It has been more than a year now that I have been out of active Army service. I served for five years and traveled to much of the world, including Iraq.
When I came back, I was just like any other veteran coming home -- jobless and with little support to keep me going. I found a decent job for a security company, and mostly now I work weekends only so that I can continue going to school full time.
I recently began buying the Star Tribune every Sunday. I find it informative and well-written. The stories are mostly without political bias and cover a broad news spectrum. I have to admit that Sundays are the only days I have time to read the paper.
I have noticed a few major articles that involved military veterans, particularly members of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division.
The first one I noticed ran in the Opinion Exchange section on March 22 under the headline "Red Bulls for hire." It was about employers traveling to Kuwait to assist National Guard members in searching for jobs. The article sparked my interest, but I put it down without concern since it was the first of its kind that I had seen.
However, a second article ("Vet heard voices, sought help -- and was turned away," April 15) began to raise my awareness about the reporting on veterans. What struck me was that the interviewed veteran was not an active-duty veteran but rather a National Guard member.
Another article -- "Guard soldiers are losing time to Pentagon's broken promise" -- ran on April 22. It made a big story about Guard members losing their time off.
That last article upset me because it was written as if losing days will really affect a member of the National Guard in the same way it would affect an active-duty member of the military.
In the National Guard, you come home when you are done with your deployment, then you go to drill once a month. In active service, whether in the Marines, Navy, Army or Air Force, you do not come home for at least another 30 days, and you still go right back to your duty station after your leave time.
I spent the last five years away from home and would have given anything to spend more than two weeks at a time in Minnesota while I was stationed in both Germany and Fort Carson, Colo.
The use of the National Guard to evoke emotions from Minnesotans would be one thing if the National Guard were the only military entity that existed, but it's not.
I have known many friends from this great state who have served on active duty -- that is, have decided to leave home for a term of service to their country (not the state) for anywhere from three to five years.
When we come home and see these things in the paper, it makes us feel like we are forgotten and do not matter.
We may not stand out because we no longer wear a uniform around town. That doesn't mean we do not exist.
Perhaps the Star Tribune could find some active-duty veterans and ask their opinions and incorporate them in the paper.
Nathan Moldenhauer lives in St. Paul.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.