Why are Veterans and First Responders Always So Grumpy?

Why are these people in the line so slow?!?! The light is green go already!!! Why are you moving like you have no sense of purpose!! Hurry up already!!

Have you had that super surge of impatience, maybe even a lesser outburst only to seconds later acknowledge that it was stupid and “I don’t know why I did that”?

Any of that sound familiar? If it does, don’t worry, you’re not alone. First, the bad news, that’s never going to change. The good news? I can at least explain why this happens, so when you feel that surge of emotion rising rather quickly, you can be a bit more aware of it and maybe get ahead of it.

Environmental Nurture.


The human brain retains and ingrains information in two ways: stress, or play.

The majority of the crossover issues from military/first responders to civilian life stems from expectations. If I am on the job, I expect you to cover me, to have my back, to watch over me, to assist me. Failure in these circumstances means death. Death to either me, to you, to a subject, or to a patient. I expect you know your protocols, your duties, and how to assist me if I need it.

This is super important in these types of occupations. The lack of this type of development could very well cost you, your co-worker, or subject’s life. The only issue is that when this high level of importance is placed on these expectations, they become operantly conditioned. I expect you to act/react/respond/behave in a certain way and if you don’t then you are putting both yours and my survival at stake.

At least that’s what the brain will tell you. It doesn’t differentiate between showing up to an emergency call or why the fuck didn’t you take out the garbage and now I have to do it.

Can We Change The Behavior?


It sucks. But with some practice it’s easier to mitigate. This is where the phrase “stop, take a breath, and then proceed” comes into play. You feel that emotional surge. Stop. Breathe in.  Is it worth getting excited or angry about? Will your world end? Will it grossly affect the rest of your day? If the answer is “no”, then by now the feeling should have passed.

For now, this is all you get. Baby steps. Anything worth having is anything worth working for. You stepped up to help. There are many reasons for this. It could be for yourself, because you like helping people. It could be to better equip yourself to protect yourself and your family. You may want to help oppressed people in a different country.   Don’t let the reason you stepped up be the reason that stopped you from enjoying opportunities afforded to you. Like waiting in line and being okay with it, because no one is trying to mug, rob or extort you for that food in your hand at the grocery store. Or you won’t be penalized, fined, or ridiculed for being a minute or two late for an appointment.

Another factor is perception of human life. In North America in general, the value of a human life is seen as high. In other countries, and criminal elements it is not. It’s seen as more of a resource, or opportunity, to make some dirtbag’s life easier. Dealing with these types of people up close for the first few times can be quite disturbing. They have cold, reptilian-like qualities about them. It makes you uneasy. The problem is, if you interfere with their goals you are simply a stumbling block. First responders/military deal with these types on a daily basis. They’re here in our backyard too. Everywhere.

For Those That Put Up With Us


If you are with a first responder/military person, please understand: we want you to be safe. Our creed is to lay down our life for you, our children, people we may not know and their children. We do this because we stand up to bad, horrible, evil people. It takes a toll on us. Sometimes we don’t realize how, or why. Please be patient with us. We mean well, but our brains are conditioned to a more hypersensitive world that isn’t known to you, and we do our best to keep it from you. It means a lot if you can’t take out the garbage that you at least tell us before we get home you couldn’t do it because you were rushed for time, or had something come up and forgot about it. That gives us another opportunity to improve our tactical plan like a good member of the team that sees the situation change.

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