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Much is being made recently of the fact of having served in the military of these United States. In fact over the last 10 years you have found those that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan coming home and thanking the prior generations gratuitously for what they did before them. When you see these modern day heroes you can hardly believe that anything prior generations have done can remotely compare to these sacrifices.
The massive loss of life from IED’s or roadside bombs, nasty snipers, terrible sneak attacks and car bombs, members of the foreign military that are supposed to be our partners. Double agents turning on our troops and shooting them down, automobile bombers, hiding behind women and children as they shoot and kill our troops, even members of our own military that turn on their own and shoot or bomb our troops, military sub-contractors and facilities or members of our Consulates or our Allies. The Intelligence organizations of many of our so-called partners in the region; Foreign Countries that are working directly against our interest and in fact run operations to kill or maimed our troops, Many NGO operations that are trying to protect women, children and increase public safety and the water and electrical infrastructure of the country we are fighting in or with become prime targets.
The Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that has become ubiquitous; the Concussion and Brain Damage from just being in the neighborhood of many Roadside Bomb Explosions, the tragic loss of close buddies and associates, the constant Return to Duty Assignments of several Rotations in row to Combat locations all turn up the knob and push the buttons of many troops with various physical and mental ailments that are never treated either ”In Theatre” or when they return home. Those troops lucky enough to have great home lives and extremely supportive family and friends back home are prone to have a better chance to re-connect with society at some point. Many of these troops take 10 to 15 years. Many never recover fully. In World War II and Korea they called it “Shell Shock”! In Korea, many soldiers that were captured by the North Koreans and Chinese suffered from what they called: “Give up Itis”. They curled into a ball and simply refused to eat, drink or go to the bathroom – and simply died. War in those days included lost limbs, brain damage and being maimed for life. Today, modern soldiers get new high tech limbs and even return to duty. Shocking to think of just a few years ago.
As we watched our Seal Team Six take out Osama Bin Laden on television and watched the War Room as our President and his Cabinet strained their eyes to see the results of their efforts – it became very clear that the price of heroism and extremely above and beyond the call of duty activities have consequences. In the Bin Laden operation – an American Helicopter was lost. Luckily, no loss of life. 14 members of this prestigious group however were later shot down in Afghanistan in a helicopter. Each of these great American heroes are and were willing to give their lives to serve their government. When they come home and can be well enought to tell stories to their families and friends, neighbors and community…write a book perhaps…..then it will be Mission Accomplished!
Those that were Drafted by their Country….served at the pleasure of their government for two years. The Draft occured first during the Civil War. If you didn’t want to serve – you could pay to have someone go in your place. Not so in World War I. Not so in World War II, Not so in Korea, Not so in Vietnam until the Lottery System was adopted late during the Vietnam Incursion. After that Soldiers become Volunteers. You actually had to sign up to place your life In Harm’s Way. You got better pay as a Volunteer. You got Health Insurance for yourself and family. You got money to later get your Degree at a College or University.
There is also “a big kicker” when you go into the military: You sign up for a certain length of time; however – at any time the various Branches; Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard can determine in their wisdom you have what is called a: Critical MOS! Military Occupational Speciality. What this means is: If their is a shortage of that MOS….your tour of duty may be extended numerous times before you are released. Imagine being a Bomb Disposal Specialist which right now is considered “A Critical MOS!” These folks are not getting out very soon unless they can get some other crazy to take their place. The Critical MOS issue applied not only to Volunteers but to those that were Drafted as well. Ted Williams the famous Boston Red Sox…..has a Critical MOS as a fighter pilot in Korea. Williams was extended for 14 months. Williams wound up serving in three wars! They kept calling him back.
Today, we read almost daily of Military Suicides, Spousal and Family Abuses, Murders by or on members of the Military that have returned from Theatre, radical behavior patterns, automobile crashes and accidents of all types which are occuring to members of our Military that have retired, been separated or are simply home on leave. We bend our heads like so many puppy dogs to try and understand the various issues in play and attempt to find solutions that make us feel better: More money for PTSD and Concussion-Brain Trauma Studies for example. To put it all into perspective you have to better understand what “being in the military means”: You swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of these United States. You learn a series of various skills to protect yourself in warfare. You are forced to follow the instructions of various Officers and others in positions of power that may put you into a position to lose your life. You have to watch despicable acts of violence by your enemies and your own team of proven professionals. You have to follow rules and regulation which sometimes make no sense at all – including very restrictive: Rules of Engagement and many many more issues from which you have little or no control for the entire time you are in the military service.
In 1968, at the 10th Special Forces Training Facility in Bad Tolz, Germany – we were honored to meet true American Heroes. These dedicated soldiers took 60 mile hikes with 180 pound packs – on their days off. They jumped out of helicopter over trees without a parachute or drop line at heights of 40 feet. They worked out every day with incredible weights and a variety of gymnastic exercises that included matt head spins, rings and horse. They were truly our great American heroes and many were to die in Vietnam and other non-publicized military operations off the board and tables of the press.
Today is Memorial Day. This is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave! When we went to the Army in July of 1967…it was not for LBJ or Robert Strange McNamara. It wasn’t to free the peoples of Vietnam from their evil oppressors in the North or their pals in Red China, Cambodia or Thailand. No, we went to serve our two years In Service to our Country ……for 200 years of American History which allowed a society that cared about each other. The story was not one for all the negativity, of the corruption, of the lies, of the evils of the few. No, it was for the good ones. Our loved ones. The good friends that we met along the way that survived. It was because we cared about our fellow man and woman. Not high minded, just because it was the right thing to do.
As we look forward to the Presidential election of 2012, we see a lot of hate. A lot of inner ferment in our society. We see a lot people who do not want to help their fellow men or women. We see the dark and greedy side of International Bankers. We see companies that want to downsize and ship our jobs out of this country forever. We see many politicians that are only in it for the cash from Special Interests. We see the faults as perhaps we have never seen them before, yet if called – we would go again into the Military to Defend this Country! Why? Because, going into the military of the United States… is the right thing to do!
Have a very memorable… Memorial Day!