My father was a Marine. My grandfather was a Navy aviator and test pilot. I have ancestors who fought in both World Wars, the Civil War (on the wrong side), and the Revolutionary War. (If I so chose, I could apply for membership in both the DAR and the Daughters of the Confederacy, not that I am likely to do so.) I have a great deal of respect for men and women who served in our armed forces.
We ask so much from our troops. We give back so little. We ask them to go to far away places, leaving behind family and friends, and often to put their lives on the line. We talk a good game as a country about how important our troops are, but we fail to support them when they get back.
We need to provide adequate resources for them and their families while they deployed. We need to promptly provide good care for them when they get back from whatever quagmire of a war they were deployed to, and whatever help they need to quickly reintegrate into society.
Most importantly, we need to not send them into quagmires in the first place.
Iraq? Quagmire. We were lied to by our leaders. Afghanistan? After all these years, I go back and forth about the extent to which our invasion of Afghanistan was justified and responsible. Syria? Unless it were as part of a United Nations force (which is not going to happen because of Russia’s relationship with the Assad regime), having U.S. troops involved would be a disaster in the making. True, the administration was only talking air strikes, but once involved there is always the danger of escalation.
Even all those drones we are using to take out alleged terrorists (and civilians) have a higher human cost than we usually think about. Cracked.com recently ran a piece, “6 Myths About Drone Warfare You Probably Believe,” which was eye opening, to me at least. They may not be putting their bodies in harm’s way, but drone pilots certainly place their psyches on the line, with less opportunity for advancement than for traditional combat power.
There is this bizarre belief that manifests itself sometimes that to support the troops automatically means to support the war. That to criticize the decisions of the people at the is to not care about those further down the food chain. This is complete garbage.
We have a responsibility to our troops to hold our leaders accountable for what actions they take. It is up to us to make sure that we only place our troops in danger when there are no other options.