Friday, May 04, 2007

Supporting the troops - Dare we?

I have never been in battle, nor do I wish to be. But many brave young men and women have freely made that choice. They now serve our country in Iraq and Afghanistan and many other places around the world. They don't complain, they serve honorably because they want to defend all of us and keep our country strong. They rightfully allow us the freedom to have the debate about the war, whether we disagree with it being chosen as a course of action by our President, or whether we support the action taken. I have pondered the question as to what does it mean to truly support our troops who are in harms way.

Many worry that the funding of our troops before Congress will hamstring this President and the General's ability to conduct the war. Other's worry that the war is lost and the best thing that can be done is to stand up and refuse the funding, as a means to stopping the war. In the meantime, our troops are there, many on several tours of duty, not able to get home to see their families as was expected because we don't have enough troop replacements. Many argue that the Military is either broken or in serious condition and on its way to be broken. I have a client Executive who had served in the military and was there during the initial invasion of Iraq. He thought he would be home for another year with his wife and very young children, but he received orders he must go back in the next month or two, cutting short his tour home by a year.

There is little talk in the Congress or in the Administration of shared sacrifice. many of us go on our daily routines without even thinking about the war except when we see the news or hear from a neighbor that a relative was wounded, lost a limb or was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. We hear a lot about the benefits of an all volunteer military and that they wouldn't want it any other way. Well I think it is time to truly consider what it means to support the troops and their families and the country. The time may have come to reconsider instituting a DRAFT or National Service required of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 28 for a minimum period of 2 years and a maximum of 4 years. Many of my age group joined the Peace Corps. They gave the world a better impression of America than any wars could create.

None of the politicians, with the exception of Rep. Charlie Rangle D-NY, has even given the topic serious consideration. Rangel argues that until there is shared sacrifice, we will not be in alignment as to what we should do as a country. He has a good point. There are fewer that 10% of the Congress and Senate members son's and daughters serving in the military. Neither the President, nor the Vice President, ever really served in battle, and yet they took us into war. It seems that Presidents who have not served in battle, are the ones always staring wars. Maybe it's time we have another General run for President. Those Senators currently running for President or who had considered running for President have strong opinions about the war. Senator McCain has called for many more troops in Iraq in the past several years than anyone else. Senator Kerry (D) wants the troops to come home as does Senator Chuck Hagel (R). Both served their country in Vietnam. Maybe there is something to picking a President who at least has served in wartime and in battle. If I remember correctly, even General Wesley Clark, who ran for President in 2004, was against this war.

I think it's time to debate the need for a DRAFT. It isn't as though we have people standing in line to volunteer to join the military. many feel it is political suicide to even discuss the topic. That is why we non-politicians must raise our voices on this topic and that time is now. Adding more troops to the military is truly SUPPORTING THE TROOPS.

This is not the first time I have written on this topic and you can read what I previously wrote by clicking here, but at this time of the "surge", it is worth serious discussion again.

I add this below as it reminds us of the human costs to this war. This was published in January 2007:

"Divorce rates among Army officers dropped a whopping 61 percent last year following a 2004 spike that sent shudders through the service. In 2004, 3,325 Army officers divorced, but that number dropped to 1,292 in 2005, Army officials said. Divorces also were down slightly among enlisted members, from 7,152 in 2004 to 7,075 last year.

Army spokesman Martha Rudd said percentages tell the story more clearly, particularly in the officer corps. In 2004, 6 percent of married officers divorced. In 2005, the figure dropped by more than half: 2.3 percent of married officers divorced.

Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Pete Frederich, family ministries officer for the Army Chief of Chaplains, said there's no concrete explanation for why divorce rates climbed in 2004 or why they dropped last year. "There are many, many anecdotal reasons," he said, noting that every marriage and every divorce is different. But most likely, the stress of multiple deployments and an increased operational tempo throughout the Army played their part in the 2004 increase, Frederich acknowledged."

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