Veteran linebacker Mike Thomas, a former NFL player who has post-traumatic stress disorder, says his goal is to be a “part of this movement” that he calls “not the typical guy who isn’t a part.”
Thomas, who is part of a group that will hold a march on Washington next week to demand an end to the use of the term “combat” in the military, said he believes the term has been misused.
“I think people are looking at me, like, ‘Oh, he was a combat veteran,'” Thomas told CBS News.
“And I think they don’t realize that he’s a veteran.
I think people should be more aware of that.
I’m not the type to sit around and just think ‘Oh I don’t have PTSD.'”
Thomas says he has PTSD from combat in Vietnam, and he’s been working toward overcoming it since he was 14.
He also suffers from a neurological condition called dystonia, which he says causes him to be hyper-vigilant and hyper-focused on his surroundings.
“My brain is wired to make sure I’m in that place and that’s the only way I know how to function,” Thomas said.
“You have to do that because the brain doesn’t know when you’re asleep or when you’ve got something that’s in front of you.”
Thomas is a member of the United States Military Veterans of America, a group dedicated to supporting military veterans.
Thomas said he is planning to hold the march on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to demand the U.S. Department of Defense and the Pentagon rescind the use and definition of “combat.”
He said he will not be participating in the march, though he will still be protesting.
“For me, I don`t care what color you are or where you come from, you have to come out there, do it,” Thomas told the station.
“The goal is the same.”
The Department of the Army said it does not comment on individual service members or the military.
The military does have a code of conduct that includes “respect for others,” but Thomas said he was not comfortable with that.
“It’s not about the code.
It’s about respecting the flag,” Thomas added.
“It’s about showing respect for the military.”