Do I need to start a #MilitaryLivesMatter?


This morning, as I was listening to the Maggie Linton show on Sirius XM radio, I heard something kind of depressing. One particular caller contacted the show to express frustration with the ostensibly unfair criticism that Hillary has been receiving about her support for war. I wasn’t able to record the direct quote, but his point was basically this: Hillary has had to vote for conflicts that she didn’t want in the past, but she did it because it was necessary to get things done. The term “expediency” was used. He said “…I’m fine with it.”

Ex·pe·di·en·cy (noun): the quality of being convenient and practical despite possibly being improper or immoral; convenience.

I don’t blame an HRC supporter for having a political view, but I think his comment highlights a particularly troubling aspect of our society: the disparity of understanding between America’s common populace and it’s military. I understand his point that two-party politics is all about negotiation, and spending ‘political capital’ in the right places while fighting the battles that are worth fighting.

You know what battle is always worth fighting? Protecting and honoring the lives of our service-members and veterans. When you send young people into combat for the sake of expediency, you are NOT honoring the relationship of trust that our military must have with its civilian leadership.

One of my earliest friends at West Point was a gentle giant of a man named Chris. Both of our last names start with ‘G’ so we ended up close to each other during the first few harrowing weeks of training and hazing. Chris was one of those people who are good at everything. He was strong, smart, but most of all truly compassionate and a great leader. He helped me get through basic training. Chris was also one of our highest ranked cadets in our graduating year (he was a top-50 USMA cadet). We lost Chris in Kandahar, Afghanistan on July 10, 2010. He was killed in action while helping to stand up security operations for the people of Afghanistan. From my location, at the time in Bagram Air Base, I wept.

Working next to the “flight line” on one of the largest bases in Afghanistan, I witnessed numerous “fallen Soldier” ceremonies as we sent our heroes home one last time.

Chris sacrificed willingly; we all committed to sacrifice willingly. But this promise that we made as Soldiers comes with the assumption that our country will consider our lives carefully. We believe in this country, and in its values, and we believe that the sacrifice we make is worth it. Please let that remain true. The person who gets elected president is the commander-in-chief. The military doesn’t have the option of “re-drawing” if the American people choose a leader who doesn’t serve their best interests.

Therefore, you have a responsibility, with your vote, to consider the impact your decisions may have on those who are sworn to protect you. Just because the military-related segment of our population is shrinking, doesn’t mean that we should forget who is there. I once led a Sergeant who had at least 6 kids- if you send him overseas, to potentially never return intact, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you do your due diligence first.

I’m a big supporter of the #BLM movement. It’s painful but necessary, and I don’t want us to need one for Soldiers, Sailors, & Marines as well. We shouldn’t have to keep reminding people that life is precious, just because brave people are willing to put it on the line. I also understand that those who haven’t experienced war may never fully understand it or comprehend its impact.

So put yourself in someone else’s shoes for just a moment. Imagine the kid who was in high school when 9/11 happened and went immediately into the military to fight upon graduation. Imagine a less-privileged mother, joining the military in hopes of paying back her college loans, or getting an education at all. Imagine someone who just cares about other Americans, attending a military academy in lieu of party-school to get the very best training he can, just so he can bring back as many Soldiers alive as possible.

My best friend Wonko says “A soldier’s life matters before it’s a hashtag.”

We are more than ‘X’ number of boots on the ground.

 

“all gave some; some gave all” -Howard William Osterkamp, Korean War Vet

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