makes me feel better. So you can understand when someone like Billy Troung takes a word that has so much meaning to me and my fellow comrades, and twist it to make a profit off of misunderstanding of what the company is about and diminishes the value of the word veteran.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Huynh is a 20 year old Vietnamese American living in Texas, currently working part time at a chocolate store, going to college, and enlisted as a Private First Class in the U.S Army National Guard.