Back in the late 60's when I started teaching, I asked a friend who was headed for Vietnam, to come and talk to my Economics class. The military man did a great job, dressed in his Army suit. A college graduate, he was a Lieutenant when he was thrust into the battle. I know he was in the infantry but that is all I know about what he did. He won't talk about it.
At a basketball game, I was excited to see him back and went over and sat down by him. We greeted each other for a bit and then I asked him, "So, do you think you can find time to come into my Econ class and talk to them about your experience?"
"No!' emphatically. "I would probably say the wrong thing." So, ... did he feel like a hero when he came back?
Mortars may not do physical damage, but they certainly rattle brain, and when that happens, ... the soldiers come home as different men and women. Even if they weren't touched, soldiers who were in the fight and lost friends, come home with a huge, huge guilt complex.
"Why did my friends die, and I didn't" It can be a deadly, deadly condition that drives the soldiers toward drugs and thoughts of suicide. "Why did I survive?"
Another friend wanted to be an EMT worker and was working toward his certification, when a call came in about a farm accident. The student went with the driver and the other certified EMT, and what he saw resulted in a mind-changing career.
The farmer had been moving hay around and picked up too large of a load and as the tractor tried to lift the hay, the tractor reared up and fell backward. The farmer was crushed as his guts burst out of the body and filled the tractor tracks surrounding the site. As you most surely would guess, putting the body parts in a body bag and cleaning the area up, the young man was horrified. From then on, the student seemed unable to wash the accident out of his mind and changed his mind as to a career.
Our soldiers will come back, with most of them changed. They look like the same people who left, but, in reality, they are not the same. They will have profoundly changed. Jobs for them will be no easier to find than for anyone else. A one day's hero welcome, quickly begins to ooze back into a different reality.
Glorifying our troops as heroes can have negative affects as they return to their towns, their friends, and parents. The change mestastizes into the very depths of the recesses of the soldiers' brains and reaches their souls. Death and the stink of death is hell. I know what it smells like to lose a child. Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. And, ... a measly $200,000 insurance check or a $1,500 check if you happen to Iraqi, doesn't cut through squashed, cranial matter.