A female doctor in North Carolina found an angry note on her car after parking in a space reserved for veterans. The note told her the lot was reserved for veterans and that she should learn to read and have some respect.
Most of us do want to show respect to veterans. The problem is that the doctor is a veteran. In fact, she is an 8 year Navy veteran. Apparently, because she was a woman, the person who wrote the note assumed that she was not.
This story shows some of our inherent biases. There are riddles that take advantage of these biases. One of the ones that I remember is the riddle that talks about a father and son who are injured in a car accident and taken to separate hospitals. When the son goes in for an operation, the doctor says, “I can operate on him because he is my son”.
The answer to the riddle seems easy. The doctor is the son’s mother. The riddle took advantage of the assumption at the time that doctors were usually men.
While we may have made progress with overcoming some of our biases, the fact that the doctor in North Carolina received the note on her windshield shows that we still have biases to overcome. When we think of our nation’s veterans, who do we picture? Are they all male? What race are they? Do we picture soldiers from World War II, Korea, or Vietnam? Do we picture the men and women who serve our country today?
Our nation’s veterans are diverse. They include people of all ages, genders, races, and sexual orientations. We see this in our law firm everyday as we assist veterans with VA disability benefits.
Most of us want to recognize our nation’s veterans and thank them for their service. To truly thank all the men and women who have served our country, we need to work to overcome our biases. If we are thanking veterans for serving our country, it is not just a certain gender or race of veterans that we want to thank. We should thank them all.