Veterans every day

By PHILIP EIL  |  November 6, 2013

 1108_vets_Steiner_top.jpg
"WE [WERE] AMBASSADORS" Steiner.

NAME | Michael Steiner

AGE | 26

THE BASICS | Served on the “supercarrier” USS Nimitz, during six years of active duty in the US Navy between 2005 and 2011; now in the US Navy Reserve

•  Currently studies electrical engineering at CCRI and works as a student veteran advocate with the Student Veterans Organization

HIS WORDS | I looked at [my situation] and I said, “I don’t want to go to college. I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t want to waste my parents’ time or money or my time or money. And I want to have some cool stories. And I don’t want to get shot at. And so how do I do that? I’ll join the Navy.”

At the time, I was just looking at a way to travel. And, it turns out, most of the world is water, which my mom told me. I should have listened to her. At the time, you have to dress appropriately. You can’t have fringe on your jeans, you’ve got to wear a polo top, and it’s a huge pain in the ass. But in retrospect, we [were] ambassadors. We’re good will ambassadors whenever we pull into these ports. Because anywhere you go, they protest us a lot. Pull into Japan, a lot of Japanese people don’t want us there. Pull into Hong Kong, China is right there to the North and we’ve always had this tense relationship with China, obviously. We pull into India — first time a nuclear-powered ship had ever visited India — they protested us, even though they have a nuclear bomb capability.

Just think of it from that other person’s point of view. . . who has never seen an America before. Maybe you’re the first American that they’ve ever seen. And your dress, your appearance, your conduct is an immediate first impression of a superpower. And if you’re hanging out. . . joking and messing with the locals, and hitting on their women or whatever and just being a jackass, they’re going to say, “Wow. American’s are real A-holes.”

I am [proud of those times wearing the uniform]. Just the idea of being that diplomat at that age, it’s pretty cool, honestly.

 

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