Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama's lack of military understanding

There are many things that bother me about the way the left regards those who serve in the Military. Of late, I am most troubled by the view that those who have served in Iraq are victims. In fact, President Obama's speech at Camp Lejeune, where he announced our exodus from Iraq, was riddled with Victimized Soldier references:

You make up a fraction of the American population, but in an age when so many people and institutions have acted irresponsibly, you did the opposite – you volunteered to bear the heaviest burden. And for you and for your families, the war does not end when you come home. It lives on in memories of your fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gave their lives. It endures in the wound that is slow to heal, the disability that isn’t going away, the dream that wakes you at night, or the stiffening in your spine when a car backfires down the street.

You and your families have done your duty – now a grateful nation must do ours. That is why I am increasing the number of soldiers and Marines, so that we lessen the burden on those who are serving. And that is why I have committed to expanding our system of veterans health care to serve more patients, and to provide better care in more places. We will continue building new wounded warrior facilities across America, and invest in new ways of identifying and treating the signature wounds of this war: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as other combat injuries.

We also know that service does not end with the person wearing the uniform. In her visits with military families across the country, my wife Michelle has learned firsthand about the unique burden that your families endure every day. I want you to know this: military families are a top priority for Michelle and me, and they will be a top priority for my administration. We’ll raise military pay, and continue providing quality child-care, job-training for spouses, and expanded counseling and outreach to families that have known the separation and stress of war. We will also heed the lesson of history – that those who fight in battle can form the backbone of our middle class – by implementing a 21st century GI Bill to help our veterans live their dreams.

A big mistake made by those on the left is assuming Soldiers think like civilians. They don't, and they won't. A Soldier sacrifices for a cause greater than themselves, and they do so willingly. It would be disingenuous to state Soldiers don't suffer. They do - mentally and physically. They miss their spouses, their children just like anyone. What they don't want is sympathy for this, they don't need sympathy. The appropriate response to what a Soldier does is to honor their service, honor their sacrifices.

Military members through the ages have been affected by war. For most, a victory celebration from their home country is what offers comfort. The best counseling comes in the form of conversations with other Soldiers, because other Soldiers get it. Soldiers speak in terms of Duty, Honor and Country, not "poor you, poor me".

Soldiers will honor the Commander in Chief out of unquestionable obligation. In return, the President has an obligation to understand he is addressing warriors, and as such, he must speak their language. The President must triumphantly praise the job our Military has done, and he must honor the sacrifices of those who serve. There is no place for sanctimonious pity when you are leading Soldiers.