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Jungle Boots
I hung these up many years ago, but I am still a soldier at heart.
I served in the U.S. Army for four years. I went in as a young, innocent, naïve high school kid seeking the glory I had seen sensationalized by Hollywood. I came out four years later as an Air Assault qualified, 12B10, combat engineer, and held the rank of E-4/corporal(P). Thankfully, I saw no combat during my time in the Army.

I could build a Bailey bridge, lay a minefield, put up triple strand concertina, make an abatis, disarm IEDs (we called them booby traps), drive an armored personnel carrier, operate a D-Handled Dozer (i.e. a shovel), and I knew how to fire and maneuver. Those four years that I served had an outsized impact on my life and forever changed the person I was. My veteran’s benefits paid for me to go to school and attain my Master’s degree. Something I never would have been able to achieve without the discipline I learned in the military.

Today, as was the case when I served, if you were junior enlisted and had a family you likely live off post as post housing was filled with higher ranking troops. Which meant that as junior enlisted you live in a crappy trailer park and to make ends meet you are likely receiving food stamps.

When I got out of the Army I quickly found out that I had no marketable skills. There just is not a lot of call for a guy who can lay out a minefield of M16A1 bounding mines in civilian market. The same is true for troops getting out today who served in combat arms.

When someone finds out I am a veteran they often thank me for my service which always makes me feel uncomfortable. I doubt that is something that will ever change for me. I am proud of my service to my country; however, I do not need to be thanked for it. I also hear a lot of talk about supporting the troops and I find a lot of that is just talk.

More on "supporting the troops" below the fold.

One of the things I often hear about soldiers currently serving is, "Well, they volunteered," or "they can always get out and do something else with the skills they learned while serving." My answer to that is you are dead wrong. When I joined the Army I signed up for four years of active duty service. If your pay and housing allowance does not cut it for you and your family you cannot just quit and go to a higher paying job. Military occupations also do not transfer over to the civilian world very well—sure, if you were a welder or mechanic you should be okay in the civilian world; however, if you were in combat arms your options in the civilian world are few and far between. In my case the only college credits I received for four years of military service were for physical training—I did not have to take a gym class in college.

With our troops needing food stamps to make ends meet, and with commissaries being on the chopping block, we as a nation need to re-evaluate what is important to us. Should our troops need to rely on food stamps? Or do we purchase the F-35 at $172.7 million per plane?

When I was in the service I was lucky enough to spend a month training with the Canadian Army. At the time their troops were the highest paid army in the world and it showed. They were a highly professional force who had no qualms making a career out of the military. Today, Canada still tops the list when it comes to highest paid forces. There is no reason we cannot pay our troops enough money so that a soldier does not need to rely on food stamps to feed their families.

In 2005 our military spent $16,000 to recruit one soldier. If we can spend that much money recruiting a soldier then why can't we spend some additional money preparing our troops for life in the civilian world? When I got out the VA man came into our ETS briefing and called us fools for getting out of the service. That was all we got. I had no idea how to write a resume, or how to apply for GI Bill benefits I had earned.

We need to pay our troops more, and we need to take better care of our veterans. We need to do more than say "Thank you for your service," or "I support the troops," or call our soldiers and veterans heroes. This isn't rocket science. Cut some of the unnecessary weapons programs—use that money to ensure that our troops are the highest paid, most professional force in the world.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 08:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America and IGTNT Advisory Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well.... (162+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    METAL TREK, Hammerhand, palantir, rudewarrior, patbahn, on the cusp, peregrine kate, Dirtandiron, bbctooman, a2nite, David54, thomask, DaveinBremerton, twcollier, SpamNunn, This old man, The Marti, KJG52, fixxit, Mother Mags, ekyprogressive, owlbear1, Bluerall, PeterHug, Shotput8, deha, Unitary Moonbat, JVolvo, NYWheeler, jfdunphy, Joy of Fishes, TracieLynn, Flying Goat, Aunt Pat, a gilas girl, sawgrass727, leonard145b, cany, StrayCat, Wolf10, skepticalcitizen, brooklynbadboy, occupystephanie, Whatithink, justintime, jasan, kathny, commonmass, winkk, terrybuck, AJayne, llbear, bearsguy, fcvaguy, political mutt, Blue Bell Bookworm, OhioNatureMom, whaddaya, paradise50, Wildthumb, MadGeorgiaDem, CroneWit, CorinaR, FloridaSNMOM, blue91, belinda ridgewood, DSC on the Plateau, Sixty Something, Chinton, nzanne, Buckeye54, mjbleo, mkor7, kurious, Elizaveta, UTLiberal, rlharry, cpresley, snoopydawg, ladybug53, Dave in Northridge, Robynhood too, tommymet, Mr Robert, JaxDem, DaNang65, Dartagnan, stone clearing, TexMex, RandomNonviolence, Kombema, Aquarius40, lurkyloo, Larsstephens, mwjeepster, geez53, Free Jazz at High Noon, NearlyNormal, rebel ga, asterlil, Blue Bronc, allergywoman, Aaa T Tudeattack, ruleoflaw, ceebee7, Laurel in CA, rocksout, science nerd, janmtairy, Yo Bubba, Elizabeth 44, Ishmaelbychoice, Broken, Santa Susanna Kid, Cat Servant, thanatokephaloides, smrichmond, Piren, Sandy on Signal, Sylv, DJ Rix, Prospect Park, dewtx, flavor411, GleninCA, cspivey, OooSillyMe, drdarkeny, Dr Swig Mcjigger, amfh, Lashe, SherrieLudwig, radical simplicity, 1toughlady, kitty60, Paulmichael, amoginesq, chrisculpepper, tkirkland, BLUE Skies in Red Hell, The Nose, Cassandra Waites, ImABlondOK, Deeliberate, thewhitelist, humanmancalvin, nyhcmaven84, twocrows1023, CaffeineInduced, reasonshouldrule, wayneonly, MsColleen, skyounkin, Terry S, wescher, SilentBrook, Oh Mary Oh, ChariD, raspberryberet, kirnerpilstime, acornweb, Gary Owen

    you sound a great deal like my husband.. He said when he got out hit man was about all he qualified for.  He was pretty messed up.. too messed up to finish college.
    I wonder as you do.. why not better care for the troop or vet.  I have no answers.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 08:44:54 AM PDT

      •  He took his guitar and ran away (38+ / 0-)

        and bar bouncer.. you are right....Couldn't depend on him to show up at regular hours...Lost track of time, days and nights.. the one thing you can count on consistently with ptsd inconsistency.

        We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:00:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  he needed treatment or time (3+ / 0-)

          to get his head straight

          and not every vet ever gets straight.

          Some 10% of all vets are permanently disabled
          from nueral disease,  Something burns out or they
          freak out.

          Wether it was shell-shock, Battle Fatigue, PTSD,
          Nuerasthenia,  they just never are right.

          Some can't fit into society, they kill too much
          and they are as he said best suited to be Hitmen,
          or mercenaries, or safari tour guides, but,

          yeah after every big war some of these vets become
          killers, some hit the road to become hobo's, some find their beach.

          they do well with VR treatment i hear.

          •  One slight problem, patbahn (13+ / 0-)

            Shell-shock, Battle Fatigue, PTSD and Neurasthenia were all the same thing. PTSD.
            PTSD is best resolved when treated promptly, the sooner treatment is begun, the better the outcome and shorter the course of treatment required. The longer the delay to treatment, the longer treatment is required and in some cases, with extensive delays, recovery may be problematic.

            Today, we still have rather shoddy coverage of veterans suffering from PTSD, where some will receive the best of care and others are ignored, many to end up eventually in our penal system.

            But, one thing I learned in my near 28 years of military service to this nation: We were and are disposable to our nation.
            For, if we weren't, we'd have had survivable pay, would have retained the old GI bill or better and would never face cuts in the VA budget.

            •  i wasn't grossly distinguishing the names (0+ / 0-)

              for PTSD.  A case of shell Shock by any other name would still suck.

            •  I wonder why all vets returning from active (5+ / 0-)

              deployment aren't automatically assumed to be likely to be suffering at least some level of PTSD. I know it hasn't been long that the military has even admitted that PTSD is real, but now that they do, wouldn't it make sense to screen every vet who's been in a combat zone? They get screened for diseases they may have been exposed to, so why not the condition that is so obviously a serious issue?

              •  Me too, [new], (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lonesome Jeff

                Upon returning all people should be in some form of active observation. It really does need to be that cut and dried.

              •  Why not screened... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                belinda ridgewood

                First I have to say that when you are active duty, if you have even a minuet idea of something being wrong mentally you hide it as deep as you can and under as big a boulder or lock as you can produce in your head.
                Why? Because of the stigma that comes with being seen by a shrink of any kind while you are on active duty.  I mean if you have any amount of time left and you want to get promoted, well go see a shrink and see how long it takes to get promoted.
                So they are a lot of reasons why we hide it and hold on while we are still on active duty.

                And then by the time we get out, we have buried it so far and told so many other "excuses" for the anger, the drinking, fighting, whatever ... That sometimes we are not even sure of the real reasons ourselves.
                But the nightmares, tremors, sweats, irritability, and everything else that goes with it come along and punch you in the gut so hard, so hard.

                Anyway, what I am trying to say is that it isn't something you can take a blood test or physical exam for and be diagnosed with PTSD.
                Sometimes it doesn't show up for years and then the Vet, especially if he is an older Vet (meaning not an Iraq or Afgan Vet) he gets screwed by the VA because once he is diagnosed with it, if he wants any compensation then HE HAS TO PROVE that he was involved with some activity while on Active Duty that caused the PTSD! Meaning he has to try and find guys he served with 30 or more years ago that you have never stayed in touch with to try and find someone that will remember what the Vet is remembering the same way and write a statement about it, oh and you get 12 months to do it in.

                So it's not just Congress that is F&^%!@g the older Vets, but it is also being done by the V.A. to boot.  Don't get me wrong everyone that serves deserves their Veteran Benefits but it sure does seem that some of us older Vets have been completely pushed off the stove, instead of just to the back burner.

                Well, I have rambled long enough, so THANKS to ALL that have Served, and THANKS EVEN MORE to all the Family members and Sweethearts that waited and continue to stand by us all!

                •  BTDT-Sam made me give back or pay for the T-shirt (0+ / 0-)

                  Do you have any idea how BAD it makes you feel to be told you're UNFIT, and UNQUALIFIED, for some really crappy civilian job, after having been held responsible for literally tens of millions of dollars of hardware and equipment - for which every CENT was accounted?  After having led others to accomplish incredibly intricate and difficult tasks, in horrible conditions and under insane constraints for time and materiel?

                  To be able to lay that minefield, set up perimeters, keep a close watch, integrate intelligence into a plan to defend a piece of ground against vastly superior forces.  To deal with having YOUR people chopped to hamburger around you in the course of defending that useless piece of ground, having guts and blood and pieces of YOUR KIDS on your hands, splattered on your face?  And STILL managing to WIN and to take the fight to the enemy, routing them totally despite having taken heavy losses and being out-numbered to begin with.

                  "Military experience."  What part of being able to put a bullet in someone's head at 800 meters is a 'job skill?'

                  And then you get out, and go home, and then you get told the really sick joke:

                  "Oh, that was MILITARY training.  Military experience.  That doesn't TRANSFER to the civilian world."

                  You have to start AT THE BOTTOM AGAIN.  You have to be a Freshman again, none of the military credits count.  You're not the supervisor any more, you're the trainee.  ("We do it differently in the civilian world" - generally means "slip-shod" "lazy" "inefficient" and "as slowly as possible.")

                  You spend years first LEARNING, then DOING the job, and later BEING THE BOSS of the job.  And we're talking some job for which there IS a civilian equivalent here.

                  And you get what?  Respect for being a professional?  Satisfaction from doing a tough job well?  Commensurate pay for it, in the civilian sector?

                  Not this week.

                  If you get anything at all and you're NOT one of the ones qualified only to sit in the clock tower and rack up a body count at long range?  What you get is the bottom of the heap.  The 'entry level' position, if you're lucky.

                  You get the denigration of the never-served for being task-oriented, for expecting the others around you to do all that is necessary to succeed.  You're laughed at for being "too gung-ho."  If you keep on doing the best you can in spite of all the nastiness that happens to you, you get up to fail, because "you're working too hard and making the rest of us look bad."

                  But most ex-GI's are saved that humiliation.  Usually there ISN'T a job to be had.  And then you're out on Civvy Street, no job, no support systems, nothing, after having been among other professionals, and having had pride in who you were and what you could do.

                  Since there really ARE no programs to help Vets get started back up once they're out, what you mostly get is the VA.

                  And the VA you find is under-funded by a huge factor, over-whelmed with eligible ex-military people like yourself or in even worse shape, truly in need of help, for which the VA folks aren't able to do anything.  Because there just isn't enough money in the pot, thank you Congress.  "We Support Our Troops."  "The last full measure of devotion."

                  AN ASIDE:

                  The people who work at the VA are generally speaking extremely nice folks.  The majority, anyway.

                  The minority, however, are there also and they're incredibly incompetent and foul, and they are having a BLAST saying "NO!" to Veterans.

                  It's either one extreme or the other at the VA clinic or hospital.

                  They are either there to do their very best every day, despite being barely-paid, over-worked, and having to make-do with less and less every year - while having to face more and more people they aren't funded to help.

                  This is the majority of the doctors and nurses, the front-line, rubber, meet road, kind of VA staffers.

                  Or they are the other sort, the rejects who are so bad at the job that they can't find work anywhere ELSE, and are lucky to have the pittance they get for the job; and who go out of their way to make as miserable as possible all of the GI's trying to use the VA system.

                  They are the pencil-pushers, the 'regulation Charlies" who delight in finding some way to deny someone a procedure or medicine they desperately need.

                  Thanks from me for the first sort: they who are "doing the impossible for the quite grateful; who have done so much with so little for so long that they are now qualified to do absolutely anything, using nothing at all."

                  For the other sort, I won't say anything.  Nothing is bad enough for that kind of villainy.

                  OK, back to the main diatribe:

                  Whichever sort of VA people you're dealing with, and however they phrase the denial, after they tell you that you're screwed and out of luck, you still always get a nice, "Thank you for your service."

                  Yep.  My 'service.'  Right.  And twice on Sundays.

                  By the Giant Yam-Sack of Sargon, I HATE hearing that phrase.  It's as bad as the ubiquitous, "Have a nice day."  And just as meaningless, but it hurts more.

                  If you take that nice 'thank you for getting blood on your hands,' put it together with the little "support the troops" ribbon-shaped magnet on the back of your H2 Hummer (2 gallons to the mile and the "McCain/Palin" sticker is faded but still visible on the bumper), and two bucks, you can get a cup of bad coffee at the convenience mart down the block.  

                  Maybe, if the price hasn't gone up again.

                  But don't forget the two bucks.

                  Brother, can you spare a dime?

                  (For those who've seen the elephant, best regards, and keep your powder dry.  Absent companions.)

                  •  VA and PTSD (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Unfortunately, the VA is still about 20 years behind conventional wisdom with regards to PTSD. You don't have to have seen battle to have it. To many female and male service members are returning from overseas or experiencing Military Sexual Trauma state-side which experts say leads to PTSD more redily than battle. Mainly because you are being raped by the very "brothers in arms" that are supposed to have your back. The ultimate betrayal, which is also felt during incest attacks.

                    In my case, it was not during war time, but peace that I was drugged, raped and became pregnant by my supervisor and co-workers, during the 80s. The child was given up for adoption at birth. I have been fighting the VA for PTSD for years and have been getting absolutely nowhere.

                    I know a soldier that was in Afghanistan that had PTSD due to MST and battle (IED blew up her convoy) and I can't imagine what she is going through. She's also fighting the VA for compensation.

                •  And thanks for your first comment, DreadedNight. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  We're very glad to hear your perspective. What a lot of "can't win" situations we set up for vets.

                  Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

                  Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

                  by belinda ridgewood on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 10:30:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My Sour Grapes (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MaryAskew, Vericima

                  By now, everyone knows how Viet Nam vets were 'welcomed home'.  And now, to have some youngster who seems unaware of the world around them, who has not an ounce of an idea what it means to have 'served their nation', who has friends from school and next door or siblings who have been through the trauma - to hear them say, "Thank you for serving ..." is meaningless.  Even less than meaningless, it feels as if it's a societal necessity - an essential method to ease one's conscience for being completely detached - a tip of the hat to the beggar on the corner - a wave of the hand to the 'one less fortunate than I' - so they can just go about their merry way of self-indulgence.

                  Sour grapes?  Yes!  Why?  Woefully inadequate compensation for what I had taken from me - at the time of my 'service' and afterwards, for never being able to catch up.  For what has turned out to be [for me] the denial of a promise of 'benefits'.

                  And it's so much worse today.  Rich men, mostly, with absolutely NO interest or an ounce of concern for ANYONE but the wealthiest within our borders - strut around with their stupid flag pins, bullying anyone who fails to stick on on their lapel, blustering about patriotism, values, ad nauseum - show very clearly what god it is they worship by denying benefits of every kind to every person [except the wealthy] because they're just 'too expensive.'

                  Yes, we are expendable.  And if I had a chance, I would gladly have their credit ruined, their cards cancelled, and their gravy train cut off - see them struggle and NOT be bailed out by a rich uncle.

                  Yes, I have sour grapes.

                  But, I live my life without them guiding my thoughts or deeds.  I have purged the bile - but the memories are still vivid.

                  "The French have no word for entrepreneur!" G. W. Bush

                  by bbuudd on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 07:35:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Because that (0+ / 0-)

                would be recognizing on a political level that war creates permanent human damage to the victors.
                That alone is too much for republi-can'ts to acknowledge.

        •  The army trains you for fun travel and adventure (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1toughlady, pachamama3

          In addition to hitman, barbouncer, and survivalist, there are many perfectly ordinary professions where basic training in skills of a culinary nature such as expertise in washing dishes, or of an entrepreneurial nature such as polishing shoes, or cleaning facilities, and taking people on nature walks in jungles or deserts; mountains; or forests with many interesting flora and fauna collectively are skills that might make a person employable.

          Your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) may open doors to communications, transportation, cartographic drafting, even teaching. To this day I remember many of my military courses of instruction with if not fondness at least some respect for the instructor.

          For people whose training continued past Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) skills as an MP might qualify you to direct traffic and skills as a supply sergeant might get you a job in a warehouse or big box store.

          The military trains people who are in specialized branches such as its Air Force to fly and service planes and helicopters, or in the Engineers to operate and service construction equipment, or in in the  Navy how to launch and haul out watercraft and to maintain and repair them.

          There are many specialized clerical functions that prepare you for an office job and lets not forget VA healthcare.

          I really can't think of a profession where the military work ethic wouldn't be a plus... no seriously.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:40:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Shines At Midnight In The Arctic (0+ / 0-)

            It's still midnight.

            I really can't think of a profession where the military work ethic wouldn't be a plus... no seriously.
            This ancient Vietnam veteran thanks you for your kindliness but not so much for your thinking.

            It was better then to say you had been in jail than in Vietnam. Convicts could even be innocent but Vietnam veterans never were even if they were drafted.

            I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
            The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
            The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
            I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
            O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
            But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
            The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
            O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

            I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
            They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
            They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
            But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
            For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
            But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
            The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
            O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.


            Thanks again for your good thoughts.  

            Please don't thank me for once being a young fool.

            Best,  Terry

    •  Taking actual care (22+ / 0-)

      of our troops and vets is another one of those issues that I'm guessing at least 75% of us think is a good idea, but isn't getting done.  At some point, surely to God, we the people will realize that, on the important issues, most of us agree what needs to be done, and the sheer pressure of our numbers will force TPTB to move in the right direction.

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

      by TracieLynn on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:35:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very few are paying attention. (8+ / 0-)

        That is why nothing gets done. Many vets who are directly affected by Republican votes AGAINST vets' benefits, will continue to blindly vote Republican.

        Those (presumably non-vets) who thank vets for their service, or put those yellow stickers on their cars, make me uncomfortable. Because I think saying thanks or buying stickers makes us feel virtuous, but does NOTHING to actually help the vets.

        We all need to communicate our feelings to our congressional reps, and WATCH how they vote.

      •  It makes me SO sad... (0+ / 0-)

        to think that the men and women that were sent to fight for this, "ATROCITY OF bush", are getting screwed to the point of begging to be acknowledged and yet this country continues to be, "head high into the ass's of the likes of limpdog". It makes me wonder...where are we headed??? Much like the Viet Nam, Korean and any and all Middle Eastern wars,OUR troops are the TRUE fighters of Democracy! I'm an avid supporter of our men and women in uniform and am, hopefully smart enough to know when you are being USED and abused and can only hope to god that you are aware of the same abuse. I will continue, to my dying day to support our people in uniform because without them we are HELPLESS and I will continue, to my dying day, to APPRECIATE them! THANK YOU ALL!!!

    •  supporting our troops... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and you, is paramount to what we are about. You were sent into an  ATROCIOUS"  and highly "MISLED war" that you were convinced that we HAD to fight to "save our nation". It's not YOU that we blame. It's not YOU that are at fault. It is indeed, the incompetent and primitive ASSHOLES that voted for bush, and in turn voted for the dastardly Koch, "Cook" Bros., and their puppets that sent you there. WE on this site, more than support you and ALL of  OUR troops, we want NOTHING but to support you in any way that we can. I won't name who I've supported or who my dollars are going to, but you can better believe that I'm behind you 110%! Don't give up hope...WE are here for you...

      •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Terry S

        Clearly Cheney and his puppet are to blame for Iraq, no doubt about it. But then what, is the SecDef to blame too? I think so. The next layer, the Joint Chiefs, yeah, I blame them too.

        What about the next layer, and the next, and the next? Where do you reach the point where nobody is to blame? The UCMJ, as I understand it, prohibits everyone in the military from violating the Constitution and so forth. Clearly many did, in my view most did. Consider Abu Ghraib or the video of troops killing innocents (which resulted in the military punishing the messenger rather than the perpetrators.)

        The military stresses doing what is ordered - rather than doing what is right. But just because the military training emphasizes order over honor doesn't make it so.

        Bottom line, nobody, not even the lowest soldier, can be excused from morality. Chain of command does not trump right and wrong. Not at the top of the chain, not at the bottom either.

        The problem with history is that something happened the day before.

        by Theoleman on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:10:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Passing judgement? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Theoleman, you are not alone. Too many people seem to believe that extremely rare but sensational troop misconduct is widespread. That is emphatically not the case.

          Too many people seem to think that one signs up for a specific war or job type. Some conscripts get some degree of choice as to job type in advance of signing up, but there is where the choices end. Your defense forces serve at the whim of "superiors" who in turn serve at the whim of government. Troops go where they are sent and do what they are ordered to do. In these things they are blameless, and these duty's do not reveal their opinions. The soldier that served in Iraq could just as easily have served in Alaska. It is all up to someone else and that ensures someone will always be there to protect you and yours.

          I will never accept condemnation for serving my country honorably because someone didn't, or later on decided they didn't like, the action I was ordered to undertake. Be thankful we were there at all.

          Gerrymandering is like tournament fishing: even though the fish are there, your bait still has to work better than the other guy's.

          by Evan Stevens on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:39:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "Tommy"---Rudyard Kipling (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DreadedNight, dconrad

      And it is a crime that this poem is still relevant.

      I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
      The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
      The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
      I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
          O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
          But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
          The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
          O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

      I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
      They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
      They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
      But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
          For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
          But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
          The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
          O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

      Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
      Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
      An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
      Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
          Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
          But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
          The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
          O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

      We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
      But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
      An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
      Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
          While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
          But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
          There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
          O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

      You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
      We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
      Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
      The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
          For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
          But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
          An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
          An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

      •  Even better and much shorter is Seigfreid Sasson"s (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MaryAskew, dconrad

                          "Suicide in the trenches"

        I knew a simple soldier boy
        Who grinned at life in empty joy,
        Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
        And whistled early with the lark.
        In winter trenches cowed and glum,
        With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
        He put a bullet through his brain,
        No one heard of him again.

        You smug-faced crowd with kindling eye
        Who cheer as soldier lads march by,
        Sneak home and pray you'll never know
        The hell where youth and laughter go.

    •  My son left home a highly paid EMT (0+ / 0-)

      and came home with a TBI but was never referred to a neurologist. Within 18 months he had gone blind, now he struggles with speech, memory, coordination, etc.

      The grimmest, most harrowing and frightening 18 months of my life were spent cajoling, sucking up, fawning, chumming, kissing ass and doing things I would have condemned before. My Japanese daughter-in-law lost all respect for our government. I only hope not for me as well.

      I got my son financial security, money most vets have never heard of so that he is completely solvent, his family are in no danger financially.

      And before you start with the criticism, it's the game you've got to play and wounded vets are seldom able to do it for themselves. Of all things, I wish I could help other vets, but I'm not allowed. Which kinda makes me smile.

      Life ain't like a box of chocolates. You pretty much do know what you're gonna get.

      by Nodin on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:34:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  give each soldier 1/10000th of an F-35 price? (40+ / 0-)

    scrap the plane (which nobody in service actually wants, after all ) and put the money towards veterans services....  a good idea, and possibly some stimulus effect. And it would annoy some politicians!

  •  I hear you (37+ / 0-)

    3 years in Air Defense and I was staring at a civilian job involving a broom.  Short list of people who needed skills shooting down aircraft and the Afghans were not hiring right then because the Russians had just left.

    I too get uncomfortable about "thank you for your service."  Screw the thanks, just take care of my family and stop cutting my benefits.

    I get so sick of hearing about needing to reduce the military.  On a per capita basis we have one of the smallest militaries in the world.  Less than 1% serve.  And yet we have the biggest mission in the world - world police.  Want to cut the military?  Fine, Im all for that.  But take some stuff out of my ruck sack first.  Want to pay people less and give fewer benefits?  Fine but don't expect to get the highly trained, supper "productive" force you have now.  We kill more with less but don't expect cheap soldiers to be able to do that.  

    Everyone wants the capability of todays military.  No one wants to pay for it.  That goes for the right and left.  The right wants to cut people, the left wants to cut gear.  Neither want anything to change because of it except the budget.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 08:51:26 AM PDT

    •  Hear hear. (11+ / 0-)

      I've been saying for the longest time we should actually double the amount of infantry we have if were going to keep jumping into other people's problems all the time.

    •  Well, I'm on the left, and I'm 100% behind (7+ / 0-)

      cutting all sorts of non-personnel items, beginning with all bases not on American soil -- a viewpoint that implicitly wants to change almost everything about the way we envision our military's role.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:04:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course, even when the left wants (6+ / 0-)

      to cut people we want to do it by simply not recruiting as many people to replace those who are retiring.  But I definitely agree that there are far too many weapon systems that are a waste of money that nobody in the military from the grunts to the generals want that could be cut with no real effect.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:34:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not everyone (8+ / 0-)

      I really don't want the capability of today's military.  I'd much rather live in a prosperous country than a powerful one.

    •  The people are willing to pay for our troops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And would be glad to pay them enough to be the highest paid, most well qualified military on the planet.  Our elected leaders, however, are not willing to pay anyone anything if it takes one cent in taxes from the rich and powerful - which they are.  We can't get gun safety laws, immigration reform, universal pre-k education, free public university education, or many of the other things most of the citizens of this fair country want.  Why?  Because the Republicans in the House or the Senate bollix things up just to make sure Obama is a failed president.  They don't care about anything else - and they've said as much many times.  I hope they all get thrown out of office - but I know they won't, because the Koch brothers and their ilk can spend large fortunes on elections, and will buy them every time.  And I, at least, don't have enough money to stop them.

    •  Except that we do NOT have the mission (0+ / 0-)

      of being the "world police".  

      If we actually did, we'd be in Crimea now.  We'd have been in Syria long ago.  

      We'd actually be "policing the world"...not just sending our military to fight in (sorry, "police") places that our government thinks best benefits us...and ignoring everywhere else.  

      That's simply not how the "police" are supposed to work.  And we should all know it.   So let's stop pretending that's our "mission".  Because it most assuredly isn't.

    •  I Do NOT (0+ / 0-)

      want "the capability of todays military." I abhor it. I despise it. We use brute force so that a very few people can make even more money. We threaten the world. The world fears US. You know, we, the nation that has invaded more countries than anyone else, post WW II.

      I do NOT want "the capability of todays military." We DO need to reduce the military. World police? I do NOT want this misguided, quasi-christian, white-bread, entitled thug nation to police anyone. Whether at home or fucking up people in other countries, we have failed miserably at anything other than breeding more and more outlaw behavior.

      Are there bad people out to get us? Of course there are. We do need to protect ourselves. Do WE need to police the entire world? Of course not. It's hubris, a special form of sickness that requires the blood and spirit and death of our young. We export this culture of death which always and inevitably stops when there's no money to be made.

      I am grateful that I didn't get drafted when I saw so many of my friends killed or wounded in an absolutely senseless, asshole, fucked up, unnecessary war that did not protect anyone. It's really nice that I can use my visa card and go on guided tours and sailboard in Nam. All without western "civilization" being swallowed up by the yellow dominos.

      "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". –George Orwell

      by crescentdave on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 07:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Skills? (36+ / 0-)

    "Well, I kill people real good, and I don't come cheap neither. You gotta pay me $1000 a month."

    A bit of my old gallows humor, but so true for combat arms vets. Fortunately, I got out and was able to earn two Masters and a Ph.D. A lot of which were paid for. But you know what? I still wound up with more than $100,000 student debt. And the thing is, I know there are vets out there far worse off than me. What exactly does "support the troops" mean? "Support the MIC" is what we should be saying.

  •  Even as a mechanic, I felt indentured (37+ / 0-)

    After Basic I went to 6 months of avionics technical school, followed by 6 months of OJT, an apprenticeship that lasted another year, and at least a dozen system-specific "Field training" technical courses.  Throw in another 8 years of hands-on aircraft maintenance experience and you'd think we mechanics were prime recruiting fodder for airline maintenance jobs.  One tiny problem:

    No airframe & powerplant license.
    Military training should have been structured in such a way that it produced readily marketable job skills.  I often felt that the failure to do so was deliberate--so those of us with such skills would have difficulty leaving the service.

    This has been somewhat corrected in the past decade, but achieving that A&P still requires paying for instruction and taking the test.  IMHO, this kind of military training should be structured so it is accredited with civilian standards agencies, and the result of training should be a professional license.  Ditto for building electricians, plumbers, etc.

    Not that I'm complaining.  I earned a degree while on active duty and got a ton of valuable business training in disciplines like lean and continuous improvement.  These have allowed me to enter manufacturing as a salaried professional.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:00:04 AM PDT

    •  entitlement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, Kombema

      So this is my problem.  When the taxpayer is paying someone to do a job, are we paying for a job, or are we subsidizing training for the public sector?  Are we paying to get the equipment needed for our military service, or are we giving them free certification so they can go out and have an unequal advantage to those who also worked just as hard but for some reason could not use the military subsidies or could not otherwise afford the training.

      Kids are lied to all the time.  Part of growing up is knowing when adults are lying to you because they want to use you.  I have 14 year olds coming to me all the time excited about the JROTC because they are told that is the way to a guarantee lifetime income, free food, free care. Teen kids live in fear of a time when their parents are no longer going house and feed them

      The military, as an in loco parentis is very appealing to the adolescent mind, and appealing to conservatives who use the military to create an aristocracy of haves and a peasantry of have nots.  The have get government medical care, the have nots are told that government medical care is bad.  The have get subsidized cookies and chips, the have nots are told that any government help will make them weak.  The haves get paid more than minimum wage and housing and food, the have nots are told minimum wage makes us less productive.  The haves don't have to do productive work for a living, the have not have become more productive and make less money.

      The constitution says specifically that unless a war is declared, a private citizens stuff cannot be taken without consent.  The constitution says we can have a standing navy, but nothing else.  Yet we are in a time of peace and the military is taking our tax dollars.  We are in a time of peace and the conservatives want to cut funding to help our women who volunteered to have children and insure the future of country and give it to the military.  A teacher who volenteer to help rear our children has to work for 40 years, bur a military person can fill vending machines for 20 years and get a pension.

      I feel for the kids who expected an easy life with a few years of military service.  I feel for the kids who were told they were going to play video games on base for four years, then get out and get free college.  But you know what. I spent my middle and high school career being told by drug dealers that drugs were not bad for me, would make me feel good, and make me part of the in crowd. I knew they were lying.

      •  I agree somewhat (4+ / 0-)

        I DONT want the military to be a jobs program.  I DONT want anyone to paint it as anything but what it is - WARFARE.  

        Now I had mechanics and we pointed them in the direction of getting their ASE certification but only a few did.  Doom on those who didn't.  I had medics who I pointed to nursing certifications and some did.  Doom on those who didn't.

        I feel for the Combat Arms guys who only have killing skills but guess what, that was a choice.  I shire dint mind being Combat Arms when I got promoted fast.  I didn't mind being combat arms when I got the Army college fund that tripled my GI Bill.  ANd had I decided to stay combat Arms I would have gotten a nice fat bonus.  Choices.  

        Now as for the retirement, 20 years in the military grinds you down.  The military did not pick 20 randomly.  That is about when your body starts to not be able to do what we ask it to.  I have lived a healthy life  and my body can't take much more of this.  My knees ache every day from supporting 50 lbs of body armor and ammunition.  My back is the same.  My mind?  I don't want to tell you what deployments have done to that.  And few who retire right at 20 can afford to live on their retirement alone.  Almost all have to work a second profession.  

        The military dent TAKE tax dollars, they are given by representatives elated by the people.  Please don't try to wash you hands on any responsibility for the budget.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:42:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not Just Combat Arms (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I had great electronics training (PMEL) but also had added the Auxiliary Security Police job.  The comfort of a airconditioned lab along with sitting in a hole on the perimeter.  Dual jobs, but as I have been reading more, it was about the Pentagon or some neo-cons wanting to go back into Vietnam in 1974-5.

          Being taught how to kill is something that I have not found useful in my daily life.  I did get a great life from the electronics education though.

      •  Effective training, not entitlement (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark E Andersen, lurkyloo

        Both in the military and in civilian work, I'd rather lead people who have the skills to leave, but stay instead.  It forces employers to step up their game and delivers better goods and services.  There are civilian employers who invest in employee education and certification--especially in manufacturing where just being able to assemble pieces into products isn't enough anymore.

        As for whether or not G.I's classify as "haves", that is just ideology and ignorant arrogance talking.  I worked my ass off every day and didn't exactly earn a fortune doing it.

        Filling vending machines for a living?  On what planet is that occurring?

        "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

        by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:05:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  First and most important for "supporting our troop (41+ / 0-)

    Don't make more combat veterans and casualties without a REAL good reason.
    And those that we do make, treat them proper, dmmmmt.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:00:39 AM PDT

  •  Both of my sons (24+ / 0-)

    serve in the Navy, they ask me all the time, what do I say to people that thank me for doing my job? I have always just told them to smile, be polite and say thanks back, they are uncomfortable with it. Maybe the correct answer would be to ask that they make sure their congresscritters are getting the picture.

    If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.

    by RepresentUsPlease on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:01:46 AM PDT

    •  I overheard one kid just out of the Marines (22+ / 0-)

      handle that statement this way:

      "Could you share your feelings with our Congressman  Kurt Schrader? The only job I could find is at the Walmart Distribution Center. My wife is about to have our 2nd kid and we are on food stamps. Congressman Schrader needs to hear your opinion more frequently."
      The thing I most admire about almost all of these new Veterans is how politically smart they are. They get it. So, when the Veteran was done with his response, I stuck out my hand to shake his. I told him that I was a Vet, too. I told him that he needed to run for a seat on the city council. By just doing that - even if he didn't succeed - the Congressman would get to know him on first name basis.

      Then we spent about 10 minutes talking about how you actually run for city council in our town. When we got to the "ya, but no me" part of the discussion, I asked him, "If not you, then who?" We exchanged phone number and e-mail contacts. He's thinking about it.

      Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:04:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  my roommate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and his brother both served in the air force and navy respectively.   Neither like talking about it nor letting people from work know that they served.

      "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

      by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:41:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On top of all you list, the gop is trying to kill (28+ / 0-)

    the USPS, and the Dems are letting them, (of course).
    The USPS, when I was a kid, was one of the main sources of good jobs, with good benefits, for veterans.
    We still need the USPS, in red states and districts especially.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:02:06 AM PDT

  •  Air Force here. 1972-1976. (22+ / 0-)

    Obviously I joined but a low lottery number helped make that decision. I was lucky, I was in communications and got a pretty decent job when I got out. Used the GI-bill to go to college and a VA loan on my first house. I'm not sure that today's vets have those advantages. I agree that we should spend less on conventional weapons and more on veterans needs.

    I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

    by Jim Riggs on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:02:22 AM PDT

  •  I am positive this won't bode well here (7+ / 0-)

    Here is a quote from this diary: "Those four years that I served had an outsized impact on my life and forever changed the person I was. My veteran’s benefits paid for me to go to school and attain my Master’s degree. Something I never would have been able to achieve without the discipline I learned in the military."

    Then, the diary goes into some negative thoughts and opinions about how being in the military doesn't help you when you get out in progressing in your life and employment.

    I'm also ex-military and had to work hard in my early years as a younger troop and even worked part time in the NCO club for extra bucks I needed.  I worked my way up, took classes offered for free at on-base college campuses, used the systems they had to grow.  

    So, this diary is an opinion many, many vets would take exception with.  I'm a VFW member and I know veteran's attitudes and their beliefs about the service, so even though I know I'll get grief here, I feel some of what is presented here is not necessarily most veteran's opinion.

    •  You do not speak for all vets... (26+ / 0-)

      ....and neither do I. Some will relate to this post, others, like you will not. Hopefully though it will start a conversation about how we treat our troops, how we pay our troops, and how we treat our veterans. We all deserve better than slogans.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:17:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I can absolutely agree with that (6+ / 0-)

        Thanks.  I believe you see, though, what I'm saying also.

        •  I do... (9+ / 0-)

          ...but, it sounds like we had totally different experiences in the military (and there is nothing wrong with that, just gives each of us totally different perspectives on it). I never had the time to work part-time or to take college classes. When I was in Germany we were in the field more often not. When with the 101st, it was constant training and time in the field.

          I also had many friends with families that were living in sub-standard housing off-post and relying on food stamps to put food on the table.

          Don't get me wrong, I am proud of my service and I am still in contact with many of the men I served with. I just think we could pay our troops better and help them be better prepared for life outside the military.

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:49:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  New troops make less than min. wage (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            llbear, ladybug53

            I was Air Force and you were in the Army.  That, in itself, is probably the difference in our experiences.  And, I TOTALLY agree that this is something that shouldn't exist.  But, ALL services pay the same via ranks and many of the lower ranks make less than minimum wage which is absurd.  

            I lived on base housing with my wife and 2 children after reenlistment when I was stationed at Pope AFB/Ft. Bragg in North Carolina.  Base housing was apartments and off base the housing allowance even including separate rations wouldn't get you much.  So, we're like minded on all of that.

            I guess my main purpose for my disagreement in your diary was in what people learned in the military and what was offered if people chose to make the effort to get it and the experiences and then the school allowances after you got out.  THAT is mostly what most recruiters "promise", not much else, from what I've seen.  So, an expectation of going into service for 4 years and then coming out all ready for a great paying, nicely position job has really never been there in all cases (it has in some depending on career field in service, of course).

            •  I never expected... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dirtandiron, Aquarius40

              ...a great high paying job when I got out. However, I would have thought that some of my skills would have been transferable other than PT.

              Again, I was in Combat Arms, which is a whole different animal than many other MOS'

              "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

              by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:06:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Uh, no they don't. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The absolute lowest paid soldier in the military has a base pay of $1416.30 and that is only for the first 4 months.  After that it goes up to $1531

              In addition they receive $357.55 in Basic Allowance for Substance - food - and that is tax free.

              Finally they receive a MINIMUM of $510 housing allowance.

              Alternately they live free in housing and eat free in the dining facility.

              Not even including the tax advantage of BAS and BAH the ABSOLUTE lowest paid person in the military receives $2283 a month and after 4 months they get a $115 a month pay raise.  In addition to all of that they receive full medical and dental benefits and begging earning retirement.  And they earn 30 days of paid leave every year.  Work 11, get paid for 12.

              Now given a "normal" 40 hour work week that equals roughly $14 an hour of direct benefit and roughly three that in indirect benefit (retirement and medical).  Thats right, DoD calculates it cost $3 for every dollar of pay for other benefits.  Of course not every week has 40 hours…..some have less.  I get EVERY Federal holiday and usually a "training" holiday to go with each one.  So 10 federal and 10 training holidays every year.  Additionally there are other training holidays for different occasions.  In a normal year I get 20-25 extra days off a year.  Thats one every other week.  And unlike almost every other entry levee gob on the planet, being sick does not make you broke.  Soldiers get paid.  Period.  I got a week quarters for having a wisdom tooth taken out.  Did it cost me a weeks pay?  Nope.  

              Soldiers earn way over minimum wage and that is a good thing.

              It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

              by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:58:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I have often found it interesting that serving (5+ / 0-)

      in the military generally seems to push vets in two distinct directions. Either they come out thinking that the military is the best thing ever, it saved my life, etc etc etc (my dad), OR they come out thinking that it's nothing but a meat-grinder that wastes money and lives for no good purpose (my uncle).

      I also note with interest that the dividing line seems to at least roughly match that between those who were shot at, and those who were not (most people in the military never hear a single shot fired in anger).

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:58:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Have noticed the same thing repeatedly however I am a bit biased as a close friend spent all of his time in vietnam as a sniper running around the jungles and most of the other former military I know or have known were a.  doing logistics in kuwait during desert storm or similar b.  stationed in alaska, germany, japan, puerta rico or somewhere in the US during most, if not all, of their tenure.

        None of the non-combat former military except one had any particular issues trying to find their way back into civilian life.  The one that did have issues (a roommate) had gotten badly burned on the legs by a grenade explosion during war games in so call but he was getting $1,300 a month (in 1990) and could walk okay but with some pain... his personality was such that it did not significantly negatively affect his socialization skills after he was out.

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:54:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  OK. Write about it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mark E Andersen, kurious

      I feel some of what is presented here is not necessarily most veteran's opinion.

      I don't think either you or Mark can speak for more than a portion of today's newly minted Veterans - and I'm not challenging either opinion. I know that in certain quarters both opinions are valid.

      Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:15:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Vets with PTSD, closed head injury, MST, and... (4+ / 0-)

      ...other physical and emotional traumas may not have the same abilities or options to take advantage of educational or work opportunities as did others who may not have experienced the same issues.

      When suicide rates spike among young veterans all is not totally well:

      New suicide data released by the department on Thursday showed that the rate of veterans suicide remained largely unchanged over that three-year period, the latest for which statistics are available. About 22 veterans a day take their own life, according to department estimates...

      ...male veterans under 30 saw a 44 percent increase in the rate of suicides. That’s roughly two young veterans a day who take their own life, most just a few years after leaving the service.

      “Their rates are astronomically high and climbing,” said Jan Kemp, VA’s National Mental Health Director for Suicide Prevention. “That’s concerning to us.”

       Reasons for the increase are unclear, but Kemp said the pressures of leaving military careers, readjusting to civilian life and combat injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder all play a role in the problems facing young male vets.

      Female veterans saw an 11 percent increase in their suicide rate over the same span. Overall, suicide rates for all veterans remain significantly above their civilian counterparts...

  •  I have mixed and complicated feelings (21+ / 0-)

    Having come of age during VietNam and having avoided service only by luck of the birthday lottery.   I don't know what I think about "supporting the troops" beyond thinking " don't exploit the troops," " don't sacrifice the troops," " don't abandon the troops."

    The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of those, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. - Omaha Platform, 1892

    by Rikon Snow on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:04:52 AM PDT

  •  My son is in the Army (47+ / 0-)

    and what galls him the most is that he works along side private contractors- who do the exact same work- and get paid three times as much as he does.

    My son is career army.  He has six years to go for full pension retirement.  Now he wonders if it is worth it.  Would his pension be there?  Three tours of active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Another year in Korea.  Time away from family and friends and 'in harm's way".

    He talks a lot about not re-upping the next time around and becoming one of those well-paid contractors.  He said one firm is offering $700,000 a year!

    Why are we paying private contractors three times as much as we are paying our military?

    That just doesn't sound like supporting our troops.  Sounds like we are under-supporting them.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:06:06 AM PDT

    •  Contractors (23+ / 0-)
      Why are we paying private contractors three times as much as we are paying our military?
      Ask Dick (Halliburton) Cheney.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:23:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I was in... (21+ / 0-)

        ...I was always baffled as to why a Civilian was training us how to drive Armored Personnel Carriers, running our mess halls, and other odd jobs. These days the contractors do much, much more.

        "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

        by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:25:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately, the very jobs with skills (4+ / 0-)

          that could be translated into civilian jobs are the ones that are contracted out.

          •  As should be (0+ / 0-)

            You take your business and decide what is your core competency.  Do that.  Now add in things that support that core that are no fail - i.e. you want total control over them because if they fail, you fail.  Do those.  Now everything else you need to decide if you REALLY need to do that or if you should hire someone else to.

            For the Army, our core competency is pulling triggers.  It is something we HAVE to do.  Additionally we can not fail in some specific areas - intelligence, some logistics, a few other things.  Food service is not one of them.  

            I oversaw a dining facility for 2+ years.  I had to send cooks to military leadership schools.  I didn't need leaders, I needed burger flippers.  But I had to send them or they wouldnt get promoted.  Same for gas pumpers.  Same for depo level mechanics.  

            Do what you have to, hire an expert for the rest.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:14:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Gov't, ESPECIALLY THE MILITARY is NOT a BUSINESS! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dirtandiron, 417els

              caps intended.

              That screwed-up thinking is the core of what's wrong in DC now (on both sides). Business mentality is profit-centric, fine, that's what they do. The military is a fighting, defending, NOT-FOR-PROFIT, just-keep-us-safe organization of humans.

              When a base is being over-run, or an offensive needs instantaneous body count, you're "gas pumpers" and "burger flippers" had better be at least competent "trigger pullers", protectors not civilians you have to expend resources to protect. That is the part of of your calculus that needs a re-think in every corner, especially the five corners at the heart of the MIC.

              The "most profitable" mentality is fine at Wharton but is anathema to West Point. What that thinking has lead to is a bloated, slave-holding, near total corruption of what George Washington didn't want and Dwight David Eisenhower warned us against.

              21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

              by geez53 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:29:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree to a point (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But soldiers are expensive and we can't afford to have them doing non-core functions.  

                The idea that a cook can instantly drop the spoon and pick up a rifle is for times past.  We are so highly trained and so specialized that they would be a bigger hinderance in anything but a completely desperate situation.  

                The bigger issue is we are not feeding front line troops anything but MREs and T Rations anyway.  Food service became the classic "support that supports support."  

                Who do you feed?
                This guy.
                What does he do?
                Fixes my stove.

                So his only reason to be here is to allow you to feed him?  

                Now the problem is how we write those contracts.  Contracts done right deliver better for less.  During the Bush/Cheney years there was no effort to make contracts do more for less.  

                It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

                by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:54:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree to a point/the military is not a business! (0+ / 0-)

                      Well, as a student of history, I can tell you that the US military did very well when it had cooks who could shoot. Won global wars in less than a decade and sent people back to civilian life who had adaptable skills.

                     The US military is not doing so well relying on contractors--like the ones whose electrician's skills were so good(sic) that soldiers got electrocuted taking showers in Iraq. And, the pace of victory does seem to have slowed(see Afghanistan) with the new Contractors' military.

                     And, for pete's sake, why are we calling contractors carrying guns, "contractors"?  They are mercenaries and mercenaries are not good for democracy. (see Africa, S.America, etc)

              •  Profit thinking not always bad (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Just because we are not a for profit business doesn't mean we can take lessons from business.

                As an example - My father in law worked at IBM when they decided to outsource their payroll processing.  They turned it over to Price Waterhouse (memory not 100%) for $.72 a transaction.  So every time someone got paid, $.72.  Every raise, every pay cut, every change to withholding, etc, $.72.  At the same time the Army was paying $32 a transaction.  That is insane and how can that be?  Because at DFAS Indiana we had Soldiers (and Sailers, Marines and Airmen) who were attending the same professional development schools as infantry leaders.  We had commissioned officers who had the skills to lead units in combat leading a keyboard and mouse.  And because they needed to have a normal career development path they were moving every 3 years at a cost of approximately $50K a move.  

                We took lessons from business and built a web site that let soldiers do most of their basic pay transactions themselves.  We stopped spending $16K per to recruit people to process pay.  We stopped spending $100K training them on the pay system.  We stopped spending another $150K to send them to leadership schools.  Even if we paid a contractor TWICE what a soldier cost it was savings because we were not paying those $3 for every dollar of pay for medical and retirement.  

                Pay issues used to be so common they were the subject of numerous jokes and cadence calls.  Now not only are pay issues rare, they are solved much faster.  It used to be the norm that if you got promoted you waited 2-3 months before your pay caught up.  Not now.  The cut off for pay changes was the 5th of the month when I came in.  if it wasn't in by the 5th, you waited another month.  Today its the 20th.  Put in a change on the 20th and it is reflected in your pay 10 days later.  A big part of that was transitioning from soldiers who did finance to finance professionals.

                Last time I had to be involved with it we were down to $8 a transaction and had reduced the number of transactions by 2/3rds.  

                It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

                by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:43:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Went into the AF in '71 ...... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Had few problems with pay.  Lackland to Keesler no issues, military handled all travel and didn't miss a pay period. Rank increase to pay increase lag was about 1 month but got the retro in the same corrected check all without saying boo to anyone. and that was in the days of snail mail and tape drive memory. When i left for my first real world assignment, elected to drive myself and take some leave. Travel expense check in-hand before exiting the main gate. Next regular check was waiting for me at the next-to-nothing in-the-middle-of-no-where Montana radar installation. Not sure, have no way of knowing what went FUBAR between then and the issues of the latter generations you described. But it was totally in-house and worked.

                  As to the discrepancy between $.72 and $32 per trans, you're right, it's insane, too insane to be taken at face value. No reflection on you, but it sounds like apples to oranges accounting comparisons. I'd have to see what was counted as cost and to whom. Example: the famous cost-of-the-war analysis that gets bantered around. I was in Montana (no cost of war) my bud was in Thailand, higher per diem and haz duty pay was his only real difference in pay. Yet they counted his whole check as war expense, when they would and did pay him a just slightly lesser rate when he rotated back. Point is his base pay should not have counted as c-o-w since they were going to pay him that rate in war or peace.

                  BTW we did have a civilian contractor at our station. Technically he was supposed to watch and advise us. His real and only duty was to make coffee and keep the donut pile fresh-from-the-mess (all military, no $48/six-pack of coke). Reason: he was tube, we were transistor. If we, as 3 levels, had an issue, we asked a 5 level. When we trained up to 5 level, we asked a 7 level. All in house, all military. The civilian tech rep was just another cost-plus add-on for Burroughs. He did make a decent pot of coffee though.

                  21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

                  by geez53 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:35:54 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Of course you include pay (0+ / 0-)

                    Different issue than war accounting because those people existed for the sole purpose to process pay.  And then you have real property - DFAS Indy and DFAS Rome are in huge buildings that consume power.  They need maintenance.  They require a property book manager.  Computers cost money.  Network infrastructure cost money.  Back when we printed and mailed out hard copy LES forms, that cost money.  But it was really the long term costs in retirement and medical that added up.  Included in the cost of todays pay transaction was the guy who retired 30 years ago and the kid who finished school last week and had a complicated pregnancy.  

                    But if I contract it out for $.72 a transaction all that becomes someone else's problem.  We didn't contract out everything but we did significantly reduce the military portion of the work.  Some got converted to civilian positions and some got replaced by a web site.  And most of the ones eliminated were at the unit level so we got exponential savings.

                    A typical Army battalion would have 3-5 finance people.  A brigade would have 3-5 more and maybe a finance officer.  Eliminate them and the battalion has one fewer truck, two fewer tents (one work, one sleep), one fewer generator (work) and two fewer heaters, 6-10 fewer computers, 10-12 fewer radios, 6-10 fewer personal weapons, 1 fewer crew served weapon, 3 fewer barracks rooms, and on and on.  Eliminating those 3-5 people could easily eliminate the need for one standard shipping container during a unit movement.  Now multiply that times the 1000+ battalions in the Army.  Do it again for the 60+ brigades.  Reduce a similar amount at the 10 Divisions.  It adds up fast.  Now after eliminating them I no longer need a branch manager to take care of the of career progression.  I can roll finance and personnel together and have one person do both.  I no longer need to maintain a separate school house for them to do professional development.  I don't need to have separate boards for their promotions.  More savings that were previously adding to my cost per transaction.

                    Thats how we get $32 per transaction.

                    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

                    by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 08:10:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And fewer people with jobs. (0+ / 0-)

                      This isn't about robotic efficiencies. It's about Humans, unless you're a syntax corrected, AI, Watson level bot (already done) you really need to think on that.

                      You said it yourself " cost per transaction." And i know it didn't even cross your mind, that most basic precept of economics; EVERY cost is someone else's paycheck. Now if your cost reduction of say $1mil means that some man-god ceo can only squeeze $19mil from profits instead of $20mil for that FY, then no real harm, next year's Bugatti will be a better buy any way. But that's not what happens. $2/share off projected dividend? Nightmare! No, it'll probably be 5 or 6 thousand jobs outsourced/off-shored to cheaper labor some where. Replaced entirely by an algorithm maybe. That is a real problem, because those are real people. Yeah, if they are 20s, 30s even 40s they might get by with something less and a harder life. But if they are 50s, 60s .... well .... FUBAR works here too.

                      Bottom line, we are approaching that point where there will be a doubling of the population of people needing jobs and a halving of the jobs available. In my life i've already witnessed the doubling of just this nation's population and 1 robot that can un-employ 20 people at a time. But hey, you've got a job, what else matters right? Not your problem, you got your cost-cutting gold star. Those burger-flippers at the FOB in Iraq who were duped into involuntary servitude by a contractor recruiter? Well, he's at the finish line of our race to the bottom, lucky him (till they perfect a self directed AI burger bot at an acceptable and efficient price point).

                      21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

                      by geez53 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:03:27 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  There are 3 economic sectors: for-profit, private (0+ / 0-)

                non-profit, and public (i.e. government at all level).

        •  . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron, geez53

          it got me pretty angry about the whole situation.  Also the use of national guard personnel.  To me it was all a 'strategy' to avoid calling up the draft and the political repercussions from doing so.  Had an discussion about it with an air force vet in our office about it, he felt a draft gets people in the service who don't want to be there (yeah, true), I felt it allowed politicians to be more inclined to wage war without political penalty and those without kids in the service to be more apathetic towards waging war and supporting of war mongering politicians as they have nothing personal invested in it or with the prospect having their kids face combat.

          "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

          by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:04:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When bush called in the national guard to pursue (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marty marty

            His imperial aims and then held them over on stop loss orders I hoped there would have been more of an outcry.

            I'm not sure but at the time I thought it was unprecedented and done precisely to avoid a draft which would have been poorly received.

            Our armed forces are little more than mercenaries and suckers.

            If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

            by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:25:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Calling them "suckers" is HR worthy, IMHO. n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

              by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 03:48:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Others here have called them naive... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                marty marty

                You say potatoe I say potatow...

                If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

                by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:00:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I didn't HR, but I think calling them "suckers" is (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  a jerk move. Nobody volunteers because they like Koch Brothers or Wall Street.

                  Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

                  by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:02:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Volunteering in today's military out of a sense (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    marty marty

                    Of patriotism is to be a sucker...

                    There's a reason WWII is the "good" war...

                    And it's because no war we've fought since has been worth dying for...  Unless its for the money.

                    If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

                    by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:06:51 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Considering just about every able bodied member (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      of my family is in or has been in the military- I find your comments insulting.

                      And, since most of them joined when we were not 'at war', I also find you sadly uninformed.

                      Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

                      by grannycarol on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:09:31 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  All of my uncles (0+ / 0-)

                        and my dad didn't wait around to get drafted for WW2, they all enlisted. My dad and my mom's brother both had ships shot out from under them in the Pacific, my dad's 'middle' brother ended up with a Bronze Star in Europe, and my eldest uncle got a medical discharge right out of boot camp - and ended up as a civilian employee of the Army Air Corps anyway.

                        I enlisted about 6 months after Nam was officially over, but the only reason I waited that long was that I couldn't turn 17 any sooner. I spent my time in as a Navy corpsman and managed to make E-5 in 3 years in peacetime - I even impressed my old man. Even though I never did see the elephant; this was during the Cold War where for all we knew, we were less than 40 minutes away from the end of the world.

                        I do see a lot of vets in my civilian practice, and some of them have real problems that the VA can't or won't address. I do what I can for them, but it's frustrating that I can't do more - like help them land a decent job, get some real counseling, or even find a safe place to live. It pisses me off to no end that we can spend so much damn dough on new toys for the top brass, but the people who served? F**k 'em. Do we really need to spend so much on hardware???

      •  Well, thank FSM he's gone (5+ / 0-)

        and that abominable disparity has been fixed.


        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:45:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cheney is gone, but the contractors and their (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marty marty, corvo

          fanboys and girls in Congress are now entrenched.

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 03:49:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  precisely. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Except that I doubt Cheney is really gone.

            Don't forget his fangirl in State, a certain Ms. Nuland!  More "change we can believe in," wouldn't you know.

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 07:37:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think most Americans understand this or (15+ / 0-)

      even KNOW about it.  I knew they got paid more, but had no idea it was three times more.

      It would be great if Veterans did some Op-eds on this very point or worked with good media to do it.

      This is just WRONG on all sorts of levels and a complete waste.

      If we can afford to pay contractors three times what we are paying soldiers, then we can certainly afford to pay soldiers three times what they are currently making, for God's sake.

      This is a moral abomination.

      The only hawk I like is the kind that has feathers.

      by cany on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:40:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, geez53, marty marty

        agree but don't know any good media in the US that would actually reach a large swath of the population and discuss such topics except alternative news websites that few ever read.  NYT wouldn't touch such a topic IMO, they all were waving their little chinese made flags in the runup to the war.

        "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:08:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The media does not want to discuss it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geez53, lurkyloo

          It interferes with the narrative that the "private sector can always do it cheaper."

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:10:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well any organizational leader can write an (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Op-Ed, and I would think Veterans group leaders would be able to do this readily and make the case. How is it that the media would be willing to turn down well written and well thought through Op-Eds from Vet groups?

          I'd sure be trying it in areas where the Ed Boards aren't entirely dismal and where the papers have at least the appearance of not being right wing.

          All they can do is say no... not like Vets haven't ever heard that before:)  And if you get published by a good newspaper, you may get picked up by others.

          I'd be trying it.  Absolutely NOTHING to lose.


          The only hawk I like is the kind that has feathers.

          by cany on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:40:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  As always, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, Dirtandiron, lurkyloo

      it is to have the public support the private.  I've never understood how anyone could think having to include profit in a price was somehow cost efficient.

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

      by TracieLynn on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:49:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Grannycarol, tell your son to do the six years (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, Boris49, grannycarol, cpresley, geez53

      And get his military retirement. It is definitely worth it. He won't regret it. I am a retiree and I speak from experience.

      "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." - President Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013.

      by surfermom on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:13:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  His retirement will be fine (4+ / 0-)

      The courts have been clear on that on multiple occasions.  What ever deal you were promised when you signed your contract is the one you get.  

      I have had a few guys punch early and work as contractors.  Few liked it.  There is no security at all.  They can be fired/let go for no reason.  If they are hired against a contract and that contract goes away, so does their job.  They don't actually work for the company, just the contract.

      Contractor jobs are being cut like crazy.  Last year my activity had to justify no meeting our 70% cut in contractors.  We only had one and we couldn't figure out how to shave off 70% of him.  This year we were told we get zero.  30 September he will be unemployed.  

      I have had bad army days when I thought about getting out.  The first time I sat down and calculated how much retirement I was giving up.  It was a big number.  I have made it a habit of recalculating every year.  The current value is $2.4 million.  That is how much I would have to have to buy a variable annuity that paid for my retirement with COLA increases and pay for a medical plan that came close to what I will have.  

      Tell him to hang in there.  6 years will fly by.  The day he goes over 20 the Army gets WAY easier.  The simple knowledge that you can quit when every you want and get paid is very liberating.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:08:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know this is a bit hippy dippy trippy (15+ / 0-)

    But it is an all-volunteer military and I never forget the old "What if they threw a war and nobody came?"

    I never say the "thank you for your service" thing because I think most people say it as if that could somehow make up for the appalling way they are treated as veterans.  It seems to me some veterans must feel that way, anyway.  Perhaps I am wrong - it is how I would feel if I were a vet.  I'd want to see more than mouthing platitudes and plastering a bumper sticker.

    Besides, I would like to see all the citizens of the world just stop.  Refuse to be fodder for the fancies of the military industrial complex or the delusions of the dictator or the compensations of the Napoleon.  Let the foot soldiers call  a cease fire wherever they go and refuse to dehumanize the "enemy" and mutually embrace each other's goodness.

    Silly "Imagine" dreams aside, "Thank you for your service" is hypocritical unless it is followed by political advocacy that works to ensure a better life for all active military and veterans - work that says follow the money, because there you will see what our society truly values.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:09:51 AM PDT

    •  yeah killing people (13+ / 0-)

      seems to be the first thing people (and nations) could stop doing.

      but thats hippy dippy unrealistic

      drones are a cost effective way of generating enough new terrorists that calls to cut military spending will fail.

      by just want to comment on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:15:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe they felt that was their best option? n/t (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl, whaddaya, llbear, Gustogirl

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:24:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That makes them mercenaries... (0+ / 0-)

        Which is he only reason to join the military that I have much respect for...

        If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

        by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:29:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Thank you for your service" (10+ / 0-)

      It has become one of those empty headed phrases people automatically say when they learn someone is/has been in the service. Open mouth, spew platitude. That phrase does nothing.  Living conditions, pensions--all were historically inadequate--still are.  The only great thing this nation did for its military was the GI bill after WWII. It changed the face of a nation. I dislike that "Thank you" phrase a lot--and I come from a family steeped in military service--back to King Phillip's War in 1675!

      The only war we missed was Vietnam--because when called for his physical after finishing college (before the lottery) my brother was in a cast from hip to ankle--having broken a leg playing pick-up basketball. They classified him 4F--surprise, surprise. By the time the cast was off he had an employment deferment--an engineer in a military support industry. So no veteran of Viet Nam in this family--just pretty much all the rest!

       I could join DAR on half a dozen lines.  Great grandfathers served on both sides of the Civil War. My grandfather was in WWI, my father on front lines for 3 1/2 years in WW II--and reactivated for Korea.  I have a son who served in the first Gulf War. I have two grandsons currently serving--one now in Afghanistan. Don't offer them platitudes.  Offer them real things from a grateful populace.

  •  Nobody seems to wonder how raising the minimum (17+ / 0-)

    wage to, say, $15/hour would affect military recruiting.

    Nobody but me, I mean.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:10:33 AM PDT

  •  'I support the troops, AND they did volunteer …' (5+ / 0-)

    our problem lies with policies, strategies, and tactics driven by kleptocractic politicians and capitalists more concerned with materiel than humanity

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:12:27 AM PDT

  •  Well-expressed, sir (17+ / 0-)

    I look at my own service in pretty much the same way as you do yours, with the exception that my training (as an AF law enforcement specialist) was a bit more transferable to the civilian world. Despite the presumed leg up in getting a job as a cop, however, I decided not to go that route, and instead used my GI Bill bennies to underwrite my lavish lifestyle as an undergrad history major at a state university.

  •  On the flip side (6+ / 0-)

    The civilian sector needs to get better at identifying and honoring equivalent skill sets cultivated in service.  DaveInBremerton's story is just one of the ridiculous and unnecessary examples of how we waste one members of one of the most well trained and capable corps of workers this country produces.  I've worked with several veteran founded companies, including my current employer, across a number of fields from manufacturing to marketing.  I haven't worked for one that couldn't identity at minimum AS equivalency for virtually every veteran applicant, and with rare exception the veteran won the job.

    •  Military discipline alone is a worthy job skill (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, rduran, bearsguy, asterlil

      Smart employers recognize that, and I've certainly seen a major transformation on that front since my son joined the Marines. Although he's in Infantry, which is probably the least transferable skill, his sense of discipline, his "get the job done no matter what it takes" attitude, and his ability to learn new skills and tasks would make him a very good entry-level employee in the civilian world.

      •  The Marine corporal's course (0+ / 0-)

        has turned out many of the best team supervisors I've encountered.  There are very few opportunities to learn how to take stock of inventory and personnel and devise the plan of the day, contingency plans, or improvisations under pressure.  That's more valuable to me than someone who simply knows a proprietary tool I can train them to use satisfactorily within a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

  •  And the trend is fewer people (8+ / 0-)

    As the US military goes more "drone/cyber", fewer bodies will be required, but more gear--in other words, more machines to bill taxpayers for.

    "Support the troops" really means "yay, war!" to the unwashed and "give us money" to the elite.


    by Johnny Wendell on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:18:51 AM PDT

  •  So the troops are like all workers and should... (5+ / 0-) getting a bigger part of the pie but lack the leverage to demand it and the decision makers have different priorities than a decent living wage.  This is a national labor/employee issue, about how we as a nation wish to compensate the employed for wages and benefit, with what goals and infrastrusture. Unify.

  •  I can absolutely identify with your comment (20+ / 0-)

    about entering the service a young, naive kid. I was drafted and, after experiencing the lie they called "winning" in Vietnam, got out more radicalized and anti-war than I ever was before going in. Politicians like my senator McCain drive me nuts: he plays the "support the troops" card, but then votes to cut veterans benefits. If McCain wants to send soldiers to war (which is most of the time), he can always find money for that; but afterward, when the vets need an education, medical treatment, or a job, not so much.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:20:26 AM PDT

    •  Too right. (0+ / 0-)
      If McCain wants to send soldiers to war (which is most of the time), he can always find money for that; but afterward, when the vets need an education, medical treatment, or a job, not so much.
      If we could just hook up McCain's late grandfather and dad to generator turbines, their spinning in their graves could probably generate a few megawatts of juice.

      I'm still appalled at his helping to sell American MIAs up the river back when. Why do those people in Arizona keep re-electing this fool?

  •  Supporting long as it doesn't cost (7+ / 0-)

    That's what conservatives do. But they get on their high horses when comes time to vote benefits for veterans or cutting budget for purchase of military equipment, even when not needed...

  •  When I got back to Ft. Mother Rucker (21+ / 0-)

    After my tour, there were hundreds of us 67N20s (Huey mechanics). Did we turn wrenches? No we drove pilots out their choppers on the flight line, loaded ammo out on the gunnery ranges and every other mundane job except work on Hueys. That was for contractors.

    Pissed us all off. But is was a lesson in how the MIC really worked.

    Wanted to work on them when I got out but


    No airframe & powerplant license.

    Repentant ex member of Murder Inc.
    Southeast Asia Division
    Our motto, "Kill Anything That Moves"

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:23:52 AM PDT

  •  over the years, I've often heard my fellows in (9+ / 0-)

    the antiwar movement railing against "the troops" for the silly, stupid and unnecessary wars our government fights.

    But I've never held anything against the grunts. They are victims of militarism just as much as the people they are ordered to shoot at. The troops are just poor schmucks who don't make any of the decisions, and are forced by economic necessity to wear a uniform, get pushed out onto a battlefield, and shoot some other poor schmuck in a different uniform who also doesn't make any of the decisions--all to protect the interests of someone else who is too good to get his hands dirty on a battlefield himself. The two shmucks have more in common with each other than either one does with the politicians and corporados who pushed them there. They don't get asked whether we should go to war, any more than anyone else does. They don't have any say in that decision and nobody gives a flying fuck about their opinion.  

    There are lots of soldiers on both sides who had their lives or their limbs taken from them (they NEVER "give their lives", their lives are brutally TAKEN from them) for no good reason at all. The sad thing about militarism is that it doesn't only kill people on the "other side".

    Wars come from the top, not from the bottom.

    On the other hand, I must oppose, with every fiber of my being, the militarism that dominates BOTH parties in the US today. We have become, every place we look, a military national-security state. We've been conditioned to view the military as "the good guys" with only the most humanitarian of motives and actions. Everywhere I look in the US, I am bombarded by cheery messages about "our heroes" and "supporting our troops".  It reminds me of all the propaganda posters that the Nazis, the Stalinists and the North Koreans produce showing smiling happy soldiers picking potatoes in the fields.

    The military hurts people and breaks things.  That's what it DOES.  That's ALL it does.  It's not a humanitarian society or a jobs-training program or a college-financial-aid center.

    I remember when people used to OPPOSE militarism.  Now, alas, too many in both parties embrace it.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:28:00 AM PDT

  •  I'd likely be dead or in prison. (24+ / 0-)

    Were it not for the USMC. They literally saved my life. I was not a good boy. People say 'thank you for your service' but i'm more apt to say 'thank YOU for paying your taxes.'

    And guess what? There are a hell of lot more like me now than there was when I joined up.

    •  I have a few friends... (13+ / 0-)

      ...who have said the same thing. In my case it did give me direction and discipline that I was lacking.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:33:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Semper Fi (6+ / 0-)

      Same here, My recruiter WAS the driving force for me to Graduate High School, Grateful to this Day, Served 82-90, 0311, Had a great career and taught me a lot. The drive and motivation remains with me to this day.

      •  USMC has done the same for my son (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dbm, bearsguy, cpresley, brooklynbadboy

        He never would have graduated high school had it not been for his recruiter, and as I posted upthread, the drive, discipline, and goal-oriented attitude that's been instilled in him as a grunt, 0311, is astounding.

        •  No doubt kat (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cpresley, kat herder

          And just with that mindset and discipline, It has done a lot of good for me, As it will for your Son. After I got out, I went to a 3 year Apprenticeship, Have been in the Construction trades since getting out and have taken EMT, FF1,2, other Related courses as a 1st responder. Having that mindset and being Older, More Mature, I excelled in the Various Schooling since then. If I only had that same mindset in High School!! Tell your Son Good luck, Be Safe, And Semper Fi  

          •  Thank you, bearsguy, I will! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It's very encouraging to hear your story. My son went from getting straight D- grades in high school to talking for the first time in his life about taking college classes. He's also thinking about his future in ways that he never did before he became a Marine, which of course as his mother is such a relief to see, though of course there is the constant worry for his safety, but that's another issue!

            •  I really enjoyed Schooling!! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kat herder

              Seriously, When I did my classes, I saw younger Kid's making the Mistakes that I did early in Life, Just shook my Head and studied even harder!! Quick story, I was 18 stationed in CA, Having a Great time, Beirut was going on, (Didn't go) Well I didn't write home as often as I should have. Standing in Co formation, My CO Cmdr, Called Me out along with my Sqd. Ldr, and ORDERED him to take me ASAP to the phone, Call home, And Verify that I was talking to My Mother!! She had contacted the RED Cross, Oh Boy, I NEVER put my Mother through that again!! Enjoyed your comments, Take Care Kat

              •  That was a good CO you had :) (0+ / 0-)

                I have extra admiration for military families who went through basic training and deployments in the pre-internet/cell phone days. My son isn't among the best when it comes to communication, but at least I can see the green dot on FB or see how long it's been since he was on and know that he's safe. Especially at that time with Beirut going on, oh man, your poor mom--glad you learned your lesson! My biggest challenge at the moment is getting my son to send pictures--I've asked a billion times and finally he sent me one. Of his bare feet. All bloodied and bruised. Apparently he thought that was funny. Me, not so much.

  •  The whole "Thank you for your service" thing (11+ / 0-)

    As a Canadian, that phrase often sounds disingenuous to me. Don't get me wrong, I know that many people respect and admire those in the armed services, and that's a good thing. But what comes out of the mouths of so many seems so much by rote, so much a required statement, that it comes off as disrespectful.

    There are some who can be counted upon, whenever encountering a uniform, or someone saying they once wore the uniform, to say automatically "Thank you for your service". Almost under their breath, almost without thinking. Do other people not deserve thanks for what they do? If you really mean it, and you live your life by giving respect, then fine. But if you are just repeating rote words, as so many do, it becomes meaningless. Even degrading.

    The more I think about it, the more I hate that phrase, and other such slogans.

    "He is Joe McCarthy, he is bad news ... I hope Mr. Cruz does not have a nice weekend." - Chris Matthews

    by lotac on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:34:07 AM PDT

    •  I never... (11+ / 0-)

      ...know how to respond to the thank you (to me it was a job). I think the only worse thing I hear is "I wish I would/could have served."

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:37:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At a town hall meeting of my senator (12+ / 0-)

      He thanked me for my service. My reply; "Don't thank me for killing people."

      "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

      by BOHICA on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I rarely use the phrase. We don't have a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, lotac

      universal draft in the United States, every soldier is a volunteer. It's a job. Just like the politicians who wage the wars are just doing a job.

      Every time a veteran whines, I want to remind them they volunteered for it.

      Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

      by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:52:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I abhor the phrase becoming obligatory (0+ / 0-)

        and other similar jingoistic platitudes that have become largely meaningless, and which often seem uttered to push an agenda that supports imperialism and the MIC more than our relatives and friends that actually have to fight wars that too frequently seem unnecessary, optional or unduly protracted. Those who really support our troops are the ones extremely reluctant to send them off to war in the first place, and those looking to end fighting and anxious to bring them home again as soon as feasibly possible. And supporting our troops means we have an obligation to treating their combat-related conditions and injuries in a timely manner as best we can, and having effective programs that help them assimilate back into society as productive members.

        That said, I disagree that being a volunteer in the armed forces is just a job. Serving your country to be the first line defense and putting your life potentially on the line is more than just a normal job. It can be far more hazardous than being a firefighter or police officer, and armed service personnel should command similar respect. Of course, many personnel serve in support roles that do not experience anywhere near the same level of hazards as those functioning in combat roles, and I do think there is merit to making some distinctions along those lines.

        I think there is also a distinction between those who join for altruistic reasons out of a sense of patriotic duty, and those who volunteer for mainly selfish reasons and/or out of economic necessity. But that isn't a judgment others should be making, anyway, given that usually it is only the volunteers themselves who can distinguish their true motive.

        Back to the flip side, all things considered, it seems to me most of our troops are fairly well compensated as far as basic pay, even if I don't agree with the recent cut to pensions and think more needs to be done in some other areas for them. And as a former member of the armed forces, I have little patience for current or former fellow armed service personnel who constantly feel the need to remind others of the fact, demand respect for themselves, or hold out their opinions as superior merely because of their service. It also seems misguided to suppose that our military is what makes us strong, as a reliance on force is a sign of weakness. It should be honored that all of our citizens play a role in making and keeping us strong.

        It needs to be more widely recognized that we are spending far too much on our military budget, and measures are urgently required to rein in the corrupting influence of the MIC. The threat from terrorism, while real, has nevertheless been blown entirely out of proportion. The truth is that we haven't faced any serious threat against us since the collapse of the Soviet Union (which I thought was also overblown), and our practice of spending as much on our military as the next 16-19 nations combined is inefficient, unsustainable, and unwise. At any rate, the military is an unwieldy tool to be employing against terrorism in my view. Such use should be restricted to a means of last resort, as I fear our overreliance on it has been counter-productive.

  •  There's a difference... (11+ / 0-)

    ...between volunteering to serve your country and volunteering to serve some politician's ego.  The latter is what brought about the war in Iraq: Darth Chickenhawk wanted to be seen as a warrior instead of a self-centered jerk with five deferments.  Shrub wanted to prove to his daddy that he wasn't the alcoholic screw-up he'd been all his life.

    Same with Vietnam: LBJ was in Congress when Joe McCarthy was.  He prolonged the war because to end it would have "proved" he was soft on communism.  

  •  I do thank you for your service (5+ / 0-)

    I've always had gratitude for those who serve, whether in wartime or not.

    Of course, I agree with you that that gratitude must extend to transitioning back to civilian life.

  •  Remind me again why we need a NEW strike bomber. (5+ / 0-)

    “Bombers can send messages. They can influence or initiate action, and they are credible because of what they have done in the past,” [Lt Gen Burton] Field said, specifically citing events last year when a B-2 bomber flew near North Korea and a B-52 was flown through China’s new air defense zone. “Bombers can send messages fast, and they send messages with credibility.”

    This appears to be the main USAF argument for needing a NEW long range strike bomber at over $550 million per copy - sending messages!

  •  completely agree (4+ / 0-)

    the greatest hypocrisy of Republicans has always been how they mouth support for the troops, except for when they get out. Absolutely more needs to be done.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:42:51 AM PDT

  •  When people say "thank you for (7+ / 0-)

    your service," I use it as an opportunity to remind people to vote. I usually say something like "Glad I served. And you thank us every time you vote, because lots of veterans died to preserve your right to vote."  If there's time, I'll ask them if they had a relative that served, and how they're doing about getting their benefits. I keep my veterans service officer's number handy, and pass it along if the person might need it. If I can get another person to vote, and/or help reach out to a veteran in need, to me that's a successful encounter.

  •  Recommended... (10+ / 0-)

    The truth is that a lot of things need to be separated out and clarified (not by you, you did well, Mark, but for those who lump things together uncomfortably).

    1. Service to the country is something to be celebrated, but not by platitudes, but by a return-the-favor job with training, benefits and, if everything is equal, some loyalty beyond "what have you done for me lately" from the CEO or local manager.

    2. This nonsense of "non-transferrable skills" is honestly a lie (not by you, but by every single HR person who is either forced to say that or thinks its true or OK to say) and your being able to execute orders under less than civilian conditions is clearly a skill and an accomplishment.

    3. Troops need to be paid better and cared for better, regardless of what drill instructors, recruiters, military policy makers and politicians say. Obviously there has to be training and debriefing before, during and after one's military experience, and sadly good debriefing and celebration after the fact.

    4. The problem comes up when anti-war protesters lump soldiers/sailors/marines/enlisted together with the MIC and their paid-off politicians and corporate shills. The people on the ground are not responsible for unethical "police actions" and "un-ending wars". And blaming those on the ground, regardless of how well or how badly they acted while they are overseas is wrong. But of course this confusion and lumping together happens with the military, government, local government, and even with companies that exploit their employees.

    5. Transition to Civilian Life. Without a doubt, if they can spend so much on everything else, they can spend some time getting folks back to civilian life, to make a great life and to get past all the bad things while away.

    Again, I can't say much more than this, but we need to rethink the whole trajectory from recruitment to back to civilian life. No question.


    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by unclebucky on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:43:34 AM PDT

  •  There is NO civilian equivalent for this job (13+ / 0-)

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:43:50 AM PDT

  •  Most of our elected officials who say they (10+ / 0-)

    support the troops are really saying they support the defense contractors.

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.

    by Renie57 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:44:09 AM PDT

  •  I try to tell veterans to take care of themselves (14+ / 0-)

    I suggest to them that they start going to the VA immediately to be a part of the healthcare system.  I tell them to make sure that they describe in detail if they were ever injured or sick to make sure that is a part of their records as problems come later when you are a veteran and if there is no record of issues that happened to you, then you are screwed.  

    Yeah, in a way we all volunteered.  Even if we were drafted or volunteered for the draft, we went and we served.  I will say this though, when I was in, we had one tour.  We did not go back again and again to the same hell.  Those that serve now should be paid a professional wage for the job they do.  We can do without some of the bells and whistles that the military industrial complex wants to make money on.  Those that do the heavy lifting should be paid for their service as a professional.

  •  The endless wars we have been fighting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Wizard, ceebee7, tommymet

    in the last decade has us in a militaristic mode which frankly I find disgusting. Our fetishization of the military would make Kaiser Wilhelm blush.

    The fact of the matter is you DID volunteer. You say so in the diary. So did my brother in law who DID see combat and is totally and probably irreparably fucked up.

    I agree that we should treat our veterans better and pay our soldiers more. Cutting veterans benefits is a disgrace. The VA is a mess. I don't know about any of you, but I am war weary, and feel like many of us have forgotten that the two wars we fought in the last decade-plus needn't have been fought. The people who waged them have not been held accountable. These are the people who have abused our soldiers. And the President of the United States, in his first inaugural address, told us to forget it ever happened. Talk about fucked up.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:48:19 AM PDT

  •  My idea of supporting the troops (5+ / 0-)

    is not to use them as cannon fodder in the seemingly endless string of predatory resource wars, and to ensure their success in civilian life if or when they become civilians.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:48:52 AM PDT

  •  When I was a small business employer (7+ / 0-)

    and I interviewed a young vet, I looked for and expected an ability to: learn, follow instructions, be disciplined and be committed.  It didn't always work out, but mostly it did.

    I assumed that I would have to teach many of the specific skills that applied to my business.

    I was baffled that most of the business owners I knew didn't see it the same way.

  •  Camp Lejeune (13+ / 0-)

    I live next to Camp Lejeune -- where they are doing an unbelievable amount of building on base.  Yet, all of the construction is done by outside contractors--wouldn't it be beneficial, for military training, economically, and for skills learned, that this be done by recruits?  There are jobs for plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, welders, etc. and our soldiers should be trained for them.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:52:04 AM PDT

    •  There are federal laws (0+ / 0-)

      that prohibit service members from doing work that a civilian could be hired to do, in the United States. And, in many of our foreign bases, the Status of Forces Agreement limits the civilian type work the troops can do there, too.

      The DOD spends an inordinate amount of money doing things civilians do. After all, each base is the equivalent of a small town or city, so there are buildings and roads to build and maintain, offices with clerks and secretaries, shops to stock and run, restaurants and grocery stores, movie theaters and night clubs.

      But with minor exceptions, troops are not allowed, by law, to do any of that work.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:32:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  so (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Let's change the law!

        Actions speak louder than petitions.

        by melvynny on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:06:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  These laws are strongly supported (0+ / 0-)

          by various unions, who don't want their members competing with 'force account' work. Military payroll is a 'sunk cost', in other words, the troops get paid whether they are training, fixing vehicles, building runways, in a firefight, out on patrol or just sitting on their butts waiting for some higher up to figure out the plan of the day.

          In effect, military labor is 'free' as far as additional cost to the military goes. This is not something anyone with union employees wants to bid against to get some business from the local military base.

          I'm not saying don't change the law. I'm just saying it isn't as straightforward as some might think.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:50:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  saying (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not saying we should change the law to save money, I'm saying change the law to train soldiers for a life outside of the service.

            Actions speak louder than petitions.

            by melvynny on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:18:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  job training (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              In 1967 I "suffered" a million dollar wound and was transferred to the medical corps. The civilians working along side me were better trained and paid $7,200 a year. At that time it cost $25, 000 a year to keep me in uniform. There isn't an accountant alive that can explain all the reasons for that but one hint: Why do we have more admirals that we have ships?

  •  Diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, AJayne
    I am proud of my service to my country; however, I do not need to be thanked for it.
    I graduated high school in 1979 , there were quite a few  of people I knew who served in Vietnam , in the early 80's I felt compelled to acknowledge them because people just wanted all that to go away , and these people were kind of swept under the rug along with the whole subject

    Also , my father and many uncles served in Korea , the forgotten war , after listening to his inside perspective on the subject , I also acknowledged these folks when it was proper and respectful

    2014 , my niece got married to an Iraq war vet , I was informed he quit the army because he did not want to serve under a ni@@er president

    IMO there is a line that can be crossed where this can become an act of " worshiping " war , and an obsessed military attitude , this is not not very healthy for any nation , especially with the bloated size of our military budget  

    Active honest citizens for justice are just as important as those who are willing to serve in the military , I have decided to start thanking them for a while , I have been advocating for America to stop being a war monger nation my whole life  

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

    by Patango on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:52:34 AM PDT

  •  I lead a small vets support group where I live (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Patango, mjbleo, Orinoco, AJayne

    and we work on undoing the effects of our service.

    But we (and I especially) will always remember fondly
    the guys we were in with, some of whom made it more

    One of my buddies I served with now has prostate cancer
    and is currently stable. I'll visit him soon. He was so important to me then, this nerdy engineering guy!

    I'm totally dependent on my VA healthcare now. My wife and I couldn't afford anything else.

    Vets, get help!

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 09:53:51 AM PDT

  •  As With Everything About the US Military, "Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, BOHICA, The Wizard

    for your service" has nothing to do with you the troops and vets, nor America's national interests nor our values.

    It's a weak innoculation against so powerful a perception of security weakness of Democrats that appointing a Democratic Secretary of Defense has become almost unthinkable.

    This is one of 2 or 3 subjects I refuse to comment further on because of the threats that history has shown are posed by awareness of observations such as mine.

    Yes, looking at the economy of the volunteer pool as well as of the discharged veterans, "volunteer" indeed.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:00:04 AM PDT

  •  "Thank you for your service" (5+ / 0-)

    A sure sign that the speaker is not a veteran.

  •  I tip my BDU cap to the Peace Corps (6+ / 0-)

    There's a bunch of people, working in tough conditions, who are way under-thanked.  This is one G.I. who appreciates them.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:02:16 AM PDT

  •  This diary mirrors my own experiences (4+ / 0-)

    But I would take it a bit further by asking a simple question:

    Since WW2 has been over for nearly 60 years, why in hell do we need bases in Okinawa, Sigonella, Germany, England, etc? Wasn't all of our obscenely expensive technology supposed to make places like these obsolete?

    And as far as hardware is concerned, isn't 15 billion dollars a bit much to pay for a Ford class aircraft carrier that was an obsolete weapon before it even slid down the ways? Everyone except the politicians who authorized it don't want the F35 because the damned thing is a high tech flying coffin.

    All it takes to deal with a direct threat from an adversary is a simple command of authorization to COMSUBPAC or COMSUBLANT and the adversary is history. If all those wasteful, archaic weapons systems are eliminated, the service personnel who actually do serve could receive living compensation.

    I agree - don't thank me for my service. The best way to thank anyone for their service is to take care of them.

  •  The diarist misses the point in a big way (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Wizard, jrfrog, ceebee7, No Exit

    I too served in the military, and it helped me through some really tough years. But I regret it and tell my kids that I loathe the idea of them joining.

    It has to do with the fact that our military is not a defensive force. With the possible exception of one or two major wars, it's been mostly used assert American supremacy.

    Think about it: in your lifetime, can you name a honorable war Americans have fought? Keep in mind what war is all about: it's (mostly) daddies killing other kids daddies. So far as I'm concerned, you need a pretty damned good reason to justify that.

    Yet time and time again, we go to war to protect and expand the power of American elites. We send poor off to die for the rich. We kill innocent people for the benefit of the guilty.

    And then we say military service is honorable and we should support the troops?

    Have they no agency? Can't they figure out everything I've written here? If they have figured that out and join anyway, doesn't that make them, dare I say... evil? And if they haven't figured it out, but instead joined for the same reason I joined (college money) or because so many people told them that military service was so wonderful, then aren't they - at best - negligently ignorant? I mean, think about it - they are signing up for the fucking military... They had to know at least this much: That there was a strong likelihood that they'd be asked to kill someone. With that the case, is the decision to join something you make as cavalierly as I did? I mean, what do you say to the Iraqi widow (and kids) whose husband you killed at a checkpoint?

    "I needed the college money..."

    "Military service is honorable..."

    "Everyone supports the troops..."

    None of that would work for me.

    Let me sum up here:

    1. When you join the military, you are signing up to kill people.
    2. The vast majority of times our military has been ordered to kill, it's been for, at best, no good reason. More often, the reasons have been evil.
    3. when we mouth platitudes that support the troops, we are tacitly supporting the militarized, authority-bowing culture we've been trained to support. And we need to stop it.

    I understand this comment will be inflammatory and upsetting to many of you. I just ask that you do your best to specifically point to where it is wrong before troll-rating.

    •  You are right ... but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The responsibility for killing people in an unjust war falls on the civilian leadership. The military is doing what they are paid to do, make war when told to.

      The fault lies with the civilian, political leadership. Bush and Cheney should be tried for war crimes, but this will never happen. They caused the death of thousands of US and Allied soldiers, more US citizens than Osama could hope to, and wreaked death and destruction on the People of Iraq.

      Yet they got away with war crimes.

      The result of this is that the next generation of civilian leaders will make war without fear of personal consequences.

      I think that we also have a problem with Veterans being reluctant to hold their CIC responsible. One of the built-in advantages of making war is that it becomes unpatriotic to criticize the leadership. This is exactly what veterans should be doing, as they are the only ones that really understand the consequences of the order to go to war.

      Ironically, the major excuse for going to war is to hold some leader responsible. This is exactly what never happens to those who make the decision to go to war.

    •  I'd cautiously agree with this with the (0+ / 0-)

      following caveat: I live in the SF Bay Area, and have since 1956.  I am unaware except through information posted on the web of what it's like to grow up in a red state, more pointedly in, for example, a very poor county in a very poor southern red state.  Even in the Bay Area, many minorities, seeing the absence of economic opportunities, see enlistment as a "way out," and a ladder to future economic opportunity (such as the diarist).  

      When such a person (as the diarist, for example) leaves the service and returns home to, for example, Mississippi, is he or she, upon experiencing what the diarist describes, likely to register as a Democrat and become involved trying to effect political change?

      Also, I'd strongly disagree with this commenter's definition of people who may be slower on the uptake as "evil."  I'd say "misinformed" and/or "naive."  With information as available as it is today, there is IMO little justification for sustained political ignorance, if one is at all open-minded, and I'd suggest that the diarist's personal experiences have opened his mind, at least compared to his earlier expectations and beliefs, altho one's acting upon a newly-opened mind may involve taking very unpopular political positions within a given community.

      "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

      by ceebee7 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:46:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  unjust wars (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In Henry V Shakespeare explains the situation of a soldier: If the cause is just the battle must be fought, if unjust it is the king that must answer. In 1967 I killed people, people that did not need to be killed. I did it at the bidding of King Lyndon. I am often thanked, thanked when what I need is forgiveness. Be merciful to our young killers, all of them.

  •  The Flag Was Dirty, Touching The Ground & Ripped.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye54, AJayne, swampyankee, Aquarius40

    We went to a Tea Party rally.  They were all there waving giant flags & "Don't Tread On Me" banners.  Their signs
    called the President, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid dictators.

    Two younger guys were dragging a US flag in the mud while they were screaming about how much the Dems don't support the troops.  Neither do they.  The troops & the flag are just their props.    

  •  Honest question here--what can we say? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, AJayne, bearsguy

    My son also hates the "thank you for your service" platitudes, but since he's joined the Marines I've developed a much deeper and personal appreciation for the sacrifices our troops and their families make, and now when I see someone in uniform I find myself wanting to express my appreciation. I'm involved with a number of organizations that support active duty troops, veterans, and military families, so I do try to more than just mouth platitudes, but what would be a respectful and meaningful way to express genuine appreciation? Or is it better to say nothing? Part of the dilemma for me is that cammies trigger a pavlovian response in me as a military mom and I also have to fight the urge to go give them a hug :)

  •  Best article yet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen

    You are so correct.  My husband and 2 sons served.  Both sons were in the Middle East at the same time and one received in jury's that are covered with a paltry 20%.  He has some severe injuries and stopped fighting for them because of all the run around.  We are great about falsifying how well we take care of our troops.  We've built up this mental image thanks to politicians giving us false info.  You are correct when you say they do not teach marketable skills.  What's worse is that they must live so poorly with their family's suffering from inferior housing,applying for food stamps and be taken over the coals by lending predators.  Notice how political leaders are blind to this?  They use them like disposable diapers.  I heard of one church group that goes to help the poor all over the world,one year they went to Ft. Drum,N.Y. All these bases for the enlisted are not in top shape.  The officer have it better once they reach Major but the rest are just shuffled into mediocre housing.  I feel sorry for the enlisted as they are not treated well and can just about get by.  We are too busy letting our oligarchs get away with it.  We really do not make a big deal of them sacrificing so much to protect us.  How many wealthy care about those who serve us?  When was the last time our Congress did something for them?  It's sad that there is not more done for them and their family's. Our politicians only care for their pockets,they are the hidden oligarchs that they so despise in other country's?help our soldiers!not the wealthy. We do not need more military toys.

  •  The Democrats should introduce a bill in Congress (0+ / 0-)

    calling for ALL subsidies to Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma, and the Big Banks be eliminated and the money diverted to providing increased salary and benefits for lower enlisted soldiers(E-6 and below). Then we'll REALLY see who supports the troops.

    •  The democrats will do nothing to upset their base (0+ / 0-)

      The 1%

      If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

      by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:51:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regarding thanking someone for their service.... (4+ / 0-)

    My son shakes the hand of every uniformed person he sees, military active duty or veteran, law enforcement, fire fighting, and thanks them for their service. He is almost always thanked back, told that the thanks is appreciated--and rare--he even thanks people who have family in the service. And most are surprised and pleased, given his age, that he bothers.

    He's not a cute little kid mimicking behavior, he's 17 and seriously considering the military.

    While I don't agree with most of his current views (he's everything I'm not at the moment) and sincerely hope he doesn't enlist, I never imagined that he was making anyone uncomfortable by offering up a handshake and a thanks.

    After reading this thread, I feel I should advise him to quit shaking hands. Maybe it's a crap shoot and it's fine depending on who he approaches

    He does make regular donations to orgs like The Wounded Warriors Project and the USO, and last spring did a walk to raise funds for suicide awareness--spending the whole walk with a person from the army who he happened to approach and thank.

    So he's also walking his talk, but not everyone he thanks knows about those small efforts on his part.

    •  Some vets like it... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizaveta, Aquarius40, kat herder

      ...some don't. It has always made me somewhat uncomfortable. But that is just me. I cannot speak for all vets. I have just never known what to say in response. As I said in a previous comment I love it when someone asks me where I was stationed and what I did while there.

      I got to speak to my son's Social Studies class last year as a guest speaker. I spoke about my time in Germany and what it was like to be on the border of a then divided country. Being asked to do that meant more to me than all of the thank you's in the world.

      I lived and served in a place most people could never imagine - and I got to share that knowledge and experience that day.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:48:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Regarding thanking someone for their service (0+ / 0-)

          His donations are a good idea and you might remind yourself that it is not necessary for everyone to know about those efforts for them to be worthwhile.

  •  The most important skills you learned weren't (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, bearsguy, kat herder

    occupational skills. It's not just about the discipline, but the can do, it's your responsibility to find the solution, you work well with whomever you're paired (no matter their race, creed, background and sexual orientation). Those are the pieces that are, to me, the most important skills that come with service. And we should be trumpeting those as just as important for successful careers and citizenship. That's not to say all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are perfect models; we're all human, but each member who served honorably showed they had the ability to be part of a team.

    •  Yes, the teamwork is a critical skill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      One that you can't survive in the military without. And taking responsibility as well, not just for getting the job done but for learning the importance of owning it when you screw up. That's certainly been a remarkable transformation that I've seen in my son since he became a Marine.

  •  My dad was a career soldier, WWII and Korea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ceebee7, kat herder

    Three of my brothers also served in various branches during non-conflict times. None of them ever spoke to me directly about wanting or needing more from the military than they got (in any way), so hearing of the chasm between compensation and livability was news to me in the early 2000s.

    (When I was young, I did watch my parents be very careful with money, but I thought that was just the way to handle money; it didn't occur to me that others didn't live that way.)

    The difficulties I saw with those I knew in the military was being separated from family, sometimes immediate family, almost always extended family, and being instructed by those in power to perform duties in ways that made little sense to them - and, of course, they followed orders because that's what they were charged with doing - even tho it often made the job take longer or required it be redone at a later time.

    All of my brothers used the GI bill to get a college degree, and each of them became a manager in his chosen industry, determined to be sensible with the power that gave them.

    We were fortunate that the war injuries my dad sustained were minimal, and none of my brothers were injured at all. I can only imagine the anguish of the many soldiers and their families dealing with injuries now, and I agree that we should not only pay our military personnel better but should also provide the medical and psychology care they need upon coming home, as well as provide real assistance with the transition back to civilian life.

    I think thanking veterans for their service became a more common practice after Vietnam when many of us began to understand the shabby way returning members of the military were being treated then - as if they deserved nothing but derision for going to Nam instead of to Canada - by so many.

    When I thank someone for serving in the armed forces, I am trying to express my very real gratitude. That person was willing to defend this country, with her/his life if needed. Yes, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were needless conflicts (as was Nam), but that individual service member did not start any of them. I will always be grateful for that person's willingness to defend us, to defend me, even knowing s/he could lose her/his life in the process.

    I do also vote and communicate with elected representatives, stating my support for veteran benefits, job placement assistance, etc. - even tho they seem not to listen.

    •  This is an extremely important (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I think thanking veterans for their service became a more common practice after Vietnam when many of us began to understand the shabby way returning members of the military were being treated then - as if they deserved nothing but derision for going to Nam instead of to Canada - by so many.
      and timely point.  I'd go so far as to assert this one thought is in a major way responsible for the massively common and prevailing current "support of the troops," at least among people who remember the end of the Viet Nam war and how returning vets were mostly treated -- and I was among them.  I didn't spit on anybody, but I was certainly not supportive (of course, this was before blogs, etc. -- letters to the editor was the primary avenue available to the public for political expressions of opinion).

      I believe there is to some extent a national shame on the part of those who were around in 1974.  I think the huge number of Viet Nam vets who have experienced "social" problems can be directly attributed to their post-service treatment.

      "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

      by ceebee7 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:57:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Military should be paid more and recognized (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for the professionals that they are indeed!

    Believe it or not this is an age old problem when a nation maintains order with large military forces and makes policy at the tip of a spear.

    Romans did the same thing.  Phillip and Alexander of Macedonia had to take complaints from troops about the same thruout the empire.  Akexander ceaselessly complained about the troops he had to abandon  and cut loose back home with little to occupy their time or inclinations.

    It is not the specific process here that is the problem, it is the way (makes policy at the tip of a spear.)mankind seems to do things.

  •  What does "support the troops" mean? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a propaganda slogan that the Bush administration invented.  People who didn't support an unnecessary war that led to the death, disability, and disfigurement of thousands of military personnel were accused of not "supporting the troops".

    That's why I almost never refer to military personnel as "troops".

    I support better pay and vastly superior veteran's benefits for enlisted military personnel.  Officers are doing okay.  I also oppose laying off military personnel.

    Other than that, I would like to see the military budget shrink, and see the military used SOLELY to defend the United States, and not for international adventurism.

    However, with the Democrats still locked in "it's always 1988 and we have to try to be as regressive as possible" syndrome, and the Republicans in the end stages of rabid right wing insanity, both parties disagree with me.

  •  I agree entirely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jack 1966, ceebee7

    but want to make an additional point.

    Let's also support the troops by making sure that when we put them in harms way, we the American people, are not simply responding to propaganda about "domino theiories" and "aluminum tubes".  Let's not let ourselves get panicked into more foolish conflicts.


    In that vein, count on me for contributions to vet organizations.  But count me out if you want to claim the Iraq invasion was executed to protect American freedom.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:20:11 AM PDT

  •  Trade Unions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ceebee7, kat herder, bearsguy, AJayne

    Many trade unions around the country want vets to apply. We even have goals for recruitment into the apprenticeship. They need our support and hopefully we'll train them in the last career they'll ever need. Plus, we already know all about brotherhood.

  •  my piece many years..... (0+ / 0-)

    Tio Sam wants Hispanics – go to war and assimilate

  •  The fact that they volunteered means we owe them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat herder

    MORE not less, because they chose to risk their lives and sacrifice time spent with loved ones to serve our country.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:58:32 AM PDT

    •  They are not serving the country... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gregory Wonderwheel

      They are serving the 1%

      If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

      by No Exit on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 02:54:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just wrote a diary about enlisted pay (0+ / 0-)

    And I reached somewhat different conclusions.

    I'm also, as a result, of doing the research to write this piece, becoming skeptical of the Food Stamp issue. As near as I can tell from the primary data in the diary you linked in your piece, that's "Food Stamps redeemed at Commissaries" rather than "Active Duty military families actually on Food Stamps". Retirees, veterans, and reservists could account for much of that figure.

    •  A few big things you are missing in your diary... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AJayne, Toprow what are those service members paying for rent, transportation, food, and childcare.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:14:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps, but.. (0+ / 0-)

        .. I did cite an assumption as to rent (i.e., equal to BAH), and assumed no income for the spouse, so childcare would be under a "stay at home mom" situation. I agree that the costs of rent, food, transportation, and childcare are not zero. I don't see any compelling reason to assume that they differ significantly from anyone else in the military, though.

  •  Education should be for everyone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit, Gregory Wonderwheel, Toprow

    As for higher education, you shouldn't have to spend four years in the military to get it - or partial support for it.  There used to be public colleges, but people evidently prefer lower taxes for rich people.

    If we're going to have a professional military, it shouldn't be large enough to allow major aggression like Iraq on the decision of the President.  Then pay could be high and the force really elite.

  •  Just wondering... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gregory Wonderwheel

    if there is any information on the party registration of vets...  One supposes that most active military are registered Republicans, but that is pure (somewhat informed) speculation on my part.  To the diarist's points -- I'd like to see reliable stats on the party registration of vets who have finished their service, through meeting their requirements, retirement, or whatever might be defined as "other"...

    Stated otherwise, does the diarist (and his brethren) recognize that -- at least for the past several years -- legislation to improve the lot of the veteran has been initiated, well-sponsored, etc. primarily by Democrats while at the same time most of such legislation has been routinely killed by Republicans?  At least, that's my impression and I'm a pretty astute observer of political activity.

    Do most veterans vote?  Are most veterans actively politically engaged in making the changes (which I actively support) spoken of by the diarist?

    "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

    by ceebee7 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:26:52 PM PDT

  •  Veterans well-being takes a step backwards... (0+ / 0-)

    ...every time the word "hero" is used.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:33:01 PM PDT

  •  I knew before you enlisted (0+ / 0-)

    that you'd be treated that way when you got out.  I hope you spend your years working to make the changes necessary.  Keep me posted.  I'll sign anything you need.  Thanks for speaking out.  You make me proud to be an American.

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -Unk

  •  Exlistment training. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Toprow, Theoleman

    Sad to read this and no mention of the brainwashing chanting "kill, kill, kill" during boot camp basic training to turn regular people into killing machines.

    Untraining in that killing mentality is the most important but unsupplied debriefing needed by veterans. Every veteran should receive exlistment training in compassion every bit as rigorous as the enlistment training in killing.

    "The owners of this country know the truth: its called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." ~ George Carlin

    by Gregory Wonderwheel on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 10:53:07 AM PDT

  •  support what? (0+ / 0-)

    Support the troops, not the mission. Bring the troops home NOW!

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MerriAnnie, SilentBrook

    My circumstances sound like a mirror image of Mr. Andersen's. I served in the Air Force during Viet Nam.  My military skills did find me employment in the civilian world. And when the retention NCO came around, sure enough he said  " you won't find a job out there". He was wrong. I so wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Andersen that we need to reclaim a majority of the Pentagon's budget, and properly compensate our enlisted troops. We don't need to waste our tax dollars on a new foolish airplane or ship. We shouldn't be bankrolling mercenary forces here and there. We should castrate the military/industrial complex. NO COST OVERRUNS ALLOWED. If Boeing bid the job for $100million, that's all they get. And if they think to cut corners, we put them out of business. The clowns in Washington from both parties, that bankroll this tomfoolery need to be censured. They work for US, not corporate America. Our troops and vets deserve a living commensurate with the sacrife they have made on our behalfs.

  •  I support the troops - but they did volunteer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is the most stupid and most brainless comment I every read.

  •  Why, oh why, does this fall on deaf ears? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know.

    But it does. Nobody cares. I've heard it said that we do not need to make any changes until it begins affecting the number of people who volunteer and the quality of the volunteer, meaning that they CAN put their boots on the ground and do the job.

    This mindset says that, once we begin to see that nobody is volunteering, THEN we offer more incentive. Hey, just like a lot of businesses in the country do. Pay as little as they can to the youngsters who'll take any job to make a few bucks for the movies.

    But today we don't value our volunteers for a number of excuses. They're not good people, anymore (meaning they're too poor and usually black is what I hear). They're just lackeys and they should feel lucky to have any job considering their unfitness for real work. And I've even heard a comment that this way we put the least valuable people out there on the front lines to get killed, and it solves two problems. That statement got me into an argument that ended in me saying, "You.... you... you.... bastard!"

    Listen, we can whine. We can bitch. We can plead. Nothing is going to change.

    This country is going down, baby. Just about 50% of the voters in this country believe just as I said above. We don't have enough time to change that many minds. We are going to be a third world country before we are able to change the hearts and minds of Americans.

    And to show you how bad it is: When our all volunteer military finally wises up and stops volunteering, they'll just reinstate the draft, but they won't revise their thinking about the value of the men and women in the service. It has become ingrained in their minds.

    I remember in 1960 when a pretty sharp young white man I knew got drafted. His new wife, also smart and attractive and white, was seriously bummed that they'd call HIM. He had such a good future. He didn't hang around on street corners. Go get the bums off the street, she said. The recruiter told her that the military didn't want the bum off the street. They wanted men like her husband.

    Somewhere down the line we went all apeshit. I think it was when we decided we needed to cut taxes on the rich, and keep our upper class kids at home where it was safe. We cut the draft and we cut our opinions of the kids who volunteered.

  •  Something important we lost when draft ended... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    One of the things I often hear about soldiers currently serving is, "Well, they volunteered,"
    ...Something important we lost when the military draft ended in 1973 was the brake on reckless military adventurism that placing every family's sons at-risk of potentially serving in combat created.  Even though there were several potential escape routes available for more affluent or influential families' sons (right Dick Cheney? right George W. Bush?) - it was still unaviodable for every family's sones that you at least DID have to put forth the effort (and/or call in a favor or connections) to craft an acceptable way around making the boy vulnerable to combat service.  Such as Will, my connected neighbor growing up, who served in the Coast Guard.

    To be sure, the existence of the draft did not inhibit us from our escalating involvement in Vietnam, at least not until the public began to awake from the residual unquestioning gung-ho our country-is-right patriotism from World War 2 and the Cold War, and began realizing how much of a mistake and fiasco the venture actually was.  

  •  Support the Troops? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Surely anyone serving in the armed forces should be treated well both in and after their service. However, I can't in good conscience support those who kill people in foreign countries in wars for profit. This is morally repugnant, both for those who are killed, injured, droned, terrorized and displaced, and for all those who do commit these heinous acts.

  •  Well said (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Andersen.

  •  What is needed ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is to make America aware that the military is a scam. Take religion out of the military, it doesn't belong, religion and killing do not go together and has no place there, is hypocritical and nothing more than a brainwashing tool for the military.
     Yes, stop wasting our tax dollars enriching and defending the military complex and corporations, all the while criminalizing and not helping the majority of our own citizens. The military is the largest US socialist program and most of that money goes the war profiteers and corporate pockets. Yes, the military is a scam, spend our tax dollars on our people, not war !

  •  keeping promises (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    The Continental Congress refused to redeem the scrip (IOU's) issued to our soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Screwing our soldiers is an American tradition of long standing. A lot of problems could be solved by prevention. Most of the problems our grunts have were challenges they should have been told about before it was too late. We need integrity in recruitment. Our lying army convinced me to volunteer for Infantry OCS when I was on a safe track to Special Services (athletics). Enlistment documents in a volunteer army should be subject to basic contract law, especially fraud in the inducement. Maybe we should provide every prospect with a lawyer. By now we should know how to identify people prone to PTSD. I've heard that the average age of a combat soldier in WWII was in the late twenties, in Korea in the middle twenties. In Vietnam it was nineteen. Do I have to explain the problems with that? When we send teenagers to war we are kissing them off. They have been deemed expendable. As evidence I offer the fact that there is so much that we know how to do that we are not doing.

    •  Thanks for your first comment, lelapierre. (0+ / 0-)

      That's a pretty frightening account of your experience. I agree the armed services should be held to a higher standard than that when recruiting, especially considering the ages of the people they typically deal with.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

      by belinda ridgewood on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:28:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Keeping promises (0+ / 0-)

           If you were smart enough to be a candidate for OCS, you
      were smart enough to know that you were joining the military
      and the primary job of the military is to kill our enemies.
       You should be smart enough now to know that if
      the army had decided they needed you to be cannon fodder rather than "Special Services-athletics", you would have become cannon fodder.

      I am all for keeping promises to veterans and treating service members well. I am against supporting delusions that there is guaranteed safe jobs in the military.

  •  We need a universal draft (0+ / 0-)

    When everyone has something at stake, we will have less wars, and better-paid soldiers.

    The Wanderer, from somewhere over the Pacific...

    by Wanderer1961 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:07:34 PM PDT

  •  Thanking you... Why I do it (0+ / 0-)

    You say it makes you uncomfortable to thanked for your service. I wouldn't intentionally make you, or anyone uncomfortable, but I feel I ought to explain myself. If I thank you or any serviceman for your service, it's because you have done something for my country and my own peace of mind that I simply couldn't have done myself. I try to be a realist, and the more I hear of military service, the more I realize I simply could not have performed most of the things that are asked of our military personnel, not even to save my own life. Not from lack of interest or lack of will - it's simply not in me. So if I say thank you for your service - even if all you did was file papers for 4 years - you've done something for me, personally, and deserve my thanks. Poor pay, but that and arguing loudly in support of our troops when I can are all I can offer.

  •  Support the Troops (0+ / 0-)

    I see a lot of quasi-smarmy support of the troops, which, I have to say, I wonder where it comes from-and if it is genuine in any way.  I recall the Rachel Maddow organized march for the Gulf War II troops.  I guess Vietnam Vets have missed out again.  Korea?  Forget about it!  The draft was in evidence which landed those men and women in harm's way.  Wars which began with little or no merit.  

    "This is our version of capitalism: a system of economic policies that benefit the extremely wealthy, and the rest survive as best they can."-- Chomsky

    by truthronin on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:35:31 PM PDT

  •  I supported them when they Did NOT volunteer (0+ / 0-)

    Many, many of the homeless in my county of Broward are in that state because of the aftermath of Viet Nam.  And, I might add, if we owe any generation of Vets, we owe them, because no one cared when they came home, because that War was not won; even with a Draft.

  •  The reference to the Canadian army (0+ / 0-)

    really struck a nerve.  I spent two mostly-happy summers as an officer cadet at Vimy Barracks in Kingston, Ontario while I was in college.  The esprit de corps then was very high.

    One major difference between the US and Canada which is so obvious that its consequences today are rarely considered:  Canada never had legalized slavery.  There are lots of racists in Canada, but the expectation that labor (spelled labour up there) should be free never took root as deeply as it has here.

    Soldiers like you, Mr. Anderson, are looked upon by the 1% as hardly different from workers at McDonald's and Walmart.  They have to use food stamps to feed their families, so why shouldn't you (is the attitude).  They will never say it out loud, as that would sound unpatriotic, but basically anyone who's not at least an NCO is just an expense to be minimized, like any other low-level worker.

    That $10,000 per soldier recruited is chump change compared to the costs that the Pentagon externalizes, in just the same way that corporations externalize their labor and environmental costs.  You may be one of the lucky ones in that you do not seem to have come back with PTSD or brain damage.  The VA's budget is totally inadequate to offset the actual costs of the wars we've sent our volunteer forces off to fight.  And of course any right-wing patriot will tell you it's all Obama's fault, because he didn't cut taxes on the rich sufficiently.

    So the $10,000 is just the cost of a replacement part, a fresh cog in the war machine.  I'll bet the defense industry, aka "military-industrial complex", wishes all the worn-out parts could just be shipped off to China like our techno-junk.  But you must admit they do a good job of keeping their stories out of the main-stream media, while we admire the spiffed-up troops and the dramatic fly-overs in the run-up to the Super Bowl.

    •  Oops, I said $10,000 (0+ / 0-)

      when you quoted $16,000.  But that doesn't change my assessment.  It's still chump  change compared to the costs the veterans are expected to bear after their tour of duty.

      It's cheaper to advertise throw-away products than to operate a recycling plant for the stuff your customers have left over.  And if those nasty environmentalists demand recycling, let anyone but industry pay for it!

      Bob Dylan said it best:  "Money doesn't talk, it swears!"

  •  Troop Support (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a thought(fact)...if you support the troops you are supporting the US Government...the largest terrorist group on the planet - militarily, financially and politically.
    I'll let you take the pondering from there...

  •  Yes, we do support our troops (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twocrows1023, MaryAskew

    until their service is up.  Then we toss them aside like so much rubbish.  We disgrace ourselves by our actions and by letting our elected officials get away with cutting/denying reasonable benefits and other assistance to our troops.

  •  The warmongers only pay lip service... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twocrows1023, SilentBrook

    ... to the people who they use to preempt any threat against their resources and means of production.  They do not care about soldiers as people and only want to spend money to get and keep them.  After they have served, they simply become one of the many useless mouths that suck off "their" resources and add nothing of value to them any longer.

    I realize how cynical that sounds.  It is unfortunately what I have grown, after many years of blind patriotism, to believe about my country and its Conservative power structure.

    Thus, they stockpile more military might in bombs and planes and technology than all the other countries on Earth combined.  They seek to keep education extremely expensive such that the military becomes one of only a limited number of options for a large percentage of people.  They wear flags on their lapels and crow loudly about "supporting and honoring our troops" while simultaneously fighting to keep them from decent Veteran's benefits, including physical and mental health care after they no longer sit on the tip of the spear.

    The sad thing is that so many of our fellow citizens listen to the speeches and watch the parades and believe that they really mean what they say.  They give their lives for these greedy bastards and give their votes to allow them to continue this assault on their own best interests.

  •  Reality: (0+ / 0-)
    In 2005 our military spent $16,000 to recruit one soldier. If we can spend that much money recruiting a soldier then why can't we spend some additional money preparing our troops for life in the civilian world?
    And the reason is: it's more important to boast the largest military in the world [equal to the next 16 nations combined] than to spend one thin dime on the people who make that possible.

    I've read a number of books on WWII.  Every one that looked at US troops from a European perspective remarked on how well-paid and well equipped they were compared to all those from Europe.
    During the Iraq war, otoh, our troops were supplied with plywood vehicles.  They had to scavenge sheet metal from dumps and jerry-rig it to the bodies of their "jeeps."  And heaven forbid they should be paid a living wage!

    How times have changed.

    I think it may be time to return to the early 1970's.  At that time there was a movie entitled, "What If They Gave A War And Nobody Came?"  Perhaps we should step up and not come.  Maybe that would shake some sense into Congress which decides what we will spend on our military.
    Or do we only get worked up about such things when there's a draft?

    The price of apathy is to be ruled by evil men - - Plato . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We must be the change we wish to see in the world - - Mohandas Gandhi

    by twocrows1023 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:50:50 PM PDT

  •  Service? Or military? (0+ / 0-)

    A "service" is something that provides a benefit. If I wash your car I've done you a service but if I dent your car I've done a disservice. Got it? Service has a positive connotation while "military" doesn't, at least not in my book.

    The military in WWII did their country a great service and are to be forever honored. A immense thank you, guys and gals. But since WWII the distinction between military and service has diverged.  Vietnam was the classic although Korea was somewhat the same, the soldiers were fighting but not for anything we needed as a nation. Thus, in my view, they were not providing a "service". Of course there were individual honorable acts - rescuing their fellow soldiers and so on - but that does not make their overall actions a "service". Thus they weren't, in my view, servicemen.

    Killing people different than ourselves, or breaking their stuff, is not a service. Not to us, not to anyone. We should be more careful not confusing the service with the military.

    The problem with history is that something happened the day before.

    by Theoleman on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:53:53 PM PDT

  •  Please explain to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    why I have to support people whose voluntary actions have allowed the US to engage in now three foolish and wasteful wars without Congressional approval?  It's not as if any of the foolishness in Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary or accomplished anything good.  But it was easy, because we had an army of volunteers ready to go. The voluntary army concept has been a large part of the militarization of the country, to the point where we are made to feel guilty if we don't automatically either salute or grovel in front of people who made their own decisions and now regret them.  I'm sorry things didn't work out for people who chose the military, but it really was your choice.  I'd say the best thing you could do is to speak up and encourage others not to do what you did.  Perhaps some day we will realize that we should call on our people to march and fight and die only when there is a damn good reason.  And when that time comes, we should have a no-exemptions draft, and if the public won't support a draft, then we don't go to war.

  •  Vet Benefits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    am a vet and became an MD after Vietnam.  During my 38 years of medical practice, I cared for many homeless Vets, deserted by the military and right wing who enticed the young, gullible people into the service with promises that were eventually empty.  Volunteer when our shores are threatened, but not for the Robber Barons that run the War Machine and Big Oil.

  •  And while we are at it we should pay for decent .. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    doctors to treat our veterans.  Currently at the Bend, OR, VA center, if you get to see your primary care doctor more than once every 6 months for 5 minutes, literally, you better be dying! And then you better hope that he is not afraid to be in a room with someone who has a cold or something worse, because you will be ignored completely as he flies out of the room without so much as a good bye.

    My husband recently had knee surgery at the Portland VA and there were complications as we were leaving the hospital.  We sat in the ER for over 5 hours (others had been there up to 12) while a tourniquet pressure bandage started to cut off circulation to his lower leg.  I tried several times to get him help but was ignored and the ER staff never notified his surgeon that he was in trouble even though the surgeon was still in the hospital.  By the time a nurse, not a doctor actually saw him, they never removed the bloody sock, only changed the bandage and wrapped the leg in an ace bandage that was so tight that it caused excruciating pain.  When I got him back to the hotel where we were staying, I removed the sock and found the lower leg was snow white and his toenails were blue.  I found a weak pulse, so I loosened the ace bandage, started warming the lower leg and applied massage.  It took three hours before the lower leg was back to normal.

    If you are veteran in Oregon, I suggest two things:   stay away from the Portland VA emergency room if you can, and file to have the staff at Bend replaced by doctors and nurses who actually practice medicine.  IN the 18 months my husband has been dependent on the VA here for help he has had some of the worst medical care I have ever seen in my 62 years of living, and every doctor that allows their colleagues to act so badly should be demanding their removal alongside the patients whose lives they have threatened.  And don't even get me started on their administration!  I no longer have to wonder why so many of our veterans are committing suicide - this quality of medical care makes suicide a viable and reasonable option to the quackery that some doctors at the VA in Bend and Portland, OR practice!

  •  Supporting Veterans in meaningful ways (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Anderson - I cannot thank you enough for your honest, insightful and informative comments about the realities of being a veteran.  I have often thanked a veteran for his/her service - not realizing that my "gratitude" might make a Vet feel uncomfortable and even a bit irritated!

    I agree that our veterans should be paid handsomely for their service - both while they are serving and after they come home from serving.  The fact that SO many veterans are forced to TRY to receive Food Stamps is a national disgrace and a tragedy!

    The outrageous sums of money spent on recruitment, esoteric weapons that may never be used and other programs that could easily be cut - should definitely be diverted to taking care of our veterans.

    Your comments were some of THE best - most eloquent, yet matter-of-fact - I have ever seen posted on the Internet.  You have an obvious gift for writing, and I am assuming that you ARE getting paid (by Daily Kos?) for your contributions.

    YOU have a talent for "arguing your case" in a manner that can effect change and raise awareness about the realities of being a vet.  Better still, I believe people will/would rally behind/around you to make positive changes happen.

    You didn't attack or blame or engage in name-calling - which is so rare, yet very refreshing in the social media culture.  If you are anywhere near as eloquent with verbal orations as you are a writer, you could be a dynamo on the public speaking network.  People will listen and respond positively to you - by virtue of the manner in which you "make your case".

    Thank you for raising my awareness about the "thank you for your service" issue.  You have made a convert out of me!

    Have you considered running for political office?

  •  PTSD? (0+ / 0-)

    When you study history, you read of countless wars of incredible brutality.  Even daily life was very precarious. You were lucky if you made it past 30.   These people didn't have the luxury of using PTSD as an excuse to be disabled.

  •  A realistic View of the Military (0+ / 0-)

    Good story.  I've always thought our number one job was to fulfill our agreement to those who join the military.  We should pay them a living wage.  We can pay the mercenaries a living wage (and who do we thank for that?) but not enlisted people, that is BS.  Those that serve 4 years and don't use their benefits, I don't have too much sympathy for.  Some join the military because they have no other options, many times due to their own life choices.  Those life choices don't get any better when they get out, that is their own fault.
    How about we don't thank you, but support a living wage and all the tools to get yourself ahead after you get out.

  •  Soldiers and veterans (0+ / 0-)

    ought to receive the same decent pay and decent housing, the same good jobs and employment opportunities, health care, social services, education etc that ALL ordinary Americans receive - no less...and no more.

    It is truly a disgrace that veterans are used and discarded as they are - but they are not unique in this.  We live in a society that cares little for the ordinary people who actually do all the work, whether that is designing fighter aircraft or flying or cleaning them.  

    I think the problem is not that Americans care little for our veterans: the problem is that we care little for ourselves.  We own this country, and the government is our instrument.  But we let a bunch of ritchie riches run us into the ground so they can live fat and high while we create and defend the wealth with our bloodsweattoilandtears.  

    Maybe one day we all wake up to that fact and take back our country for all the people. Until that day comes, I think you can expect that veterans will be treated with the same derision and neglect that most of us are.

  •  Temporary Usefulness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Our government has depended on our excellent military personnel to engage in warfare, often unnecessarily, for the promotion and/or protection of business interests and the needs of other countries. Once our soldiers are no longer needed they are discarded and forgotten. The most shameful aspect of this behavior is that our astute warmongering politicians in Congress are the very ones who do their best to deny our veterans the assistance they have earned.

  •  Labor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In the US, our troops are just another segment in the labor market.  We were fooling ourselves when we thought an all-volunteer military was the same as a professional military, meaning a highly trained work force in a dangerous profession.  Instead, they are commodified labor force like any other.  The other nations, like Canada, that treat their armed forces better than ours treat all their citizens better than we treat ours.  The decline of my country shows up in many ways, including a culture of capitalism that uses people as things, then throws them away when their warranty has expired.  

  •  the best way to support the veterans - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    stop creating them.

    The biggest problem we have is maintaining a standing military.  This awesome power requires that our policy wield it.  It requires us to be the world policeman.  It allows industrial vampires  (i.e. Exxon, Lockheed, Halliburton, et al) to bleed us white.

    "It is naive to think we expect to be safe without our military - the world is a scary place with evil people who want to hurt us" -  that is the rationale, of course.

    That is the justification for the drain of the treasury, the destruction of lives, the poverty class treatment of families and veterans, all of it.

    But when was the last time we were truly threatened or attacked?  I think that would be Pearl Harbor.

    Did Korea ever seriously threaten to attack the United States?  Vietnam?  certainly not Iraq. and the list goes on  and on.  

    Until we dismantle the military industrial complex, it will be a self perpetuating loop of hate and vengeance towards us.

    And the troops and veterans will be used and abused like the cannon fodder that they are.

    There is safety through pre-emptive attack.  There is no democracy from the barrel of a gun.

    Stop the madness.  Stop the glorification of the military.

    All unquiet on the western front.

  •  When I (0+ / 0-)

    first contemplated leaving the Army after VietNam, all I was qualified to do as a Combat Engineer platoon Leader was watch my troops kill, klean and korral;  assemble 5 kinds of bridges, drive a road through jungle;  knock down trees building fire support bases, and spray defoliant herbicides indiscriminantly.
    I stuck around for 4 more years to learn to fly helicopters.

    Good thing I did.  Of the 40 guys in my EOBC class of 60 that weren't college educated Engineers, most have not been well employed for the last 44 years.  The 5 whose families owned mines, banks, auto dealerships or supply houses aren't statistically relevant to challenge the combined assertion of the experience related by the author & me.

  •  Yes, they volunteered (0+ / 0-)

    However, I am sure that they did not volunteer to be deployed three, four or more times. They never considered the fact that if injured in body or mind that our government, who SENT they into harm's way, would ignore them. They did not anticipate that the civilians who were stressed financially would be expected to contribute to "Wounded Warriors."  Should not our government be willing to care for these brave service men and women when they come home? Yes, we should stop interfering with other nation's civil wars, but this government must not cut back on what they OWE our service personnel, decent pay, affordable, and good housing, all the medical and psychological care that they and their families need.

  •  Our troops don't want/need this kind of "support." (0+ / 0-)

    When somebody says that they support our troops in one breath, and then qualifies their support in the next breath by pointing out that the members of our military "volunteered" to serve, it is insulting to our men and women in uniform, as well as being an unconscionable point of view. It's the fact that they DID "volunteer" to risk life and limb for America and our freedom that they deserve even MORE of our thanks, support and help. There is no military draft at the present time, so our armed forces must rely on the selfless, brave people who "volunteer" to serve God and country, those who willingly go to war and risk their lives to serve us.

    It's the flag-waving Tea Party Republicans, who act as if they have a monopoly on patriotism, that are the most hypocritical with regard to supporting our troops. They get up on their soapboxes and say that they're all about helping our miliitary, while accusing the Democrats of being communist, Godless heathens who hate our troops. However, the conservatives' words ring empty, especially considering the fact that they recently voted down Senator Bernie Sanders' legislation placed before Congress that would have provided enhanced education, job training and health care benefits for veterans and their families. Republicans need to start putting their money, or our taxpayer dollars, where their big, fat, lying mouths are. Any member of Congress who votes against bills that would help our active troops and veterans is a shameful human being, and they have no business in government.

  •  When I read the title (0+ / 0-)

    I was ready to argue against your article.  I was happy to see it was a 'hook.'  I never served but I have a remarkable number of ex-military buddies (especially remarkable since I'm in academia - but I pride myself that the Veteran's Office at my school steers vets into my classes.)

    I will share one story which sums up my view of those who serve:

    A few years back, a student at a college where I taught PT, decided to enlist in the Marines.  [Back Story] This guy was an anachronism - he said "Sir"and "Ma'am" when addressing faculty and was not snarky.  If he could help you he would help you - even if it wasn't his job. An elderly faculty member had some boxes of stuff she needed to take to her car - our hero went to get his break then so he could be away from his 'post' to carry her boxes to her car.

    After he finished his training and was ready to ship out we had a party for him - it was in November.  My GF & I got him alone and said "We hope you don't get shipped out until January so you can spend Christmas with your family."

    He said "No!  I want to ship out before Christmas so one of those guys who's been there a year or two can come spend Christmas with his family - he needs it more."

    I realized then that we send the wrong people into combat...
    support our troops - anyone who thinks of others is worthy of our support.

    -- illegitimi non carborundum

    by BadBoyScientist on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:32:13 AM PDT

  •  World War II was the last war United States (0+ / 0-)

    needed to fight and fought on the right side.  Since then our wars seem to be about bullying some poor less-developed nation with "natural resources" to sell them super-cheap to one of our too big to fail extractive firms--usually fossil fuel usually petroleum--sometimes some hard rock mineral.

  •  But you did volunteer (0+ / 0-)

    Two things the commenter overlooked - they were capable and they were willing.  These two things say even more about the commenter?

  •  But you did volunteer (0+ / 0-)

    This is the attitude of the republican party when it comes to funding VA benefits. As far as they are concerned soldiers and sailors have always been expendable.

  •  But you did volunteer (0+ / 0-)

    Hopefully, we won't have another war so soon that our potential soldier and sailor enlistees will remember how little our legislators supported them.

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