Today I made a point of meeting up with a vet buddy. I don't know if the distinction will make sense to you but we're not really friends... we're buddies. We are bound by our common experiences in the service of our country.
This guy is a Vietnam era vet. He did in-country time in Vietnam and a career's worth of running all over the globe until his retirement. Like most vets I know, he went were he was needed and he did what needed to be done without regard for his health. Not surprisingly, his health is not the greatest.
In a typical meeting I start the conversation with something from current events and we end up swapping war stories. Eventually the conversation will turn to my buddy's health. My buddy is in his final few years and he knows it. Furthermore, as his physical health slips away his emotional health is also declining and he's aware of that too.
He's not asking for pity, he really just wants a listener. I think my buddy is one of those guys that thinks out loud. He's trying wrap his mind around the fact that he is dying a little bit at a time. The pills that stop the pain cloud his mind so he divides his time between living and existing. He goes out in the morning and socializes until he can't take the pain and then he goes home and takes his pills.
It is not how any vet, any man or woman of action, would imagine their end.