Understanding Who They Are

By Lieutenant Colonel David "Chip" Berke

Lieutenant Colonel David Chip Berke is a 22-year veteran of the Marine Corps. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has accumulated over 2800 flight hours in the F/A-18, F-16, F-22, and F-35. The views expressed in this interview are his own, and not necessarily those of the United States Marine Corps.

In American culture, Veteran is a powerful word, and for better or worse, it is used universally. The Department of Veterans Affairs is a common topic for Congress, the news, and Facebook. Veterans Day features sales, promotions, and free donuts. We are highlighted at sporting events, during the State of the Union, and our issues are widely discussed on media from 60 Minutes to the local paper.  And yes, we even get a day off from work every 11th of November. Sometimes we are, erroneously, called troops and soldiers. Many communities and businesses “support our troops.” Time Magazine once named the American Soldier (and unintentionally offended sailors, airmen, and Marines in the process) the “person of the year”.

Rarely though, do I hear discussion about the meaning of the word Veteran or the origin of the holiday. I don’t think many folks connect it to the “great war” anymore, or even to the many conflicts fought since then. My impression is that it is simply linked to service members without much contemplation of the significance. This is not a criticism, and I don’t expect nor desire special dispensation for my status. I am, after all, a Veteran by choice. I feel appreciated and get a strong sense that the citizens of this nation are grateful for those of us who serve.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles

Xi’s Awful Arithmetic

CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT VIEW — Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence […] More

NATO Imagines Future Warfare

Innovation is a key component of readiness when it comes to future threats. NATO’s Innovation Hub recently commissioned a short story from author August Cole, […] More