Tag Archives: Service member

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!!!