A veteran reflects on the American military

Nearing 72 years from the attack on America at Pearl Harbor brings to mind a host of memories of those times. First and foremost was the memory of sitting in church the Sunday of December 7th, 1941 and our Pastor announcing news of the attack. Following church of being glued to the radio, listening to the news and President Roosevelt’s speech to the nation declaring the beginning of World War II. One of the most impressive memories of that beginning is of lines of American men standing outside recruiting offices all over America waiting to enlist (voluntarily) to defend America and our democracy.

 

Then came 3 1/2 years of memories of World War II and our military men fighting and dying in defense of us as they fought through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, and at the same time islands in the Pacific, Guam, Bataan, Okinawa, Corrigedor, Midway, etc. and finally Japan. The days were filled with stories of heroism, struggle and achievement by our military forces and by unified sacrifice and effort at home by the American people.

Fast forward to August 19, 2013 we have supposedly ended a 20-year war in Iraq, moving to end our 10-year war in Afghanistan and still debating whether we won anything in Iraq, whether we will win more than we lose in Afghanistan, fighting in Yemen, Pakistan, supporting the murder of Egyptian people by Egyptian police and military and providing arms to Syria rebels.

Having read Greg Skinner’s informative and stimulating piece on the dedication of the memorial in Nikiski (Aug. 19) suggests to me that our veterans deserve every bit of support and appreciation we can give them. Yet my understanding is that many veterans are not getting a timely response to their claims by the Veterans Administration. My impression is the VA is several years behind in doing their job. About 4 years ago I filed a claim with Tri Care and my U.S. Senator for about 700 dollars for a legitimate expense. I never received a response from Tri Care or my Senator.

Having reflected on these memories I agree with Captain Ben Carpenter’s report that over the last 40 years we have moved to an all volunteer military force and life in small towns does go on. Americans do get smarter and less willing to volunteer themselves or their support for war when they want peace and are fed up with the lies and incompetence of our leaders that got us into Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

For the record I drank the Kool Aid once during my senior year in college, fall 1952. I admired President Harry S. Truman, gave up my college deferment, went to our draft board and volunteered for the U.S. Army. I was inducted in February, 1953, under the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whom I also respected. After 4 months of basic Infantry training, 2 months of leadership training and I was on my way to Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning when the Korean war ended July 27,1953. I resigned from OCS and took an early out to return to school, after serving the last 17 months with the Third Army at Fort Benning. Six years later I was honorably discharged from the inactive reserve after serving my 8 year active and inactive responsibilities.

Bottom line, I do not agree that our current military force is greater than America’s military force of World War II. America was behind and engaged with the military in a way we have not seen or experienced since. This country was united in a way that gave us the mightiest military and it included regular Army (enlisted) and U.S. Army (draftees). Today we are divided like nothing I have ever seen, including our government which seems almost totally dysfunctional. I believe our hope lies in the young people of the 99 percent taking more charge of our country and moving toward the development of a peaceful world.

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