Sunday, December 18, 2011

Troops Leaving Iraq

I’m sitting in the Tora Bora restaurant here on the ISAF compound in Kabul and am watching the BBC and CNN news coverage of the US military’s pull out from Iraq. It’s silent coverage since the sound is off.

But it gets me to thinking, it’s going to take a while, months for the men and women to get back to the bases they deployed from; Italy, Germany, England, The United States. There will be the normal unit celebrations when the deployed elements arrive back at their units, the administrative process of getting the returnees re-integrated.

But what then?

These men and women are coming out of a combat situation, high stress, high tempo, life and death situations where they have seen buddies killed or wounded. They themselves may have been wounded physically, or mentally.

How are we.. WE going to support them? Are we going to shake their hands and say “Thank you for your service to our country”? Or are we going to throw rocks and bottles, while yelling vile things at them? Or are we going to ignore them, sentence them to the limbo of benign neglect, “if we ignore them they will go away and we won’t have to deal with their problems”.

Veterans from World War two came home to parades. Vets that fought in Korea just came home. When Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines came home from Vietnam, it was to demonstrations, shouts of “rapist; murderer and baby killer”. I know first hand about the open hostility of civilians against the military, my father served in the U.S. Marine Corps as part of an aviation fighter squadron stationed on board the USS Oriskany. It didn’t matter if the service member slogged through the jungles and rice paddies, or sat off the coast on an aircraft carrier, or was part of a field medical unit. Everyone that wore a uniform was treated with equally vile contempt.

We’ve heard the chants of certain factions of our population, “NO BLOOD FOR OIL”, “HALIBURTON’S WAR”, “BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED”, among others. If they have a grievance with the WHY of sending servicemen and women into a war, I have no problem with that. You want to scream and yell about the justifications used, by all means take it up with THE GOVERNMENT, not the individual soldier or his/her family.

There is no conscription of service in the United States. Every man and woman who wears the uniform chose, on their own, to hand over a check to their respective military service for an amount up to and including their life. They agreed when they put up their hand and recited the Oath that they would support and defend the Constitution and to obey the officers appointed over them.

So, it comes back to the question, how are we going to support our returning troops?

I know how I’m going to support them.

How are YOU going to support our returning troops?

5 comments:

  1. This was a great blog and a wonderful question. With my son over in Afghanistan right now this really hits home. So many people demand they have the freedom to live the way they want but forget the people that give them that freedom. They need to stop and think, freedom comes with a big price. So many died to ensure our freedom. We need to welocme the troops back with open arms and all the love in our hearts. Thank you so much for doing this blog!

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  2. What a powerful post!
    I agree with what Tabitha said--people want to live in a land where we have freedom, but there are threats against that freedom--it does sadly come with a price.
    It would be no easy thing to put your very life on the line to maintain that freedom, but so many men and women do and have done.
    All the troops from all over the world who have fought should be welcomed home to their country with the highest praise and respect. We owe them not only our continued freedom, but our lives!

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  3. Great post. No matter how we feel about the war and its wisdom or lack thereof, the men and women who left families behind and went where they were sent are not responsible for the decision to send troops. They did their duty, whether enthusiastically, or just because they signed up for the reserves to get money for college, never expecting to do more than spend a bunch of time training on weekends.

    My brother-in-law just got back from Kuwait in September, from his 2nd tour with the reserves. By profession he's a counselor, and was working for the VA counseling returning soldiers. That's vital work, and badly underfunded.

    I think probably the thing they want to hear most is "We missed you. We're so glad to have you back."

    There are some useful tips here: http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/NMH05-0210/NMH05-0210.pdf Not all the details are applicable, since this is aimed at dealing with civilians in emergency situations, but the principles apply, especially the list of things not to do.

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  4. A handshake, smile and words of thanks are simply not enough in my opinion. Not once since 9-11 have I worried about walking down the street or going to meet a friend for coffee. Not once have I had to wonder if I was safe in my home and that is because servicemen in every branch were doing there jobs to protect all of us.
    I would certainly attend parades filled with accolades but those are one time events. I suggest business owners hiring servicemen. I suggest VA hospitals taking care of the physical and mental conditions without preamble- forget the fifty pounds of paperwork and budget cuts! I suggest tax breaks continue and non-foreclosure benefits continue as well. I'd love to see the media interview servicemen and show them as the heroes they are. I suggest understanding for family members of servicemen who are and others who aren't, coming home. I grant leave to family members for a period of readjustment.
    New beginnings such as small business loans and college grants go a long way. Let's not penalize our heroes for their time away, but commend them in every way possible.
    Thanks so much for this blog. You have me thinking and that is always a good thing!

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  5. Great words and I agree with it completely...God Bless our military and their families...I pray they all have good things happen when they come home...

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