This is such an important conversation to have. I think the first paragraph on unrealistic and stereotypical portrayals of men is spot on. There is such a tendency to make things binary — you’re one or the other. As a combat veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I spent a few years working for a non-profit helping veterans transition from the military. Veterans are often typecast as either heroes who can do no wrong, or victims that can’t be helped. Part of the work we did in the non-profit involved helping veterans see that they didn’t have to be one or the other. All men, veterans included, are complex and emotional beings. And because of this, men have very real needs that need to be addressed. Boys learn from a very young age from other boys and men how they think they are supposed to act. Boys are told by their fathers and coaches and teachers not to cry. Not to show emotion. Boys are made fun of for having a softer side. Fathers, coaches, pastors, teachers — these are the men that need to teach boys what being a real man means. Hollywood and the media and marketing will try to tell boys what being a real man means — and it will be wrong. As men, we need to take it upon ourselves to change the narrative on this. There are a lot of warrior poets out there, and it’s time for them to share their stories, and make their voices heard. Thanks for sharing this piece and helping to get the conversation started.

Dad. Husband. Army vet. Enjoy running, cycling, cooking, and guitar.