Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any and all similarities with persons, organizations, and groups are purely coincidental!
The veteran was cold and hungry, his knees hurt like hell. The bane of all infantrymen arthritis had not chosen to simply walk past. He was a proud man, a hardened warrior, he fought for his brothers who stood beside him and lost them all. The veteran loved his country to bits, but after returning home battered and with mind bruised by the horrors of battle and loss, he found out that not everything was what he'd been taught.
The VA didn't help much, chalk full of greedy and incompetent bureaucrats, it sucked the taxpayer's dollars but did little in return to ease the pain of their sons and daughters who were returning in droves from the distant battlefields.
The veteran was kneeling in the cold, out on the busy street holding a plaque that he and his wife wrote the evening before. He was ashamed that he had to do this. To beg for other people's money was not the way he did things in life but...his child was in need of basic things like baby formula and diapers. The man who ran towards the fire without a second thought was now reduced to a beggar. In his own county that he spilled his blood to defend and his friends died for, he stood outside, lonely and all soaking wet sitting on the pavement...
One young man walked past him holding in his hands a smartphone and coffee cup. He gulped heavily as his parched throat was hurting him since he had nothing to drink in hours:
"Sir, could you spare a dollar?" - he again swallowed his pride and tried asking the passerby for money.
The youth turned around startled and gazed at him and his sign, mouth gaping and hands shaking. The veteran could see now that he wore a red t-shirt saying "Smash the CIS white Patriarchy!" with a hammer and sickle in the middle. Pointing at him with a still shaking hand, the youth's face turned into a mask of hate and disgust while loudly exclaiming:
"But, you are a white male!?" - spat in his face and walked away with an obnoxiously smug smile on his face, sipping from the coffee cup.
The veteran wiped away the spit and sadly sighed - he could easily break that twig of a man's back in two, but he gathered that that future failure in life would die on his own. There was no need for him to sully his hands and moreover, his family, his child needed him. He continued asking, pleading and begging the indifferent passersby for change.
Hours passed, and the cold, freezing wind brought ominous dark clouds full of snow. By then the Veteran had spent more than sixteen hours out in the freezing cold, begging on the street. In his soldier's hat, there was almost twenty dollars worth of change. He picked himself up and with knees hurting started walking towards the distant suburbs where his home was. A three-mile walk awaited him, and as he was striding away in the darkness, the blizzard's strength increased.
The veteran never reached his home that night. In the morning, after the blizzard had passed away, some old woman found his sign sticking from a heap of snow, and then his corpse frozen to death. Before the end he was crawling, hand gripping the small bag of change and stretched out in the direction of his house. It was just half a mile away.
The veteran stood before a group of young kids, at least a thousand strong, assembled at their colony's meeting hall. A sea of smiling faces and gleaming eyes, they all came to meet with him, to see a real veteran, a survivor of the Sirius colony defense.
His beautiful hazel green dress uniform had less and less free space for all of his medals and soon he would be forced to wear ribbons. For this occasion, however, his medals were there, and the young crowd was pointing at them, chatting about one or the other. The Colonial Militia was pretty generous, after all the last time he'd seen action was a few years ago after his discharge.
The pirates who attacked his passenger ship were in for a surprise after he unpacked his Springfield MF railgun and began sniping one after another with deadly accuracy. They, of course, tried really hard to kill him almost shooting his legs to pieces. And as always the Colonial Militia medics fixed him up in just a couple of days. The bill was covered fully by those grateful passengers, who owed their life to his bravery and skill. But even if they didn't, he had plenty of creds saved - people paid well for the protection that the Colonial Militia units provided. Nobody skimped when it came to the defense of their loved ones and property.
The veteran was lost in thought and as one young man stood up he focused his eyes on him. In excellent health, the youth's athletic build couldn't be ignored even with the leather jacket that he wore on top. His eyes were shining with purpose when he spoke:
"Sir, we are all grateful for your service! Can you tell us more about Sirius? From your perspective, it must've been hell on Earth, right!"
The veteran smiled and leaned forward, his hands grabbing the dress uniform's belt and answered back:
"Not at all for me, no! But for the invader, the slaver, and the kidnapper, it WAS hell! And suffered with their very lives they did, for threatening the freedoms and peace of our citizens. The Colonial Militia is formed by you, it is YOU! All of you, who have unrestricted access and ownership of all types of weapons. Standing together, the citizens of our Imperial Minarchy need no overbearing government to tell us what to do. And when our liberties and lives are threatened, we can deal with the aggressor and the invader! There is nothing more peerless than brave men and women standing together shoulder to shoulder, railgun in hand, facing those who intend to do them and their loved ones harm." - he took one long look and pointed at his medals:
"This is the physical form of people's gratitude, and for me, for any professional soldier, it means lives saved! No matter what they bear against us, we, the citizens can always strike back harder. They roll in with their tanks?! We can have our own tanks, bigger and better than theirs! They stomp towards us with towering Mecha?! Our mecha pilots can, and will walk all over the wrecks of theirs, laughing from the cockpits of our Mecha! Spaceships?! We have them too! And if can't build them, our boys and gals from the Star Marine Corps will make sure that their own starships will service us after their murderous crews are all dead!"
The assembly hall roared with cheers and he remembered that all those youths were his to instruct in the art of life. They would, for a short time become flesh of his flesh and blood of his blood.
Just like his six children back on Sirius prime, he would care for all of them and make sure that they knew how to protect their lives and land. The art of life meant that to protect yours and your loved one's lives, one had to end their enemies. Nobody asked the slavers, pirates and other scum to invade, that they did on their own, therefore sealing their destiny...