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?