Are we as a Nation using our Veterans (Vets)
For All They Are Worth?
Letter to the Editor
As I have watched elections and Veteran's days come and go, I have noticed few Veterans are chosen by voters for public office and their recognition is little more than a one hour ceremony once a year on Veteran's Day. This raises a couple of questions for me as a USMC Vet.
First, are we loosing sight as a Nation of the perspective Veterans have on war and life? Are Vet combat experiences considered little more than phantasmagoricaly propelled disorders maneuvered as chess pieces by non-Vet politicians? I read an article recently in the Concord New Hampshire Monitor which noted military past is rare for candidates. It claimed Vets are concerned America is loosing touch with what it really means to send men to die. The writer said "military service was once viewed as a prerequisite for those running for the presidency: 31 of the 42 presidents were veterans. Fewer veterans hold high political office, meaning few politicians who authorize and manage wars have a personal connection to the troops they send into combat. Less than a third of members of Congress served in the military." Furthermore, Mr. Thompson, a presidential candidate who is not a Vet, said in the Chattanooga Times Free Press "a 20-year-old soldier serving in Iraq often has a better understanding of national security than a veteran lawmaker in congress." Vets understand you only go to war when you have to. But when you go, you annihilate your enemy, not rebuild THEIR society so they can attack again. Some Vets have said to me if the US was willing to go into Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have just planted an American Flag in the sand and owned the country and all the oil that goes with it. Of course even Vets disagree with the best policy to use. But at least they know what war is and much of politics is simply a war of values.
Second, are we sacrificing military readiness for political expediency? Our armed forces are having a difficult time attracting recruits in an all-volunteer force. Standards are being lowered to meet goals and troops are being asked to endure fifteen month tours in a combat zone. If we fail to properly honor and use our Vets, more and more of them will ask, was it really worth it? Does anybody really care about what I did? If nobody cares about what I have to offer, why did I serve?" This may be why the suicide rate is up to about 150 per week for Vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. These feelings trickle down and the next generation may just ask, "why defend our way of life at all." This is what the Israelites said to Moses in the desert when they complained about missing the leeks they enjoyed in Egypt while in slavery.
I ask you as a voter, the next time you go into the booth, please remember who served your country. Use them for all they are worth because they were willing to give their life for your freedom. Entrust them with more then just a ceremony once a year.
Mark Albertini, Chattanooga.