America's Noble Warriors

(See here) an MSNBC/AP piece by Russ Bynum that reports on reactions to Dubyah Bush's recent comments on the Iraq war from families that have lost loved ones in the conflict.

I am not surprised that many family members express reservations about whether the sacrifice of their loved ones' lives were worth it. I am not sure I would be able to resist the motivation to state "Nothing is worth losing the life of my son/daughter."

(See here) a related piece by Charley Reese titled "What People Believe" that appears on Lew Rockwell's anti-war/Libertarian website.

Charley opens his piece with this question:
How do you persuade a man who has a wife and children and who works hard but can barely make ends meet to take a pay cut and go do something that has a high probability of getting him killed or seriously injured?

Let me try to answer Charley's question. I am a retired Navy CPO. I was amongst those against the invasion of Iraq BEFORE we started. However once we engaged, I became convinced that since we made the decision to invade, and made a mess by doing so, we had to stick it out long enough to clean up the mess we made. This is still my opinion, although I am starting to wonder just how successful we are going to be in cleaning up the mess.

When things began to get real dicey over there, I again considered volunteering to do my part to serve my nation. I was not going to try to return to active duty, but I noted there was a real need for civilian truck drivers to support our active duty troops. Since I took up truck driving as a career after my retirement from the Navy, I figured I should be willing to "put up or shut up". I started enquiring about how I could go about becoming one of these civilian truck drivers in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

As I enquired I discovered that while the pay was good enough to continue putting my kids through college while I served, there was a problem in that if I were maimed or killed while doing so, there were little protections offered. Only a miniscule amount of "wartime" life insurance and zero disability coverage. I was starting to wonder if it would be possible to obtain such coverage on my own. I am sure it would have been expensive, however I figured the pay was good enough that I probably could afford it and still have enough money left for my family.

One female family friend, when she overheard I was considering this, asked why would I do such a thing? Her reasoning was that since I had already done over 20 years in the service, surely I should consider that I had done my "time in the barrel" and it was somebody else's turn. I believe my reply to her was that it would be wrong for an old fart like me to ask someone else to take on the burden and risks if I was unwilling to do so myself.

What kept me from following through was I talked with another truck driver who actually had served over there for several months. I found out from him that in order to qualify one must pass an extremely rigorous physical. While I am in good enough health to pass the Dept Of Transportation mandated physical in the United States required to drive a commercial vehicle I am not free from health issues. The one area that I am certain that would disqualify me is the pulmonary aspects. The truck driver I ran into had an extremely difficult time passing this area, and in fact had to return to be retested a couple times to pass. He didn't even smoke and I smoke at least two, and as much as three, packs of cigarettes a day. Back when I still served on active duty, and smoked less, I was informed I already back then suffered from reduced lung capacity.

I am certain I could not pass the physical. Evidently one must be in perfect health to be allowed to risk your life for your country.

Oh, from the truck driver I also noted one other real (and possibly humorous) condition I still would have had objections to. Civilian truck drivers in Iraq are forced to drive around in triple digit temperatures without air conditioning. Since it is not unusual for me to spend thousands of dollars per year in keeping my air conditioning running in my truck, I would have held out for Haliburton to provide me with a truck to drive that included air conditioning. While I might have been willing to risk my life, I was reluctant to do so in sweltering conditions!

My youngest son attempted to join the service. Like me, he too was against the invasion of Iraq before we started. As he and I discussed his possibly serving, he wondered if it would be wrong to serve even if he disagreed with the war. If it would be OK for him to serve while Dubyah Bush, who he did not vote for, served as Commander In Chief. I remember trying to communicate to him that he should consider it as serving and defending the American People, and that this was still a noble thing to do. I believe I left unsaid my belief that if only gung-ho cowboy types enter the service we will end up with a military comprised only of gung-ho cowboys. This would not be a good thing. (As a sidenote, my son did attempt to enter the service, but was prevented from doing so. While he passed the mental entrance exam with an extremely high score, he could not pass the physical due to a childhood injury.)

What pisses me off is that there are not more Americans willing to serve then there are. A number approaching (but not quite reaching) 50% of Americans were in favor of the invasion before we started. Why are there not lines of people queued at the recruiter's office seeking the privilege of serving from amongst these citizens? Why do they leave it to those individuals (and the sons and daughters of these individuals) who were against the war to serve while we clean up the mess they were in favor of making?

Why are the ranks of our military not filled with the individuals (and their offspring) who cheered when Dubyah Bush stated "Bring it on"? They were in favor of making the mess, and now that the mess has been made, they are unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to clean it up.


Post a Comment

<< Home