This one is going to make somebody mad.

(also may have some cussing so you have been warned)

I don’t mean for that to happen, but I have noticed this topic on some of the veteran’s Facebook pages over the past few years and I already know that some people are going to be pissed off.

I am very sorry.


But I have a bit of a rant.

Here goes. First, if you ever served in the military and were honorably discharged, thank you very much for your service. I am proud to have you as a brother or sister and know that you are very special and unique. Not all of your generation served and I have heard that it may be as low as one percent of any generation that put on the uniform of the United States of America. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now about your military discount.

I was standing in line at the service counter of (insert name of home improvement store here) to return a basement drain grate that I had purchased in error. Debbie had warned me that it looked like it was the wrong size but sometimes I am stubborn.

So there I was waiting in a long line at the (insert name of home improvement store here) waiting to return my grate. I heard a commotion behind me. It was loud and pretty obnoxious. I turned around to look and there was a very large (make that morbidly obese) older man in an old jacket and shaggy haircut sticking out from under his ball cap.

Older guy had a young clerk cornered and was giving him the business. Not the kind you would really hope he would be giving. It was a good old fashioned “How dare you, don’t you know I was in the military rant”. There were no distinguishing marks on old boy like veterans’ pins or insignia or even the obligatory Vietnam Era hat, just a snarly look on his unshaved face as he ripped the poor worker a brand new you know what.

I can’t remember all of the conversation but I was listening as I stood in line waiting to return my grate. It went something like this:

“How long have you worked here son? Don’t you know anything about the military discount I should get? What do you mean its only on holidays? What difference does it make if I was retired or not, I did FOUR YEARS.”

Everything from that point on became like the conversation you used to hear on Charlie Brown’s Christmas Carol:

“Waa wa wa waaaah. Whaaaaaaaa wa wa wa wa.”  

ending predictably with:

“I’ll just go to (insert name of the other well known home improvement store here).”

Don’t get me wrong. Four years is a long time.

I know. I did it a few times. In fact, I was one of those guys who did it at least five times. I distinctly remember what many guys used to call us back in the day. If you were in the service, you probably remember it too.


It was like a curse word. It indicated that you were a diggit or someone who had nothing better to do with your time than keep reenlisting. People made fun of you when you weren’t looking and gave you a hard time after you shipped over. I know because I was a Career Counselor and my job was to try and convince people that the military had more to offer them if they would just stay for another four years (or less in some cases).

Command Career Counselor

I actually had guys quit speaking to me after I started wearing the CCC Badge, But there were others who would quietly come and talk to me about assignments or reenlistment bonuses. I took the time to listen to them and we developed plans together for their next duty. Most of them got what they wanted. But in the end, there were still those that called me a Lifer.

They ended up being close.

I am Navy for life. I have seen it transform so many men and women into better people. I witnessed the personal growth that resulted in advancement and adventure. So many people who I worked with that ended up as Chiefs and Officers.  Many of those also got a first class education that served them well when they finally retired.

One of those common things I hear from former sailors who are my age (mid-sixties) is how much they wish they had stayed long enough to get a retirement. I started my retirement 24 years ago. This is that anniversary year where I am now retired longer than I served. The paychecks and health care were worth the sacrifices so long ago.

Yep, I was a lifer.

In some cases a few businesses will still offer a nice bonus in the form of a discount because I am retired. Its really nice but I don’t think its a right nor a privilege. It could go away at any time and I will still probably shop at (insert names of both major home improvement stores). I happen to know that they both have gifted many veterans over the years through their direct giving programs and their foundations.

To those who did four years (or less) but still got an honorable discharge, I sincerely thank you for your service.

But I have a favor to ask. Maybe the reason you didn’t like the military was because some overbearing asshole lifer made your life miserable. Fair enough. But the next time you are in (insert home improvement store’s name here) try not to be such an asshole yourself if you don’t get a discount that is neither your right nor your privilege. Besides, the kid in the apron probably had nothing to do with the decision.

Bring on the attacks.

Mister Mac

Lifer, US Navy (Retired)


13 thoughts on “Lifer

  1. Great posting
    I have run across the same individuals (male gender) behaving in a similar manner.
    I have challenged them on their behavior and embarrassed them after making sure they are not armed
    Public humiliation usually does the trick

    1. I gave it some thought. There were two managers nearby and neither of them approached the blustering bag of bloviating. Next time, I will be more assertive

  2. NOT AN ATTACK !!!!

    Spot Right On Mister Mac !!!

    I live fairly near the (home improvement store that only gives the military discount on holidays for non disabled) but I usually ask and they give it to me anyway. The other (home improvement) gives me the discount automatically if I use my credit card, as I signed up and gave the requested information. However, it’s about 5 miles away so, I take my chances and use the closer one. I also live in an apartment so, it only for a few items or a special project I’m working on.

    There are many restaurants that give “veterans FREE meals” at least once a year. I like several of them, but also make it a point to visit them with my family as well, and also go there myself a time or two in addition to the Freebee. They help me, so I have no problem helping them back.

    Thanks for the article and hope that the “ATTACKS” are few, but I know that you know how to handle them, so again, “KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK”.

  3. Good job Mr Mac. I’ve got you by about five years. I sometimes feel a little uneasy asking of they(what ever business) offer a mlitary discount. There are those(non servers) who like to take us to task for asking for a discount. Screw them. I never asked them for anything while several hundred feet inder the water, several hundred(or thousand) miles from home. However, even with 26 years, I dont get ” grabby or gimme” attitude.
    Green Board !

  4. Once again, spot on Mister Mac! I had planned on a career, but wife #1 had other plans. I treasure the time spent on the boats being derided as a ‘nuc’ and much of what I learned I’ve applied throughout my life. Regrets, yeah a few. There are a few nights I play the ‘if only’ game, but God had other plans. I am where I need to be now to fit into His plan and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keep writing!

  5. You are “spot-on” Mr. Mac…Some vets don’t understand the difference between “Honorably Discharged” and “Retired Military”…I learned the difference early. Me and my two highschool “shipmates” enlisted in SUBDIV 5-7 (USNR) in Baltimore…We all served our two tears active plus two weeks/year duty on a various “boats” on the East Coast. I was honorably discharged after my 6 years “reverse” duty and continued my work at a DOD contractor (Westinghouse Underseas Division, Annapolis MD) as a Sonar Systems Engineer (worked w/ SSNs & EB & NUWC for 45 years). My two buddies stayed in the local USNR for 20+ years and “Retired” honorably…Thanks…and “HOOYAH”…

  6. Poor guy. Obviously he needed to unload since it would’ve been more productive to discuss with a manager who has authority to make exceptions? Thanks for sharing this, and as always, your perspectives. We so often see eye-to-eye… ;). s/Darrell

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