Tag Archives: Service member

American Spirit

I was looking through my social media early one morning and was reminded how special the American spirit is to the world. This is a weekend for reflection to many, and as I reflect, I’m reminded how this spirit survives despite America’s government. The separation is clear.

I see the disconnect in the millions of heartfelt messages from folks about our service members who sacrificed all. Many of these messages are from folks who don’t know the pain of this loss personally, but empathize with those that do. We remember the WW11 widow who went on to make a new life with her scrapbook of memories of a love only dreamt, because no one gets left behind.

I read the anecdotes from a friend in Honduras sad about leaving friends behind to return home. I see photo’s of smiling men laboring to improve learning and living conditions for folks thousands of miles away. I feel the American spirit in their photos.

I see young soldiers with backpacks full of miniature flags walking rows of white headstones placing each one with the care of a loved one. I imagine in his mind the glory he dreamt of how each patriot found his home there.

I read about young folks just starting their journey in life upon graduating from 15 years of security and learning. I’ve watched them over the years clean houses and yards for older folks less fortunate. I’ve watched them build structures to lighten the burden for those less physically fortunate. I see the American spirit.

I see photos of babies. Some in hospitals and some taking the first step in a family video. As I read the comments I feel the pain and joy of folks distant or near as the empathize or celebrate with the parents joy or sorrow.

I’ve read the stories of Europe being attacked and the heartfelt comments from Americans who desperately want to ease the pain of someone they can’t even imagine, or might not have even liked. I see the cover photos superimposed with foreign flags in solidarity with folks they will never know.

I see my neighbors cutting each other’s grass. I see the person at the cash register receive change from the cashier because they were a few cents short. I see the folks on the side of the road laughing and joking as they change a flat tire. I read on yard sake sites of mothers giving away baby clothes that no longer fit to anyone who might need them. Everywhere I look I see the American spirit.

There are folks outside and within our country that would have you believe being American is something evil. They’ll point to political figures. They’ll try and convince you that lies and deceit are the coin of our realm. Hell, they’ll even try to convince you we’re responsible for the Christian crusades if you listen long enough. Some of these accusation are truths and half truths of our government, but they aren’t part of the American spirit.

Take time to really reflect this weekend, folks died for this holiday. They died for you before your parents were born. They died before they had children or families of their own. Don’t feel bad about barbecuing, or swimming, or having too many beers with your friends. This was part of why they put theirselves in harms way.

But…. Remember that when the weekend is over they would expect that you would share some old clothes with someone less fortunate. They would expect that you would help out the neighbor who can’t cut their grass. They would expect you support or travel somewhere far away to help out folks in need. They would expect you share a kind word with someone, on line or face to face with a hug.

Trust me when I tell you they knew about the disconnect with the government. They lived and died with it. They worked within it with hopes to change it. They could spot an idiot a mile away. They also understood we aren’t our government, hence; “We the people in order to form a more perfect union….. Remember all the way back to that revolutionary soldier who passed on for you to grill with a machine he could never imagine.

Remember Freedom and goodwill are alive today for your to carry forward. It’s a legacy left to us. I’m encouraged that every second of every day their sacrifices are living and breathing in our efforts to be a better neighbor around the world.

Open Letter

Open letter:
I’ve never done an open letter before, but I feel a gap in the veteran narrative that’s close to my heart. There’s a group of service members, soldiers in my case, who’ve quietly slipped away beneath the quest of writers, reporters, and business men looking to make a buck trying to turn service members into victims.

I salute those Viet Nam era service members who gave the ultimate for their country. Some joined and some were drafted. I imagine the fought for the person to their left and right, which culminated in a national effort. Our country was a little off kilter then, like now, so many weren’t pleased with the civilian leadership, like now. Regardless, their honor and sacrifice is part of a time honored tradition.

I felt bad for those soldiers coming home to negative publicity and personal attacks. They didn’t deserve that. There was a real national threat, it just didn’t involve any actions by the enemy that folks could foresee, they were just beginning the whole “immediate gratification”thing back then. It’s easy to see how dangerous the world was in light of what we know now about the Cold War.

The folks who slipped through are the ones that didn’t come home. They didn’t die. They saw it through to the end and the lessons they learnt about men, materials, and tactics would stay with them forever. They stayed the course, reenlisted, and began the work of building a professional military.

This is where I came in, 1979. Right before Reagan came into office and these warriors put on their professional hats and used the money and freedom afforded them to train the most feared military in history. This is not an exaggeration, no country would make a move for 30 some years. If they did jump, they were put down with speed, precision, and violence of action, no messing around.

The Viet Nam Era leaders created this military that created years of peace. They spared no feelings or considerations when it cam to training and equipping their soldiers. Most importantly they embedded the “Lead by Example” mentality in generations of service members.

These guys went on to retire and moved into the civilian world quietly and confident that they left things better than they found them. I joined in 79 and retired in 98. I can tell you that it was two different militaries I served in.
My most proudest moment was when our soldiers executed the “100 day war” and again put down aggression with professional speed, precision, and violence of action. I’m proud because I passed those lessons I learnt from the Viet nam Era soldiers onto those soldiers and they performed flawlessly. I was not present at this war. I had retired and was teaching at the time, but I was proud!

If you read this by chance pass it on. There are millions of Viet Nam Era service members out there silently reminiscing in this success. There are millions of relatives that proudly display photos of these leaders in their homes. Let’s not forget them either, they stayed the course and gave us many years of peace through their strength of conviction. For this I am proud to have served under the Viet Nam era soldiers and am eternally grateful for those that humbly served our nation creating decades of peace.

With Respect
A fellow soldier

P.S. Would some leader, historian, or political figure please go back and read over General Powell’s comments on never going into action without an exit strategy. He brought that lesson to light after Mogadishu I believe!!!!

Riding Coattails!!!

I keep up with my alma matter, The US Army, on a couple soldier sites on Facebook. It’s cool to see some of the characteristics and traditions have withstood the test of time. It’s also frustrating to see the impact the culture wars have had on the military. I was blessed to be led by the leadership during my career, mostly Viet Nam Era career soldiers.

When I was a Drill Instructor we had a problem with vendors and DI’s. It might be the pizza guy who got to deliver hundreds of pizza and passed on the bread for using his service. Could have been the t-shirt guy who gave DI’s free hats and sweatshirts for using his services and ordering hundreds of items.

We stopped this while I was a Drill Instructor as part of a push for excellence in integrity. It was not ethical to benefit, other than emotionally, from our trainees money or loyalty. I missed the free outfits and food , but it was the right thing to do and everyone looked down on this practice.

Now I’m a veteran and I see countless, and I mean countless, number of leaders benefitting from veterans, many who don’t even exist. Then I read about how countless leaders within the Dept of the Navy went along with the “snipergate” lies because it was looking good for the unit and the service.

This “22 a day” sound bite going around got me curious. If we’re losing 22 veterans a day we either have a serious recruiting issue or the nature of war had changed to a degree the leadership has seriously failed. Considering the development of systems and tactics something didn’t feel right.

Veterans are a 21st century boon. There are countless folks out there benefitting from the efforts of our veterans. The number of agencies hammering the VA in an effort to privatize veteran services is astounding. These folks make up stories and misuse statistics to justify their efforts to provide services.

This brings me to “22 a day”. The average age of suicides by veterans in one sample is 60yrs old. Which would put them at the end of the Viet Nam era. The study a also divided the sample by deployed and non deployed. The majority of suicides reported were service members who weren’t deployed. I encourage you to google veteran suicide and “22 a day” also. Look at the reliable studies and inform yourself.

Suicides by veterans is an important issue. If the actual truth is that older veterans who were never deployed are the majority of the suicides then our approach and dollars need to be scrutinized so that folks can’t ride the coattails of veterans for personal gain.
Lead the way!!!